playful red fox cubs near the den, playing while vixen is out to hunt.

15 Fun Fox Facts to Fuel Your Fascination

Sly and slinky, foxes are well-known tricksters in folklore. This frisky forest creature is charismatic and well-known, but there may be some facts about foxes you haven’t discovered yet. 

Vocal Vixens and Chatty Kits

Cute fox in the grass with open mouth.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

First, the obvious question: what does the fox say? The answer is much more interesting than you might assume. Foxes produce a stunning range of sounds, from eerie screams and friendly barks, but that’s not all. 

A Foxy Serenade

Two foxes together in the snow.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Their nocturnal vocalizations have been compared to hooting owls, squawking parrots, or sobbing humans. Foxes also purr when they’re happy. They exclaim, “Wow, wow, wow!” to greet each other, and mother foxes whimper to soothe their babies.

What Do You Call a Foxy Get-Together?

playful red fox cubs near the den, playing while vixen is out to hunt.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

A family group of foxes is usually called a “skulk,” but if you are referring to a group of domesticated or captive foxes, that would be called a “leash.” 

Architects of the Earth

Bat-eared fox cubs (Otocyon megalotis).
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Foxes are ambitious excavators, creating elaborate dens. These dens (or earths) may have multiple chambers, with a lengthy entrance tunnel and some additional passages to the surface,  just in case. One researcher counted a record nineteen tunnels leading to a single den.

Guided by Magnets

Group of foxes with black paws sitting together.Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Scientists don’t quite understand how they do it, but foxes seem to be sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field. They reliably build their dens (or earths) on south-east facing slopes, and they even use their inner compasses to hunt.

Fun fact: a team of biologists led by Jaroslav Červený discovered that foxes are much more accurate when they pounce in a north-easterly direction!

Wily and Worldwide

Fox stretching in the snow.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

When you picture a fox, you probably imagine the “red fox” (vulpus vulpus.) While the red fox is the most familiar and widely known, there are actually twelve species (and forty five subspecies!) belonging to the “true fox” family, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica.

The Red Fox’s Colorful Secret

Snoozing curled up arctic fox on a log.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Speaking of red foxes, these tricky creatures are not always “red” at all. Red foxes can be found with a gorgeous array of color “morphs” made up of silvery gray, smokey brown and white.

Desert Dwellers to Tundra Trotters

Close-up of a Fennec fox which has very big ears.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Foxes aren’t just forest creatures, either. The arctic fox roams the snowy tundra, and the swift fox and the cape fox both prowl the grasslands. Several foxes have adapted to live in desert landscapes, including the adorable fennec fox.

An Intriguing Evolutionary Journey

fox looking peaceful.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

True foxes are in the Canidae family, like dogs, coyotes and wolves. Gray foxes are in this family too, but their branch of the family tree split long ago, so they are only distant cousins.

Cat-Like Claws

A young red fox with a bushy tail on top of a rock in autumn.
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Like all members of the Canidae family, foxes walk on their “toes.” However, their paws have a special feature that distinguishes them from their dog-like relatives: the claws of a fox are semi-retractable. Being able to retract their claws keeps their steps quiet like a cat.

Foxes Aloft

fox walking down a log.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Foxes can’t grip tree trunks as effectively as a cat, in part because their shoulders don’t rotate the same way. Nevertheless, they do climb trees and can be found high in the branches, basking in the sun, or raiding bird nests.

Arctic Acrobatics

fox jumping up to pounce on prey.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Foxes in cold climates hunt with a particular combination of cunning and grace. First, they listen carefully for sounds of movement, such as a rodent tunneling through the snow. Next, they crouch low, spring straight up with all four legs, and launch themselves snout-first into the snow like an Olympic diver.

Relatable Den Stories

A closeup of red Kit foxes playing on roots of a tree covered with moss.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.

Like human offspring, fox kits will sometimes sprint away to avoid a bath from a parent. Researchers have observed vixens chasing their kits, pinning them with a foreleg, and completing the cleaning routine. This persists until kits are agile enough to escape their parents (and presumably groom themselves.)

Perhaps also like human children, fox kits get their share of the hunt by begging, chasing and nudging their parents until the adult relinquishes a tasty treat.

Maintaining Family Harmony in the Wild

Red fox cubs sitting by the den.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos

Foxes don’t form packs but they may live in small family groups, if there are enough resources around to support them all. When the kits reach maturity, they might inherit some territory from their parents, or divide their turf into separate patches.

Fox Family Generations

Red fox mother and cub snuggle.
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Although males will keep their distance once the boundaries are set, female fox cubs will often stay near their birth den to help their mother rear another season's cubs. Female foxes have been seen visiting each other freely.

Sources: wiki, zslpublications, pestpointers

Looking At Cute Animals Increases Your Sense of Well-Being

Siberian Husky dog with narrow eyes, funny smiling at camera.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Indeed, a recent study with over 1800 participants gave us a reason why we should look at more cute dog photos.

Unexpected Facts About the Fluffy Red Panda

Red Panda, Firefox or Lesser Panda relaxing in a tree.
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Red pandas are not actually related to giant pandas. This ancient carnivorous species is more closely related to skunks, raccoons, and weasels.

18 Interesting Facts About Meerkats

Meerkat peering over a branch.
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Meerkats, with their tight-knit social structures and quirky habits are definitely interesting. For one thing – they like to eat scorpions!

Author: Amelia Bowler

Amelia Bowler is a writer, behavior consultant, illustrator, parent, and logic puzzle enthusiast. She's always been happiest in the company of odd ducks, rule-breakers, and scatterbrains. A bit of an odd duck herself, Amelia took a teaching degree in the hopes that she'd be able to create learning environments where kids like her could thrive.

Amelia has a Master's Degree in Applied Disability Studies and has worked in clinics supporting children with developmental disabilities, specializing in teens with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.