Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are caring for eight newborn red fox kits, which were thought to be puppies when they were rescued from a storm drain in Colorado Springs.
Five of the kits are at The Animal Clinic of Woodland Park, said co-owner Terri Collins. The clinic posted a Facebook photograph of one kit, tiny enough to fit in someone's hand.
Colorado Springs firefighters found the kits March 15 in a storm drain on Prospect Street south of Pikes Peak Avenue.
They chased what they thought was the mother dog, actually the kits' vixen mother, but it got away.
Then the Fire Department handed the kits over to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, which took them to Powers Pet Emergency & Specialty for overnight care. Veterinarians there determined that the tiny black animals were red fox kits.
The animal hospital referred the kits to licensed wildlife rehabilitators, and five were sent to the Woodland Park clinic.
"We turned them over the day after they were found. We know nothing about wildlife!" Humane Society spokeswoman Katie McDevitt said in an email. The Humane Society works with domestic pets, including cats, dogs, rats, pigs and chickens. It isn't licensed to accept wildlife.
Collins said she had hoped to reunite the kits with their mother. But conditions were challenging, with heavy construction around the storm drain, snow approaching and the vixen still missing.
"I felt really bad about taking them away from their mother," Collins said Tuesday. The five kits, which were 24 to 48 hours old when she got them, haven't opened their eyes yet.
But they're doing well, she said, and "they're growing daily, that's for sure."
The kits eventually will be moved to a facility with an outdoor enclosure, then set free, Collins said. Passersby should leave wildlife alone unless an animal is in "extreme distress," she emphasized.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198