Are Foxes Nocturnal? The Most Amazing Fox Facts For Kids

Deepthi Reddy
Feb 20, 2023 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Yelling Red Fox Standing on the Grass
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Foxes are mysterious animals; their behavior and nocturnal habits are different from other animals.

Foxes are social animals and usually live in packs. Foxes are also nocturnal, and hunt at night for their food.

Although foxes belong to the family, Canidae, they have unique behaviors and habits that distinguish them from other canids like dogs and wolves. Though foxes are nocturnal, sometimes, if needed, they come out during the daytime. They are also known as crepuscular animals that are active when the sun goes down or during twilight.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, a group of foxes is known as skulk, earth, or leash; but popularly, they are called packs. No matter what you call their groups, a fox always loves to live with its family members.

In a pack of foxes you can find mates, mothers, older siblings, foxes of the same breeding age, and pups. Female foxes are known as vixens, and male foxes are known as dog foxes or tods.

If you enjoy this article, also read about did you know, 17 incredible pemba flying fox facts and are foxes omnivores? Right here on Kidadl!

Why do foxes hunt at night?

Foxes are nocturnal and generally hunt during the night, sleeping during the daytime.

Most foxes are rarely active during the day. However, this behavior depends on the location where the fox pack lives.

According to the National Parks and Wildlife Service of Ireland, if a fox pack thinks they live in a safe place, they may venture out during daylight hours. Because of their nocturnal habit, foxes have excellent eyesight. Foxes have eyes like cats and dogs with vertically cut pupils, which shine in the dark.

Since foxes are nocturnal creatures, they can see exceptionally well at night, so they enjoy hunting at night. A fox can easily catch its prey even in sheer darkness with its excellent hearing and navigation features.

Because they can be the prey of other wild animals, a fox usually hunts at night. Foxes also have excellent nocturnal features, they can communicate by sound and scent.

When foxes bury or hide their food, the fox marks these areas with urine and returns to eat them later. The perfect midnight meal to savor!

The most compelling reason foxes hunt at night is due to their unique characteristic that makes them hunt even in the dark and snow. Scientists have researched that foxes use a magnetic field to survey by diving into triangles to catch prey.

Foxes use this magnetic field for hunting like a guided missile. Other creatures which have this magnetic field sense are sharks, turtles, and birds. Although the fox is the first animal known to use magnetic sense to catch its prey.

Another reason for going out to hunt and catch its prey at night is that they can see clearly at night with the help of tapetum lucidum, just like cats. Also, did you know foxes scream at night?

There are many reasons they do so. They scream to communicate with each other, as a mating call, marking their territory, or to warn when a predator approaches.

Due to urbanization, the destruction of forests has forced foxes to search for other homes. It has become relatively common in urban areas to see red foxes coming out during daylight hours. There are different fox species like the red fox, gray fox, and Arctic fox; gray foxes are classified as ‘Near Threatened.’

Furthermore, A fox can run at a speed of 45 mph (72 kph), so if you ever disturb a fox, you better run fast!

Where do foxes go during the day?

Foxes are medium-sized animals; they live in small packs and do not mingle with other animals.

Did you know that a baby fox is born blind? They stay blind for many days, at least 2-3 weeks. They stay inside their den until they can see so they stay safe from predators. Fox species have undergone a long evolutionary process.

For example, red foxes have traveled across continents. Arctic foxes are native to Iceland, suggesting that they adapted themselves to the frozen world. Foxes are nocturnal creatures, so what exactly do they do in the daytime?

Most foxes usually sleep throughout the daylight hours. Although foxes live in small groups, they rarely socialize during the daytime.

Some countryside red foxes may come out of the wild to attack domesticated animals or pets when they are starving; it is typical for a red fox to attack dogs. Due to recent human activity, there have been reports from the countryside that in urban areas red foxes are active during the day in search of food.

Foxes forage alone though they live in small groups. During daylight, when foxes are not sleeping, they might play or groom each other.

A fox's pups love to play. When they are resting, they rest somewhere under the bushes, in a sunny spot, or under the lower branches of a tree.

While foxes are resting, if they find birds, chipmunks, squirrels, or any other animal nearby that are active during the day, the fox might chase them for food. So, it is become fairly normal for foxes to be out and even hunt during the day.

If you live in the countryside and see a fox in the day, or you come across a fox, stand away from the fox and give the fox an escape route. When you see a fox, it is best to avoid making any sudden movements, although foxes generally stay away from humans, too much panic will scare the fox.

What time are foxes most active?

Foxes have a unique ability to smell and have an extreme hearing capacity that helps them identify their prey, even those in the distance as far as 0.6 mi (1 km) away, even its underground prey. They have accurate night vision that helps them hunt at night without missing their prey amid the wildlife.

Foxes are energetic animals, and they go out at any time of the day, but due to their nocturnal behavior they mainly hunt at night. Foxes coming out of their den in the daylight is not unusual. They remain active all through the year and do not hibernate.

Portrait of a red fox

Foxes venture out a few hours before sunset and return to their den before the sun rises or few hours before dawn. They might lea\e their den at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. and come back before 5 or 6 a.m. But it mainly depends on the location and time zone.

Foxes have territorial instincts; they follow the route close to their den for hunting. When in a new locality, for the first night, foxes spend hours searching and monitoring the territory and identify the best hunting spots. During the mating season, which occurs in winter, it is not uncommon to spot two foxes hunting together.

Research has suggested that foxes engage in 86% of their activity after it gets dark. From early summer to early winter, it has been registered that adult foxes venture out even in broad daylight in search of food to feed their young ones and to teach them to hunt and eat.

The nocturnal behavior could have evolved due to their hunting patterns. Like many other nocturnal animals, foxes like to avoid their predators. They go out with less competition, less distraction, and no one to interrupt their hunt.

 

Do foxes stay in one area?

There are different species of fox around the world, everywhere from deserts to the Arctic region. The most common fox, which is commonly found in most cities worldwide, is the red fox. The red foxes are found in almost every city, town, and rural area. Although they are commonly found, they are mysterious creatures.

Foxes may temporarily leave their territory if they find food resources in nearby areas. For example, foxes in Japan’s Shiretoko National Park were found to leave their territory for three days to find food sources. Although they did not go more than 5 mi (8 km) away, they paid more attention to their feeding and resting places.

Foxes live in forested areas hiding from predators near bushes and shrubs. They are also found in the grasslands, mountains, and deserts.

Foxes try to sleep in the same place every night. They might sleep near their dens or within the opening of the den. They build their dens by digging burrows underground.

These dens are good resting places, and a safe place for their pups. When predators approach them, they can hide in these dens under the ground. Both an adult and a baby red fox, can sleep for up to ten hours a day.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for, are foxes nocturnal?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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