CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A 22News viewer provided an update on the fox family living in her Chicopee yard.

Mrs. Doolittle, as her son calls her, told 22News a mama fox is taking care of five of her pups and living under her shed and in a foxhole out in their field. She enjoys watching them play which is every day between 5 and 7 a.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. and says they are used to her voice.

The homeowners moved their tractor from the shed to into the garage so they wouldn’t disturb the foxes. However, they say it now smells like dead animals and hope the foxes move out.

According to MassWildlife, the family will not become independent until the fall. They feed on small rodents, squirrels, rabbits, birds, eggs, insects, vegetation, fruit, and dead animals. They store extra food in storage sites and often dig it up and relocate it.

Red and gray foxes are abundant in Massachusetts and can live close to humans as they only require a source of food, water and cover. They are usually shy but are also very curious. You can see foxes in western Massachusetts all year round.

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MassWildlife offers the following information on how to avoid conflicts with foxes in your neighborhood:

Tips for residents

Foxes can thrive close to humans in suburban and urban areas. They require only a source of food, water, and cover. If you want to make your property less attractive to foxes and avoid having any problems with these small predators, follow these basic practices. Remember, share these tips with your neighbors; your efforts will be futile if neighbors provide food or shelter for foxes.

Don’t feed or pet foxes

Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause foxes to act tame and over time, may lead to bold behavior. Foxes that rely on natural food items remain wild and wary of humans. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight-fitting lids and keep in secure buildings when possible. Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night. Keep compost in secure, vented containers.

Close off crawl spaces

Foxes will use areas under porches and sheds for resting and raising young. Close these areas off to prevent animals from using them.

Keep bird feeder areas clean

Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground, as the seed attracts many small mammals foxes prey upon. Remove feeders if foxes are regularly seen around your yard.

Don’t let foxes intimidate you

Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten foxes with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose.

Cut back brushy edges

These areas provide prime cover for foxes and their prey.

Protect livestock

Keep livestock such as rabbits and chickens in secure enclosures that prevent entry from above and below.

Pet owners

Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, foxes can view cats as potential food. For the safety of your pets, keep them leashed at all times. Additionally, feed your pets indoors. Outdoor feeding can attract many wild animals. Foxes are important and valuable natural resources in Massachusetts. They are classified as furbearer species, for which regulated hunting seasons and management programs have been established.

If you are experiencing problems with foxes or have questions, contact your nearest MassWildlife office.