Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jewel # 198 (Dec. 16, 2014)

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“They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts,
in that day when I make
up MY JEWELS.”
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren

The Sly Fox

“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines:
for our vines have tender grapes.”
(Song of Solomon 2:15)

Not many people really like a wolf or a coyote, but most everyone likes a fox. It looks like an animal that would be nice to pet, but don’t try it . . . a fox has sharp teeth and claws.

This intelligent, wild animal belongs to the dog family. The average size is about 30 inches long with a 15 inch, bushy tail. It has a pointed muzzle and large, furry, triangular ears.

Foxes are found on every continent except Antarctica. They can be seen frequently throughout Canada and the United States, mostly in the western parts. There are many varieties, including the red, gray, silver gray, blue and black. The most common and widespread species is the red fox, named for its thick, long-haired coat, which is a rich shade of rusty-red with patches of white on its throat, lower jaw and the tip of its tail.

Foxes do not hibernate in the winter, but most do dig dens in the ground. Some live in caves or hollow logs. Their dens usually have two or three entrances. One is the main entrance, and the others are used only to escape in an emergency. The main entrance will often be among tree roots or under large rocks.

A female fox is called a vixen, and the young are called pups. In the spring, four to nine pups are born to the vixen in the den. They are completely helpless at birth and depend on the mother for food and protection for about six months. When the pups are about a month old, she takes them outside on trips to play and to practice hunting. The frisky pups make the most of this, chasing each other, tossing sticks in the air and playfully wrestling. But the mother sees to it that they learn to hunt and to be alert for enemies.

Dogs are the enemy that they fear most. When being chased by a pack of dogs, foxes use many sly tricks to throw the dogs off the trail. Usually they can outrun the dogs in a chase. Did you know that foxes can climb trees?

Foxes are most active at dusk. They live mainly on mice, ground squirrels, insects and fruits, but most will eat anything they can catch. They hunt by stalking and then quickly pounce on their prey. They have been know to catch chickens and lambs, but generally, with the quantity of rodents they catch, they do far more good than harm.

As our opening verse says, they also eat grapes, sometimes spoiling the vines. The “little foxes” here tell us that many things that look innocent can actually be harmful in our lives. To avoid these, the Bible instructs:

“Enter not into the path of the wicked . . . avoid it, pass not by it” (Proverbs 4:14-15).

This is good advice for everyone.

Love you all,
Grandpa

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