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Fox without socks takes a liking to shoes

Rachel Moore, October 21, 2020 6:45PM The Advertiser

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The fox’s den. Picture: Sheree Hicks media_cameraThe fox’s den. Picture: Sheree Hicks


Reading level: green

A cunning thief is stealing shoes from front verandas in Adelaide’s western suburbs.

But this intruder is proving tricky to stop, prowling the area mostly at night and hiding its loot on the sly* in its den.

The shoe stealer is a fox and has become the talk of the Henley Beach South community in South Australia, with several residents reporting having boots and sneakers taken from the front of their homes.

Sheree Hicks has had shoes taken from the veranda at her house, and also had four chickens killed by a fox about four weeks ago.

“My neighbour said, ‘Did you happen to look after a puppy last night? Our shoes are scattered all over the cul-de-sac*’,” Mrs Hicks said.

“We also had shoes scattered from our front porch on to our lawn. I thought, ‘What the heck, what’s going on here?’. Then I thought, ‘My gosh, it’s a fox’.”

Determined not to be outfoxed by the thief, with the help of her children she went in search of a den and found one on the northern side of the River Torrens Linear Park, near the river mouth. “We found it and there was a shoe sitting at the entrance,” Mrs Hicks said. “I have lived in Henley Beach my entire life and I have never heard of this many foxes.”

Supplied Editorial Images to be uploaded media_cameraSome of the stolen shoes, after they were found again. Picture: Sheree Hicks

She said the shoe-stealing fox was the talk of the community.

Randolf Evans was walking his dog along the Linear Park when he noticed lots of shoes strewn* around the area.

“You come out in the morning and the last thing you expect is for your shoes to have gone missing,” Mr Evans said.

He posted his find to social media, and said several people had gone to the den to retrieve their shoes.

Flinders University Professor of Biodiversity and Conservation Karen Burke da Silva said foxes were attracted to the “lovely, strong scent emanating* from the shoes”.

“Foxes are part of the dog group, and most people who have had a domestic dog in their house know how much of a shoe fetish* they have in general,” Prof Burke da Silva said. “I think they’re like, the dirtier the better.”

She said there was a “very big fox population and problem in the Adelaide area”.

“If there is an increase in sightings, it generally indicates that numbers are growing,” she said. “If they are taking chickens, then they would also be taking native wildlife and that’s a problem.”

She said the state’s eradication* program “definitely needs to be strengthened”.

British Red Fox media_cameraIn Australia, foxes are an introduced predator that hunt wildlife.

European red foxes (scientific name: Vulpes vulpes) were first introduced into Australia in 1855 for people to hunt for sport. There were established populations in the wild by 1870.

They are widespread across most of Australia, apart from some islands, western Tasmania and the tropical far north of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.

Foxes hunt ground-nesting birds, mammals and reptiles, including many threatened or endangered native species. They also prey on newborn lambs, goat kids and chooks.



  • sly: sneaky
  • cul-de-sac: dead-end street, a court
  • strewn: thrown about everywhere
  • emanating: coming out from
  • fetish: obsessive like for something
  • eradication: getting rid of completely


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  1. What state is this story from?
  2. Who is Sheree?
  3. Why are there foxes in Australia?
  4. Where do foxes live in Australia?
  5. Why are foxes a problem?


1. What’s in the Story?
Read the story carefully. Write down all of the different features that have been included in this news story that make it interesting and give you information.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity.
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
“Police have discovered that the shoes were not stolen by the fox. They discovered that …” Write an article for Kids News using this starter.

Time: allow at least 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

Aside from this, there is also this!
Brackets are a great literacy tool for adding aside comments, or comments that could be covered over and the sentence still makes sense. What’s inside the brackets is extra information.

They can be used for a variety of effects: to add more detail, to add humour, to connect with the reader etc.

My little brother, (the funniest kid I know) got himself into big trouble today.

Select 3 sentences from the article to add an aside comment to using brackets. Think about not only what you want to add to the sentence, but also what effect you are trying to create

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever seen a fox? What was it doing?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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