what do foxes eat

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key point:

  • Foxes hunt mostly at night and are considered solitary animals.
  • Foxes can make more than 40 different sounds.
  • Foxes use the Earth's magnetic field to help them hunt their prey.
what do foxes eat
Foxes are omnivores, feeding on frogs, birds, rodents and rabbits

© AZ-Animals.com

Foxes often get a bad rap, and not just in fairy tales, where they often serve as antagonists or tricksters. Small animal owners know all too well the damage a fox can do in your yard. Despite their bad reputation, foxes are actually pretty friendly. They generally pose little threat to humans and tolerate most household pets.

They tend to mind their own business, and urban foxes will even get along with people in peace. Foxes are known for their curiosity and high energy, and they often get into trouble when they target domesticated chickens, rabbits or ducks. To avoid problems with foxes, it's important to know what they like to eat. That is, what do foxes eat and how do they find food?

In this article, we'll look at foxes' favorite foods, and how they hunt and forage. In addition, we will discuss what wild foxes eat and what pet foxes eat. Finally, we'll end by exploring what little foxes eat. Let's cut to the chase and answer the question of what exactly foxes eat.

What do foxes like to eat?

Fox screaming at night - red fox in the field
Foxes are omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods.

© iStock.com/Rejean Bedard

Contrary to popular belief, foxes are not carnivores, but omnivores. In the wild, foxes will eat a variety of foods, although their diet is mostly meat-based. Generally, they hunt animals when they have the time, but subsist on plants when meat is unavailable.

They especially like high-protein, high-fat foods like fish, eggs, and birds. That said, they also enjoy sweet and savory foods like fruit, dairy, and nuts. In general, you can put the foods that foxes like to eat into 15 categories.

Foxes' favorite foods include:

  • Rodents
  • rabbit
  • birds
  • frog
  • worm
  • insect
  • raccoon
  • reptile
  • Crab
  • mollusk
  • fruit
  • seed
  • fungus
  • vegetable
  • Egg

Foxes will also eat carrion when readily available. If a fox lives near humans, it may also eat garbage or leftover food.

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How often do foxes forage?

Fox Tooth - barking red fox
As long as food is available, these canines will eat it. They can consume 0.5 to 1 kg of food per day.

©iStock.com/Tyrannax

Foxes are known for hunting early in the morning or at night. They mostly wait patiently for the sound of a mouse or other small animal moving along the ground, and only pounce when the time is right. At other times, foxes may hear movement in the ground and start digging for their prey. They've been known to dig fast to find their next meal.

Foxes will eat as much as they can. Due to their amazing hearing, foxes will spot, attack and eat prey once they have found it and they are hungry. As long as food is available, these canines will eat it. They can consume 0.5 to 1 kg of food per day.

How do foxes hunt and forage?

Dingo Breed: Arctic Fox
Foxes will suddenly pounce on their prey, surprising them.

©Agami Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com website

Most foxes are nocturnal and do most of their hunting and foraging at night. That said, it's not uncommon to see foxes out at dusk or dawn, or even during the day. True to nature, most foxes use stealth to hunt. They would rather sneak up on their prey and be caught off guard than run out of food.

Foxes, however, are fast runners and can catch escaping prey if necessary. For example, a red fox can run 30 miles per hour, while a gray fox can run 40 miles per hour. Foxes use raiding techniques to immobilize prey, then use their sharp teeth to kill the target. Typically, they break the neck or back of their prey, or puncture their throat to deliver a fatal blow. If they can't finish a meal in one sitting, foxes may store leftovers nearby and return to pick them up later.

Foxes have adapted their highly coordinated senses to help them hunt at night. Their hearing is so acute, they can hear the squeak of a mouse up to 100 feet away. They can move their ears independently, which allows them to pinpoint exactly where sounds are coming from. Foxes also have an excellent sense of smell. This allowed them to detect animals that were nesting underground.

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Skilled diggers and foxes will quickly burrow into dirt, ice or rocks to hunt insects and small animals. Additionally, foxes have excellent eyesight, which helps them hunt prey at night. They have a 260-degree field of view, although their field of vision relies heavily on them detecting motion. Their vision has a lot in common with cats, and like dogs, they cannot see green or red.

What do foxes eat in the wild?

Animal fox that can see infrared light
Red foxes eat rodents, rabbits, eggs, birds, fruit, carrion, and anything else it can catch.

© iStock.com/The_Near_North

In the wild, a fox's diet varies depending on the season and natural habitat. For example, in more northern climates, foxes eat cold-adapted mammals such as lemmings and snow hares. Meanwhile, foxes living farther south eat more animals adapted to warmer environments.

In winter, foxes mainly eat small mammals, while in summer they eat more fruit, plants and insects. There are also differences between species, although this may have more to do with distribution than biology.

The red fox is the largest and most widely distributed of the true fox species. They feed on many small mammals, including voles, mice, ground squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, woodchucks, gophers, and mice. They also eat songbirds and waterfowl, as well as eggs.

Red foxes may also target larger prey such as raccoons, opossums and porcupines, as well as insects, reptiles and fish. Their diet also includes plant material and fruits such as berries, apples, plums, pears and acorns. At night, red foxes hunt carrion and may target poultry farms. Foxes that live near urban populations will also eat mice, pigeons, or whatever litter they can find.

What Do Pet Foxes Eat?

red fox
The Russian red fox is the only fox species that has been domesticated to some extent.

©RT Images/Shutterstock.com

First, foxes are wild animals. Even captive foxes have feral instincts and should not be treated like domestic dogs. That said, there is a species of fox bred specifically for domestication, the Russian red fox. Still, these foxes require a lot of dedicated care and attention.

In addition to plenty of room to exercise and run, pet foxes require a unique diet to ensure their optimal health. A proper diet for a pet fox will include the proper balance of protein, vitamins and minerals. In general, pet foxes can eat high-quality, grain-free dog food. Just make sure to adjust the ratio according to the weight of your pet fox.

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You can also buy specially formulated fox feed that contains just the right amount of protein and taurine. As a treat, you can include small amounts of fruit and vegetables. Popular treats include:

  • strawberry
  • blueberry
  • apple
  • radish
  • mushroom
  • Egg
  • raw meat

If you let your pet foxes outside, they should also have a regular supply of insects. Alternatively, you can include live insects such as grasshoppers, grubs, crickets, beetles, and caterpillars in their diet. However, there are certain foods you should avoid feeding your fox. These foods can be toxic to your pet fox. Potentially problematic foods include:

  • avocado
  • whole grains
  • grapes and raisins
  • caffeine
  • onion
  • chocolate
  • garlic
  • Pit and Seed

What does the little fox eat?

red fox pair on grass
Young foxes depend on their mother to feed them and teach them how to hunt.

© iStock.com/Harry Collins

Young foxes, or pups, are born blind and completely dependent on their parents for food. For the first two weeks, they eat only regurgitated meat that the moths feed on. Once they can eat the entire food, their mother brings them live small prey such as mice and insects. Practice killing live prey can teach them the skills they need to survive in the wild.

By the time they are ready to go hunting with their mother, fox cubs have developed most of the abilities they need to hunt and forage. If your pet fox is still in the weaning stage, you can give it puppy formula.

About 1 month old, you can start feeding solid food to pet fox babies. It's best to start with a diet of whole meat, especially raw rabbit, chicken, and rodents. Even better if you can supplement its diet with live insects. You can slowly add more food over time as it transitions into adulthood.

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featured image

Fox screaming at night - gray fox in a tree
Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) climbing a tree. The sound the gray fox makes is more like a dog barking than a woman's scream.

© Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com


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