If you thought humans had a tough time feeding their newborn babies, just take a look at this patient momma!

The fox and her five kits made their mealtime debut this week in Colorado's Jackson Lake State Park. The family appears to be denning somewhere near the park office, as they've been spotted regularly in the adjacent garden.

The fox's milk-making feat is impressive, but she's not even working at full capacity. Red foxes can have up to 13 kits per litter (though 4-6 is most common). The babies develop extremely fast, tripling their weight in just ten days. Nursing this many babies takes an immense amount of energy, and so fox moms begin to wean their young after just four weeks. The month-old kits will feed on a combination of milk and regurgitated meat until the rest of their teeth come in. 

"It's so funny to watch them," say park staff on Facebook. "Come out to the park around 6pm and they will probably be in the office yard." And when they're not guzzling milk, you can find the youngsters wrestling on the building's steps.

Park officials are keeping a watchful eye on the family, urging visitors to keep their distance. The male fox is nearby at all times, and as you can see, is still quite defensive. "Please remember that this is their home. We want you to enjoy the wildlife, but please be respectful and give them plenty of space and distance," says the team. The male will stay until his vixen can hunt for herself again, typically around June or July.

You'll notice the kits don't yet have the red pelage of their parents – those sandy, grey-brown coats ensure the young are well camouflaged against the soil near the den. At this stage, they're quite feisty, and regularly engage in play. Pouncing on insects, carrying around sticks and leaves, and rough-housing with their siblings are crucial for skills development since the young foxes need to be ready to hunt on their own in just six months!


Top header image: Brad Smith/Flickr