Come see the new red fox at Bays Mountain Park

Matthew Lane • Updated Nov 22, 2017 at 8:58 AM

KINGSPORT — Say hello to Jamie the Fox, the newest addition at Bays Mountain Park.

Jamie is a 1-year-old male red fox that came to the park in July from a local rehab facility. Park employees have been working with Jamie since then to acclimate him to his new surroundings with the goal of having him involved in public programming.

On Friday, Jamie was placed in his permanent enclosure near the herpetarium.

Senior Naturalist Megan Krager said it's just been the normal process for Jamie to learn about his new home and the people who will be taking care of him.

“We did have him in a location in the park where people could see him if they paid attention. We wanted for his placement to be smooth, with not a lot of excitement so he could transition into his new habitat with ease,” Krager said. “He's still a little bit on the skittish side, and he's learning new sounds that he didn't have the opportunity to hear in the other location.”

If you see Jamie, the first thing you'll probably notice is he isn't all that red for a red fox. That's because he has a genetic mutation that prevents him from displaying all of the red color.

“He does have some red markings,” Krager said. “He has a white tip on his tail, the back of his ears are black and his feet are black. When he first came, we didn't see the red pigment like we see today. It just came out with his winter coat.”

After the passing of the park's raccoon, Belle, earlier this year, park staff started looking for a new animal to bring to the park. Bays Mountain has had a fox in the past, but it's been a long time, Krager said.

“We asked the interns at the park what to name the fox. They came up with Jamie, and it just stuck,” Krager said.

The story behind Jamie's arrival at Bays Mountain Park is rather interesting. Somehow a local resident found Jamie when he was a cub and was attempting to raise him as a pet. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency got wind of the situation, stepped in and took Jamie to a local rehab facility, Krager said.

“Jamie was brought in directly from the wild. That is highly illegal,” Krager said. “If you don't know what you're doing, it can go absolutely wrong. There are certain procedures you need to know, and it's not like training a dog.”

Foxy facts

— Red foxes are indigenous to Tennessee and can be found living around the world, from forests to grasslands, from mountains to deserts. Foxes can also live near humans, on farms, in the suburbs and even in larger communities.

— Foxes are rather quiet creatures and don't howl like wolves or coyotes, but they will chirp when playing or if there's danger in the area. They are playful and like to explore.

— Diet: Insects, berries, nuts, earthworms, crickets, small mammals and vegetables.

— Lifespan: 2 to 4 years in the wild; 10 years in captivity.

— Weight: 7 to 24 pounds.

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