Everyone loves foxes, why wouldn’t you? They are so elegant with their fluffy coats, elongated noses and stealthy pace. Their ethereal beauty reminds us of fairytales and forgotten times. But not many of us know that foxes have a lot in common with cats for example.
So, what else don’t you know about foxes that – trust me – you want to know?
Here is a short list of 10 fascinating facts about foxes that will surprise you, and some references to small knowledge nooks where you can find out more about these mesmerising creatures.
Let’s not forget; Open Cages has a whole campaign dedicated to banning fur. With a fundraising appeal running through the whole month of December, showing that foxes – with the example of Maciek the rescued fox shown above – are needing your support!
1.They have a lot in common with cats
Foxes have much more in common with cats than you’d think, despite being part of the Canidae family with wolves, dogs and jackals. First of all, they lead a mostly nocturnal life, being the most active just after the sun goes down. This explains their vertically oriented pupils, which allow them to see in dim light like cats (and unlike dogs).
Several other features and behaviours fascinatingly connect these two species: foxes have similar hunting techniques to cats, consisting of stalking and pouncing on their prey. Foxes have sensitive whiskers and spines on their tongues, and they are the only member of the canine family to be able to climb trees. Some foxes even sleep in trees — just like cats. Can you believe it? Next time you see a fox vertically climbing the stub in your garden, don’t blame it on the drinks!
2. They are solitary
Unlike their canine relatives, foxes are not pack animals. They normally hunt and sleep alone. Only, when they are raising their kits, they get into the habit of living in small families called a ‘leash of foxes’ or a ‘skulk of foxes’ in underground dens.
3. They use the earth’s magnetic field to hunt
Foxes exploit their ‘magnetic sense’ to hunt. Other animals, like birds, sharks, and turtles, have been shown to possess a ‘magnetic sense’, but the fox is the first one that has been observed using it to catch prey.
According to New Scientist, foxes can see the earth’s magnetic field as a ‘ring of shadow’ on their eyes that darkens as it heads towards the magnetic north. When the shadow and the sound the prey is making line up, it is time to pounce.
Observe how the fox recorded in this delightful video jumps high into the air before dropping onto its prey. In this study, when prey were hidden, foxes almost always jumped north-east. Such attacks were successful 72 % of the time, compared with 18% of attacks in other directions.
4. Arctic foxes don’t shiver until -70° Celsius
Arctic foxes – like our fundraising Campaign mascot Maciek – don’t even start getting cold until temperatures drop to -70°C. This makes arctic foxes one of the most cold-weather resistant animals in the world. Additionally, their beautiful white coat helps them to camouflage in the snow to avoid predators.
5. Foxes appear prominently throughout folklore
Foxes have always tingled storyteller’s imaginations, since Ancient Greek times. In these folktales, foxes came to symbolise strategic and fast thinking, the ability to adjust to new situations, resourcefulness, craftiness and sometimes trickery. Well-known examples include Aesop’s The Fox and the Crow; the nine-tail fox from various Asian cultures; the Reynard tales from medieval Europe; the sly trickster fox from Native American lore; and The Finnish believed a fox made the Northern Lights by running in the snow so that its tail swept sparks into the sky.
6. They have impeccable hearing
Red foxes in particular, have great hearing. It has been in fact reported that a red fox can hear a watch ticking from 36 meters away. Their impeccable hearing helps them to identify prey underground, and to avoid predators.
Additionally, sound is important for other aspects of fox life too. Foxes communicate, over both long and short distances, with sound and also use it to recognise possible danger.
7. They produce up to 40 different sounds
Foxes make 40 different sounds, some of which you can listen to here: the Vixen’s scream, the alarm bark, the fox cry, the fox howl, and the well-known ‘Gekkering’. Gekkering is described as a series of guttural chattering, and it is the most common noise made by foxes, especially during a dispute.
One of the most recognizable sounds that foxes make is their scream-like howl, which is sure to send a shiver up your spine. These noises used to create panic among medieval communities because of their resemblance to women screams, often attributed to witches during those times.
8. Foxes are very playful creatures
Foxes love to play. They are even known to steal golf balls from golf courses to play with! How cute is that? Foxes can play alone, with other foxes or even with other animals such as deers.
Because of their friendly and curious nature they hate being constricted into small cages, and in fact they suffer tremendously in fur farms, both physically and psychologically. This is one of the reasons why several European countries – such as the UK and most recently Hungary – have banned fur farming within the last twenty years. However, fur can still be sold in the UK, and that is why Open Cages is fighting for a #FurFreeBritain. Sign and share the petition here!
We also have a dedicated blog post to show you How you can Fight Fur Farm Cruelty here.
9. They live underground
Fox families live in underground dens. When the vixen has her kits — a litter of foxes can range between one and 11 kits — they live in the den together for seven months while the kits grow. The kits live in the den with the vixen, while the male fox gathers food. These underground dens also provide shelter from predators, such as coyotes, wolves, and bears. Humans, however, are the largest threat to foxes.
10. Darwin discovered a fox species
Not many people are aware of the fact that during his voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin discovered a fox species. This fox species is today called Darwin’s Fox. This small gray fox is critically endangered and lives in only two places in the world: one population is on the Island of Chiloé in Chile, and the second is in a Chilean National Park. Interesting right?
Some concluding remarks…
How many fascinating fox facts have we learnt today?!
I just want to conclude this article with an appeal for foxes – and all the other animals suffering because of the fur farming system – simply because they deserve it!
This month, we have a one-off chance to help these animals. In fact, throughout the month of December, a generous donor has offered to match new monthly donations made to Open Cages.
The fur industry in Europe is on the brink of total collapse. You may have already heard this; in the last few weeks, coverage of the industry’s failings has been pretty easy to come by. We have seen fur bans beckon in Poland and Estonia; mutant COVID cases afflicting Danish mink; people and governments across the world waking up to the cruelty of this out-dated industry. The fur industry is under more pressure than ever before. Years of campaigning, some shocking investigations, and the pandemic have combined to create a perfect storm.
Open Cages is committed to taking down the fur industry – and now, at last, the end is in sight. We need to seize the moment – and every animal lover who joins the fight will help take us closer to victory.
You can take that chance right now by clicking here.