On a recent January night, a drunk Londoner came across an all-out street brawl right in front of his house.
Between two red foxes.
The man, on his way home from an evening on the town, captured a video of the two animals rolling and aggressively biting at each other's throats at his doorstep, footage he recently posted online.
They are likely male foxes fighting over territory or mates, explains Erika Yery, who has been rehabilitating injured foxes at Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation in Virginia, in the eastern U.S., for more than 30 years.
The nocturnal predators normally steer clear of each other, “but this time of year is an exception,” she says—during winter mating season, "male foxes will fight for the attention of a female.”
That's because males often wander into another male's territory in search of a female, and end up in conflict with the resident male. (Watch a homewrecker penguin battle a rival.)
The resulting tussles can look savage, but often the loser walks away with little more than hurt pride, she adds—which seems to be the case in this video.
This is likely not an unusual sight in London, where possibly up to 10,000 animals roam the U.K. capital. Experts estimate there are now 16 foxes for every square mile of the city.
The bushy-tailed mammals first sought refuge in the big city after World War II, where they enjoyed protected from hunting and availed themselves of all kinds of food sources.
Urban foxes are noticeably bolder than their country cousins, sharing sidewalks with pedestrians and raising cubs in people's backyards. There is growing evidence in several species that urban wildlife behave differently than their rural counterparts.
Foxes have even sneaked into the Houses of Parliament, where one was found asleep on a filing cabinet. Another broke into the grounds of Buckingham Palace, reportedly killing some of Queen Elizabeth II's prized pink flamingos.
The same phenomenon is happening in parts of the United States.
When Yery first started working with red foxes, for instance, it was relatively rare to get phone calls about sightings. (See "Feral Cities: How Animals are Going Urban Like Never Before.")
“Now, I get them almost every day,” she says. There aren't more foxes, but rather more foxes in cities and suburban areas.
City life may have its benefits, of course, but in some cases the foxes are being squeezed into cities because their country homes have simply disappeared—leaving them nowhere else to go.
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