Why Do Foxes Scream?


The sound of a fox screaming at night might sound as if a real horror movie is being filmed outside your house. There are a few reasons why foxes scream, and in this article, I wanted to explain some of these reasons.

Foxes can be heard screaming to attract a mate. They also scream during and after mating. Foxes also scream to communicate with other foxes. Their screams can also be used to warn away predators.

If you want to know more about why foxes scream, please read on for more details. 

Foxes are dog-like in their appearance with a sharp-pointed face and ears. They have an agile and lightly built body, and male foxes are slightly larger than females. A mature fox usually weighs between 8 and 12 pounds and is between 48 and 57 inches long.

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There are several common color variations, but the most common colors are various shades of red. Foxes have a faint dark red line running along their back. They have black paws, black behind the ears, a white underside and throat, a faint black muzzle, a white tail tip, and white stockings.

Foxes can generally be seen at night, but you can also see them during the daytime. They are omnivorous animals, and they eat bugs, shrews, mice, snakes, worms, seeds, and fruits.

Foxes are not especially choosy when it comes to food. They can often be seen rummaging through trash cans for food. Foxes are normally seen on their own.

Vocalization

Like dogs, foxes have a wide variety of vocalizations. Dogs are known to bark, but dogs also make other kinds of sounds. Dogs can be heard howling, yelping, growling, and whining, along with other sounds. The same is also true of foxes. 

Foxes are capable of making a lot of different sounds and vocalizations. However, the sound of a fox is much higher in pitch than a dog’s, and this is one of the reasons we can often hear them scream.

Foxes can be especially noisy during the mating season. However, during other times of the year, they go mostly unnoticed. Foxes make around thirty different sounds that they use as a means of communicating with each other. 

Male foxes, when proclaiming their territory, are known to make a sound that is a triple-bark. Foxes are also known to make a loud a-woo’ howl that sounds similar to a dog howling.

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Foxes will growl when they are ready to fight another over territory or a female.  When they are willing to surrender to a dominant fox, they whine and whimper. Foxes making these sounds do not wish to be aggressive. 

A whimpering sound is used for a fox cub to let their parents know when they are hungry or cold. Cubs often use these sounds to bring attention to themselves.

Foxes do bark, and it sounds like a dog bark. Foxes usually bark when they are suddenly surprised. They do this to alert other foxes in the area that there is something wrong.

Foxes also growl, and like dogs, they will growl for the same reason. When a fox feels threatened, it will growl at a predator. Foxes will growl while taking a defensive posture. This posture will let the other animal know they are willing to fight. Foxes would, however, prefer the animal runs away rather than attack.

The most common sound you hear from a fox is the scream. All species of foxes are capable of screaming. However, the red fox is the most noted for this noise as they are the most common species in urban areas.

Red foxes can be very vocal. They are widely known for their shrill screaming sound, which you generally hear during the night. 

If you have any experience of foxes coming into your garden or in your neighborhood, then you may be familiar with this noise. If not, you may think someone is getting attacked outside your window.

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What Does A Fox Scream Sound Like?

People have described the screams of a fox in many different ways. However, all can agree that their screams are deafening, terrifying, and high-pitched.

The sound is a shrill scream that sounds like someone crying for help. It can be very frightening to hear such screams when lying in bed at night.

Some have described the scream to sound like a human baby. Hearing it, you may at first suspect that someone is screaming for help. The scream of a fox sounds like a human scream.

People have sometimes called the police hearing the scream of a fox, thinking that someone in distress made them. The screams can be incredibly unsettling and are one reason people buy fox repellant for their yard.

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A fox scream is high pitched, husky, and monosyllabic. Foxes scream in sets, stopping and starting again in 3 to 10-second intervals

These noises are often heard in urban places during winter. This is not because foxes are more vocal during this time of the year. This is because their screams travel further because of the cold air and lack of vegetation.

Why Do Foxes Scream?

There are several reasons why foxes scream so loudly. Here are some of them.

Communication

Foxes are intelligent animals and can communicate and cooperate with others. Foxes have some strange behaviors, but there is a purpose to everything they do.

Many assume that foxes scream because they are fighting or crying out in pain, but this is not the case. Foxes use a scream to contact each other. 

Foxes usually live alone, but when they want to locate another family member, they use the scream as a means of communication. Screaming is a part of a fox’s social interaction. 

Want to know how red foxes survive in winter? Find out here.

Mating

Foxes are nocturnal animals. Most nights are spent hunting for food, but during the mating period, foxes will use the scream to find prospective mates.

The mating season is at its peak in January. Red foxes often scream while mating. Both genders can scream, although vixens use this call to lure male foxes to them for mating. 

The vixen screams to let the male know that she is ready to mate. A bark from the male often answers these screams. 

Males have also been found to make the screaming sound occasionally. A short and explosive scream is usually an aggressive male warning its rivals to stay away from its mate.

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When you hear a fox scream, it is generally because the mating season has arrived. Screams are the love calls of foxes. Screaming is done before and after attempts at copulation.

Vixens are most receptive to fertilization for as little as three days in midwinter. Due to this, if a male wants to deter his rivals and ensure his paternity of the spring cubs, he needs to shadow his intended partner closely.

A vixen may rebuff an amorous male with snarls and yelps before a successful mating. Even when mating has finished, the screams can continue as the foxes lock together.

Mating occurs between the pair, tail to tail, in a ‘tied’ position. This can take around 20 minutes or longer, during which the female continues to scream. When the mating is over, the vixen prepares a place for her spring litter.

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Territorial Warning

It is not only during the process of mating that foxes scream. When male foxes have competitors, they scream to assert a claim on their turf. Foxes are extremely territorial.

Another reason foxes scream during the hours of the night is to protect their young. If they feel that intruders are invading their lair, they will scream to ward them off. When screaming at intruders, it is not just the females who will scream.

Males will also join in, giving a short scream of aggression. If the scream does not deter the predator, male foxes may attack.

Foxes scream at night when they are claiming their territory from other foxes. They do not want other foxes to enter their domain, and they try to prevent the invasion by screaming. If you are out walking and hear a fox screaming close by, then you may be close to their den.

Frightened Or Shocked

Foxes scream when they are frightened or shocked. Foxes can be prey just like other smaller animals on the food chain. Wolves and coyotes are some of the common predators to foxes, posing the greatest danger.

If you hear a fox screaming at night, you don’t have to worry about it. It is perfectly normal for a fox to scream. It will be deafening and high-pitched, but this is a normal, natural sound.

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References And Further Reading:

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Nature.

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