Gaspard, The Handsomest Fox in London came to visit one day with an injured leg and has continued to call ever since. The name was chosen because it rhymes with Renard (the French for fox).
For a long time (without making an indelicate inspection) we assumed she was a he - and then the cubs appeared. It's an unexpected and magical connection to something wild in the middle of the city and over time an extraordinary bond of trust has seemed to develop.
Gaspard knows the sound of my Brompton bicycle (foxes have incredible hearing) and often appears just as I am folding it. She sits patiently to watch and we just 'hang out' together on the doorstep until something else catches her attention. When she brought the cubs to visit it was a very special moment.
Gaspard is a facilitator of conversations with strangers, not just my neighbours but with people all over the world and is to be the subject of a series of children's books illustrated by James Mayhew, published next May by Graffeg Books:
Written by Zeb Soanes, illustrated by James Mayhew
Meet Gaspard the Fox as he sets out one summer evening in search of something to eat. On his travels he meets a haughty cat named Peter and Finty, an adventurous little dog who helps him navigate the local canal festival with brightly decorated boats in his hunt for supper. A charming and humorous picture book celebrating urban foxes and their relationship with the humans and animals with whom they share the city. First in a series of books following the adventures of Gaspard and his friends.
- Foxes are one of the most well known wild animals in the UK
- It is thought that there are 10,000 foxes in London and as many as 37 in every square kilometre
- The fox is a member of the dog family and a distant relative of the wolf
- Foxes are mostly active at night
- A female fox is called a vixen
- A male fox is called a dog
- A baby fox is called a cub or kit
- A group of foxes is called a skulk or leash
- Foxes are omnivorous which means they eat almost anything, even jam sandwiches; their usual diet is birds, worms, insects, fruit and small mammals such as mice and rats. In city areas, the food we throw away can make up more than half a fox’s diet.
- A fox’s home is called a den or 'earth'. Vixens dig their dens under tree roots or garden sheds
- Foxes hide or bury spare food to eat later, although another fox may find it first
- Foxes communicate with each other using 28 different types of calls
- A fox can run 30 miles per hour
- A fox tail is called a brush - there was a famous TV fox called Basil the Brush
- A fox's eyes are similar to a cat with narrow vertical pupils, this helps them to see at night.
- Foxes have amazing hearing, it is said they can hear a watch ticking nearly 40 metres away!
- Foxes have been spotted in the lifts or even in the carriages of the London Underground
- One smart fox, named Romeo was found living at the top of 'The Shard', Europe's tallest skyscraper when it was still being built, 288 metres (72 floors) off the ground!
Gaspard the Fox will be published by Graffeg Books, May 2018