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Video: Fox Tries to Open Woman’s Door

While not the strangest thing in the strange world news today, it was fun to watch this smart fox almost open a door (Video) by turning the handle. It may have been seeking the Kansas woman’s dog inside the house.

HERINGTON, Kan. Sally Catlin had video rolling as a wild animal tried with all its might to get into the shop where she stood with her dog, Ellie. 

Catlin says Sunday, the fox bit at Ellie. Monday, she heard her dog again fighting with something. She went outside to look and Ellie came to her. The fox followed and stopped a few feet away. 

Catlin brought her dog inside the shop on her Herington property. She closed the door. Foxes are said to be clever and in that department, this animal did not disappoint as it tried to get inside the shop. Catlin says it would’ve been successful had she not locked the building’s door. 

She called police and the game warden for fear that this fox could be rabid. She says they’ll likely set traps in order to catch the fox and make sure this isn’t the case. 

“We do see foxes. We live on the edge of town and have acres behind us and we do see foxes cross back there into a wooded area also every year, but I’ve never seen one this close and not afraid of people at all, and actually fighting with the other animals,” Catlin says.


The fox is curious and oddly fearless. Is it fair to assume it once observed the woman turn the door handle to get into the house and was imitating her method to enter to get back to “fighting with” (or mating with) her dog?

Foxes do sometimes attempt to mate with dogs if one of the two animals is in its biological mating mode, but it is rare. Reference.com had this:

foxes are monogamous, so mating with a dog would require a fox that is both unpaired and has no potential partners of its own species.dogs have more than twice as many chromosomes as foxes, so there are genetic difficulties to producing any puppies.

Via Reference

Foxes diverged from dogs 7 to 10 million years ago. It has been my understanding that animals with different numbers of chromosomes can never produce offspring naturally because the chromosomes can’t combine. If so, the wording on Reference.com (“genetic difficulties”) is misleading. Fox-dog hybrid puppies would be naturally genetically impossible.

If chromosome numbers and gene locations did not have to match for the intricate molecular dance of reproduction, we could have all sorts of fantastic beasts, like this impressive hipzebrilla, right?

The red fox has 38 chromosomes, while wolves (including dingos), coyotes, jackals, and domestic dogs all have 78 chromosomes arranged in 39 pairs. There are claims of fox-dog hybrids, but unsurprisingly, none genetically confirmed.

Fact checking: Do any animals with different chromosome numbers ever naturally produce living offspring? It seems so.

Consider the Zorse:

How can there be a real Zorse? A horse has 64 chromosomes and a zebra has 32 or 46 depending on species.

A Zorse or Zebrula is a cross between a horse and a zebra, a rare and unusual mix of genetics that creates a funky looking animal with both horse and zebra characteristics.

Via Link

Due to the fact that real Zebroids exist, I must update my view about mismatched chromosome numbers absolutely excluding living offspring.

A donkey has 62 chromosomes; the zebra has between 32 and 46 (depending on species). In spite of this difference, viable hybrids are possible, provided the gene combination in the hybrid allows for embryonic development to birth. A hybrid has a number of chromosomes somewhere in between. The chromosome difference makes female hybrids poorly fertile and male hybrids generally sterile due to a phenomenon called Haldane’s rule. The difference in chromosome number is most likely due to horses having two longer chromosomes that contain similar gene content to four zebra chromosomes. Horses have 64 chromosomes, while most zebroids end up with 54 chromosomes.

Via Wiki

Here is a very interesting zebroid:

A YouTube reader comment clarifies:

Hebra. She’s a hebra, not a zorse. Her parents were a horse stallion and a zebra mare. Horse stallions and zebra mares produce hebras. Zebra stallions and horse mares produce zorses. And both are referred to as zebroids.

Reference.com’s fox-dog entry is probably correct in saying “genetic difficulties” rather than genetic impossiblities, therefore.

It may be wrong about foxes having only one mate, however. In one genetic study, Bristol foxes were definitely not monogamous.

How does a fox know to try the door handle? Some dogs figure this out without being taught. Do they get lucky once and then remember, or do they watch people interact with the door?

Unlike this door opening dog, the Kansas fox was pulling the woman’s door handle both up and down, looking purposeful about getting in.

I think we are not alone in the animal kingdom in picking up our behaviors, for better and for worse, from observing what others around us, including different species, do.


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


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