Why Do Foxes Scream?


One of the scariest sounds in nature is the sound of a fox screaming at night. Foxes scream for many reasons, and I explain some of these in this article.

Foxes scream to attract mates and will scream while mating and after they have finished. Screaming is a way to communicate with other foxes in the area and can also be used to scare away would-be attackers.

If you have ever heard a fox scream, you won’t soon forget it. If you want more information, then this article is for you.

Foxes can be found in many countries worldwide and live throughout most of Europe, Asia, North America, Australasia, and Africa.

Male foxes are larger than females, with a length of up to 57 inches long and a weight of 12 pounds. They are dog-like and members of the canine family. They have pointed faces and ears. They have an agile, 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.

There are many different colours of fox, although most that you will see are various shades of red. Foxes have a faint dark red line running along their back, with black paws and white stockings, black behind the ears, and a pale black muzzle. Their underside and throat are white, with a white tip to their tail.

Foxes are solitary animals and are seen more at night, although they can often be seen sunning themselves during the day. They are more likely to be heard at night.

They are omnivores, eating bugs, shrews, mice, snakes, worms, seeds, and fruits. They can often be found in urban areas looking for food in trash cans and garbage.

Types of sound

Foxes are like dogs in that they have many different sounds which they use to communicate. Foxes are known to bark but can also make other kinds of sounds. Foxes can be heard howling, yelping, growling, whining, and making other sounds, much like dogs.

Foxes can make a lot of different vocalizations and sounds. Compared to a dog, however, the sound of a fox is much higher in pitch. Because of this, we often hear foxes scream, especially at night.

One of the times of the year that foxes are noisier is during mating season. This usually occurs during January and is when you will most likely hear them. Throughout the rest of the year, you may not notice foxes.

Foxes are capable of making around thirty different sounds. They use these sounds to communicate with each other, just like most other animals.

Fox cubs will whimper when they are cold or hungry. This lets their parents know that it is time to feed them or look after them. Cubs will use these sounds to survive and bring attention to themselves.

As with many animals, Foxes will growl aggressively when they are ready to fight another fox. These fights can be over territory or females.  Once the fight is underway, the losing fox will surrender to the dominant fox. The losing fox will show that they no longer wish to fight by whimpering and whining. Foxes making these sounds do not want to be aggressive. 

Another sound that you may hear from foxes is a triple-bark. These are made by male foxes only and signify to others when proclaiming their territory.

Foxes do bark, and although it sounds like a dog bark, it is usually higher-pitched. Foxes typically bark when they are suddenly surprised, and this sound will alert other foxes in the area that there is something amiss. Foxes are also known to make a loud a-woo. This is a howl that sounds similar to a dog howling.

Foxes also growl when they feel threatened, much like dogs. Whenever they feel threatened, growling at a predator may scare them off, giving the fox time to escape. The fox will also adopt a defensive posture to let the other animal know they are willing to fight. Foxes do not like fighting and would prefer to scare the predator away.

The most common sound you hear from a fox is the scream. When foxes are in mating season throughout January, you can listen to foxes screaming almost every night. All species of foxes can scream. However, the red fox is most heard as they are the most common species in urban and suburban areas.

Red foxes are the most vocal species. Their screams are high-pitched and shrill and can be heard throughout the night. The first time you hear a fox scream, you may think someone is being attacked. I would look out the window anyway to make sure.

If you regularly see foxes in your garden or around where you live, you can probably safely assume it is a fox, especially at the start of the year. If you have any experience of foxes coming into your garden or in your neighbourhood, you may be familiar with this noise.

What do foxes sound like when they scream?

A foxes scream is a high-pitched sound similar to someone crying for help. It can be very frightening to hear a fox scream while lying in bed at night.

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

There are many descriptions of the scream of a fox. Deafening, high-pitched, shrill, terrifying, and horrifying are just ways people who have heard a fox scream describe it.

Once you have heard a fox scream, it may not surprise you that the police have been called on numerous occasions by people hearing a fox scream, as it sounds very much like someone in distress. The screams can be frightening, and you may have trouble getting back to sleep.

Here is a comment on YouTube about the sound of a fox screaming. “I can’t tell you how many times I have been sitting outside late at night, heard this, and nearly had a heart attack thinking some woman was brutally murdered near me. I have been creeped out beyond belief before hearing this alone at 3 in the morning while in the woods.”

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

These noises are often heard in urban areas during winter and especially in January. In winter, the sound travels further due to the cold air and lack of vegetation.

Why foxes scream

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

To communicate

Foxes, although mostly solitary, can communicate and cooperate with others. Many assume that foxes scream because they are fighting or crying out in pain, but this is not true. Foxes use the scream to stay in contact with each other. 

When foxes want to locate another family member, they scream as a means of communication. Screaming is a part of a fox’s social interaction. 

Mating

Foxes are nocturnal animals. Most nights are spent hunting for food, but foxes will scream to find prospective mates during the mating period. The scream is mainly heard as it is usually the loudest.

The mating season reaches its peak in January. Red foxes also scream while mating. Both the male and female will scream, although vixens use this call to lure male foxes to them for mating. 

The vixen looks for a mate and screams to let the male know she is ready. When you hear a scream, you may hear a bark from the male soon after.

Males have been found to make the screaming sound sometimes. A male’s scream is much shorter, and this is usually an aggressive male warning its rivals to stay away from its mate.

Hearing a fox scream is usually an indication that the mating season has arrived. Screaming is carried out before and after attempts at copulation.

Vixens are most receptive to fertilization for as little as three days in midwinter. Because of the short amount of time to get pregnant, a male needs to deter his rivals and will shadow his intended partner closely. A vixen may snarl and yelp at a male before a successful mating.

Once mating has finished, the screams can continue as the foxes lock together. Mating occurs between the pair, tail to tail, in a ‘tied’ position. The act can take around 20 minutes, during which the female will continue to scream. When the mating is over, the vixen prepares a place for her litter to be born in the spring.

Territorial Warning

The scream is not only used during the act of mating. It is not only during the process of mating that foxes scream. Male foxes have competitors and will scream to claim their turf. Foxes are very territorial animals.

Foxes will also scream during the night to protect their young. If predators attack or invade their den, they will scream to scare them off. When screaming at intruders, both the male and female will scream. Males will also join in, giving a shorter scream. If the scream does not deter the predator, the male may attack.

Foxes will also scream when they are claiming their territory from others. Being territorial, they do not want other foxes to enter their areas and will try to prevent this by screaming. If you hear a fox screaming while walking, you may be close to their den.

Frightened Or Shocked

Foxes scream when they are frightened or shocked. Foxes can also be prey to other animals. Coyotes and wolves are some of the common predators and pose the greatest danger.

If you hear a fox screaming at night, you don’t have to worry about it being in pain. It may be loud, terrifying, and high-pitched, but a fox screaming is one of natures most beautiful sounds.

Squirrels are very vocal animals.  Find out how they sound here

References And Further Reading

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