Monday, November 13, 2023

She's Back! F257 - an Island Fox with a Story

F257 was true to form in 2023. She was captured during island-wide counting on Santa Rosa Island for the fifth year in a row!

This charismatic female island fox was first captured and radio-collared in the fall of 2019 as a pup of that year. She was collared in the territory where she was born and there were thoughts she might provide additional data on how far female offspring disperse from their parents' territory.


She didn't go anywhere. F257 remained in the coastal plain of her childhood. She has been captured each year, not only in the same area, but in exactly the same location. A highly unusual occurrence.


Health checks in 2020, 2021, and 2022 found F257 healthy even during years of drought. She even was videoed after receiving her new radio collar. But physical evidence revealed that this healthy female island fox had not become a mother. Island foxes typically have pups in their second year, but they can breed before they are a year old if resources are available. During the 2021–22 drought years, most female island foxes did not breed.

This year F257 approached breeding season as a middle-aged fox–4 years old.

The rainy winter suggested a boom of resources for island foxes. We all waited to see what would happen with F257.

When she was captured in September, F257 showed evidence of nursing pups. 

Island fox females who have NOT been nursing have white bellies.

Females that have been nursing have pink bellies.

F257 has added her genes to the population of island foxes on Santa Rosa Island. We hope she continues to thrive and tell her story.

More on island fox reproduction.