Photographer Kevin Hehir is the only known person ever to have seen a black fox in Britain - and he may regret it.

The creature is supposed to bring doom and disaster to anyone who sees it. According to British tradition, the black fox is able to hide in a person's shadow and never be seen.

What makes this sighting particularly spooky is that the black fox was spotted in a cemetery in Chorley, Lancashire.

In British tradition, the country is haunted by black creatures that bring extreme bad luck - or death - to any person who sees them. Ghostly black dogs are reputed to roam the countryside, some with eyes as red as fire and the size of saucers, others with backward-pointing feet and some that emit an eerie glow. These creatures have their own local names depending on which part of the country they haunt - such as "Black Shuck" or "Padfoot."

However, whereas the black cat is seen as unlucky in most countries - such as the witch's cat at Halloween - in Britain the black cat is lucky.

First British sighting of rare black fox captured on film

18th September 2008
Daily Mail

According to legend, it brings doom and disaster to anyone who sees it.

But an amateur photographer could hardly believe his luck when he spotted an extremely rare black fox. Kevin Hehir, 48, from Preston, saw it in a Lancashire cemetery.

He said: 'I thought it was the Devil looking at me. Then I thought, "It's a myth, there's no such thing". But I managed to get right up to it and it's definitely a young black fox.

A fox first: Kevin Hehir is the first person to spot a black fox in Britain - a creature which, according to British legend, is able to hide inside a person's shadow

'It was on the outskirts of Chorley, but I don't want to give the exact location as I don't want people to try to catch it.'

In British tradition, black foxes are bringers of bad luck. And rural communities used to tell of a fox as 'black as night, so that it could live in a man's shadow and never be seen'.

David Dunlop, of Lancashire Wildlife Trust, said: 'As far as I know only one black fox has ever been seen in this country before.'

The rare black fox cub peeks out from behind a rock

The black fox skulks off among the gravestones, unaware of the commotion it's caused

The black fox is in fact an ordinary red fox which has black fur or is going through a phase where the colour of its fur is particulary dark. The phenomenon is normally seen in growing cubs and generally the fox will develop to have a dark chestnut coat.

However a few red foxes will remain black due to a rare genetic flaw dating back hundreds of years. In North America, foxes with black coats are often found with a variable amount of white or white-banded hair in the dark coat.

Centuries-old superstitions are often found attached to black animals, such as black dogs and black cats.

David Dunlop, Lancashire Wildlife Trust conservation officer, said: 'It's an ancient tradition, originating from the black dog which was said to bring doom and disaster to those who see it.'

The red fox was introduced to America by the peans and black foxes exist in much greater numbers there because they were not hunted as widely.

In the UK their pelts were highly prized in the fur trade and it is believed the genetic strain became much scarcer.

Mr Dunlop said: 'Only one black fox has been seen and, as far as I know, it's the only one to be seen in this country before.

'In North America, I think it's about one in five red foxes are black but that's because they were introduced from Europe.'

  • This sneaky fox managed to escape paying for his ticket and found the perfect spot to watch the cricket. The cheeky critter is pictured perched on the sight screen at the county championship match between Surrey and Nottinghamshire at the Brit Oval today. But he soon got bored and scampered out of the stadium after he was spotted by people in the crowd.

Cricket fan: This sneaky fox perched on the sight screen at the county championship match between Surrey and Nottinghamshire at the Oval