Foxes produce but once a year, and the litter generally consists of four or five, but seldom six or eight, and never less than three. The time of gestation is in the winter, and young cubs are found in the month of April. These, like dogs, are brought forth blind ; they continue to grow fifteen months or longer, and live to the age of fourteen years.
It is remarkable, that on its long hairy tail the fox has a small bunch of hair which emits an agreeable odour, not unlike that of violets : this proceeds from a gland secreting a viscous humour, which is supposed to serve him as a balsam" in healing wounds, or as a cordial. His woolly tail is dexterously em-' ployed for catching lobsters from the hollows of brooks and rivulets, as well as for blinding his persecutors, the dogs, etc. when it is moistened with urine. But the greatest proof that bespeaks his wonderful ingenuity, is displayed by the manner he rids himself in summer of fleas, his most troublesome enemies. He first seizes with his mouth a parcel of moss, then gradually, but with retrograde steps, immerses himself in water to the point of his mouth; and, when these vermin have retreated to the moss, he suddenly drops his cargo.
The fox is not easily, and never completely tamed: when deprived of liberty, he languishes; and if kept too long in a domestic state; he dies of chagrin. His skin is furnished either with a white, grey, blueish, or black fur, which, on account of its softness and warmth, is in many parts of Europe employed for making muffs, and lining clothes. The fur of the black fox caught in the North, is sometimes sold at the excessive price of 200 guineas.
Various methods are practised for exterminating these predatory animals: they are hunted with dogs ; iron traps are frequently set at their holes, which are also occasionally smoked to expel them, so that they may the more readily fall into the snares laid for their de-struction. The most common mode of taking foxes, is by means of gins :. these being baited, and a train made by drawing raw flesh across his usual paths, or haunts, to the trap, he is frequently decoyed. - We conceive, however, that the most easy method of reducing him to captivity, would be an imitation of that practised in the immense woods of Poland, for catching wolves alive. It simply consists in digging circular holes of suffi-cient depth, depositing fetid carcasses in them as an allurement, and covering them with boards and moss, provided with a trap-door level with the ground. In this manner, all the foxes in the United Kingdom might be exterminated in one season, and much injury prevented, which is every year suffered by the husbandman, chiefly for the sake of perpetuating a gratuitous chace.