This week I'm going to write about my fox skeleton which I've called Vulpy. (All my skeletons have alphabetical names and I'm up to Y so far). This fox was given to me by a gamekeeper in my village, and last September I buried it by the Secret Lake. Last month I dug it up, brought it home and left the bones to clean in biological washing powder.
Gamekeepers shoot loads of foxes, especially this time of year, because they eat pheasants and lambs. On Friday I saw a trap for crows and jackdaws in which the bodies of two shot foxes had been put as bait.
I was really lucky that the skull still had all the cheek teeth and was just missing a few incisors. When we dug it up we thought it was missing a canine tooth but I found it had dropped out of the wire mesh. Fox teeth are very like dog teeth.
There were about 170 bone pieces in total. When I laid them out it looked like this. It's one of the most complete skeletons I have so far:
These are the bones of the front leg. Deer's front legs are the same, and even humans.
The back legs are almost the same as deer, but deer don't have a fibula. The bit between the femur and the tibia is actually the top of the tibia that hasn't fused yet, meaning that bone was still growing.
The pelvis is in two halves. I have seen in very old deer and sheep it's one piece. In very animals it can be in four pieces. The Y-shaped bit of bone between them fills in the gap between them. Deer don't have all the tail bones, only one or two, because not all types of deer have tails (red deer do, roe deer don't) and if they do they are only small. I think it was female from the pelvis (here's why).
This fox was shot in the chest. The circles show the broken ribs and the rectangle shows where there a rib missing. I think the bullet went through from the right side to the left because the exit wound is always bigger.
The tops and bottoms of the femur were fused on, meaning it had stopped growing, but the top of the tibia wasn't fused on. I think means it had almost finished growing up.
On one of the tibia was a lump on the bone, as if it had some kind of bone cancer or had damaged the bone.
I wasn't exactly sure about the paws, but this is how I think the bones were. The claw sheaths would go over the last bit of bone.
One of the bones that's easy to recognise is the atlas, which is the first bone in the spine, next to the skull. I got the wrong way round in the picture of the whole skeleton, but it's the right was round here.
Dad was out this morning looking for newly born red deer calves. He spotted something furry curled up and he thought it was a baby deer, but when it looked up he realised it was a fox sleeping !
I think foxes are beautiful animals. I see the reason why gamekeepers and farmers have to shoot them but if it was up to me I would prefer them not to die.
UPDATE: Here's another picture of the tail because Jacob asked for one in the comments.
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