Fox tracked nearly 200 miles in quest for new home
Published 22/01/2014 | 17:49
An urban fox is believed to have broken records after being tracked on a 195 mile journey to find a new home.
The fox, nicknamed 'Fleet', trekked the equivalent distance of London to Manchester over the course of three weeks.
Experts say the three-year-old embarked on his long journey after he developed lungworm and was forced out of his territory by his son, Fennec.
The pair were fitted with GPS trackers as part of a University of Brighton study run with the BBC for its Winterwatch programme, hosted by wildlife expert Chris Packham.
Over 21 days the team tracked Fleet, originally from Hove, Sussex, on his expedition which is believed to be the longest recorded trip for a fox in the UK.
Starting on December 9 he travelled almost 200 miles through Sussex and into Kent, ending up in Rye, 55 miles away from his original home.
Lead by the university's assistant head of pharmacy and biomolecular sciences Dr Dawn Scott, the study saw the foxes tagged with global positioning system monitors.
Dr Scott said: "It's incredible. The GPS tracker updated us on locations every 30 minutes.
"The data from the study is really important to help us understand the behaviour of urban foxes and especially how they differ from the rural fox."
Initially the father-son duo happily hunted and lived together but the pair split after Fleet began showing the symptoms of lungworm.
Dr Scott explained: "There started to be a bit of competition for food and the younger fox began to show his dominance.
"We don't exactly know what happened but we think Fennec pushed him out and that pressure caused him to leave and try to find somewhere else.
"In Brighton and Hove we estimate there are 20 foxes per square kilometre, so there can be a lot of competition.
"We know they move between urban and rural areas but what happened next we were not expecting."
She added: "We know foxes travel to find new territory but we didn't expect to see one go quite so far.
"Especially as Fleet is an urban fox. He was born in Brighton and Hove and raised his young there."