It says a lot about the mysteries of nature that we are still discovering things about even some of the most well-known animals.
Take the fox for example.
This cousin of wolves and dogs is found all over the world and is a big part of folk tales and many different cultures. It is known for its intelligence, alertness, and quiet hunting style. Cunning as a fox is a popular phrase.
But it was only very recently that we learned that they also know how to fish!
A new report released this summer studied a video of a fox fishing in the wild in Spain. Watch this feisty fellow catch carp!
Why is this a big deal?
This is believed to be the first time that a fox has ever been seen doing this.
Wolves are known to fish, but they were the only members of the dog family (canids) that had been seen doing this. And though biologists had discovered the remains of fish in fox poop (we know, gross, but that's an important way to study an animal's diet!), they weren't certain that the foxes were actually doing the fishing on their own. They could've simply come across a dead fish that had washed ashore, or scavenged the leftovers from a fish killed by a bear.
But this video clearly shows the fox getting the fish for itself. What's more, this fox killed ten carp over the course of a few hours. It ate some, stored others for later, and even gave one to another fox. (Ooooo! For me? Thanks, buddy!)
Is it normal?
One of the big questions behind this is: Is this normal behaviour or just one fox being opportunistic? (Meaning it was just taking advantage of an unusual moment.)
It is clear that the carp are caught in very shallow water and are a bit in distress. So it's possible that while catching these fish was relatively easy, it is not a skill that foxes have mastered overall in deeper water, where the fish would be harder to catch.
But the scientists who wrote the report think that there are signs that this behaviour is something that foxes know how to do.
In an interview with Science News Explores, ecologist Jorge Tobajas of the University of Córdoba said that “The most surprising thing was to see how the fox hunted many carp without making any mistakes. This made us realize that it was surely not the first time he had done it.”
So though fish would not be as common a prey as insects, birds, and small mammals, it is very possible that they hunt fish more often than we've ever known. We've just not noticed it until now.
So keep your eyes peeled, wildlife enthusiasts. You never know when you might spot an animal doing something no one has ever seen before.