There’s nothing more glorious than seeing a frisky fox wandering through the wood behind your house, occasionally attempting to pounce on its prey. Or playful fox pups wrestling frolicking and wrestling as they learn the skills to be a fox. However, even foxes occasionally disappear from view, making you wonder if the predator has become the prey. And if so, who has eaten them?
What animal eats foxes?
There are animals higher up on the food chain which who might enjoy a tasty fox snack. Since foxes are of a smaller size than many carnivores, they are more vulnerable to attack from enemies that are either looking for a meal, protecting their territory, or sometimes even for fun. The list of foxes predators includes:
- Eagles: While eagles only occasionally go of after a full-grown fox (because of size and weight) they will carry off a young fox or a pup. They tend to prefer fish and other birds, but this doesn’t stop them from catching the occasional fox. Eagles kill their prey with their talons, and can carry up to about 1/3 of their body weight. If they capture something too large (like a full-grown fox) they will break it up into pieces before carrying it back to their nests. Both foxes and eagles hunt at night. This gives an advantage to the eagles who see clearly in the dark and swoop down from above.
- Owls: Another night-hunting raptor that kills with its talons, the owls have the added ability to sneak up on their prey with nearly silent wings. This enables them to include foxes as part of their prey. However, it can happen that the attack fails, and the predator becomes the prey, as foxes can attack and eat owls as well.
- Wolves: Although wolves and foxes are related (both from the same species of Canidae) wolves will hunt and kill foxes. True, foxes are not exactly big, so it is unusual for a pack of wolves to go after them. They simply aren’t a big enough meal. Still, for a hungry wolf that hasn’t had a kill, a fox is the perfect size for a snack.
- Coyotes: Foxes really have to watch out for family members. Coyotes will kill and eat a fox for territorial reasons. They don’t specifically hunt for fox, nor will they always eat a fox they kill. Should a fox wander into their territory a bloody battle inevitably occurs. For that reason, foxes usually stay away from coyote territory. However, that has become more difficult as of late, as their environment gets smaller because of humans. More and more foxes and coyotes come into contact because of urban environments.
- Mountain Lions: Another predator that hunts at night, mountain lions make short work of ambushing their prey, including foxes, and giving a killing blow to the neck. Mountain lions are found wherever their are large deer populations, but are not adverse to make a meal out of the smaller fox.
- Bobcats: It is rare for bobcats and foxes to run into each other. Still, because of dwindling territory, it can happen especially at dusk when bobcats hunt. A fox or a young fox is the perfect size for a bobcat who eats about 3lbs. of meat a day.
- Bears: Although bears mostly eat plants, they are omnivorous, opportunistic eaters. This means that, given the chance, they will eat a fox. But more likely they will steal the foxes smaller prey for themselves.
- Wolverines: Wolverines are vicious, brutal killers that will often wound an animal without killing it. Their prey includes foxes. They are also scavengers, so will eat pretty much anything they can find.
- Foxes: Yes, you read that correctly. Foxes will eat other foxes if they are hungry enough. They will sometimes steal a pup from another den for food. As solitary creatures, they also might fight if they run into each other, and if the winner is hungry enough it will eat the loser.
- Humans: Perhaps the worst of foxes enemies is the human. Sometimes we hunt them for food. Often we hunt them for sport. We destroy their habitat. We trap them for their fur. While other animals rarely run into a fox, so only eat them occasionally, we destroy them in greater numbers simply because we can.
While all of these animals will eat foxes, its important to note that they don’t necessarily hunt them intentionally. Often the predation of foxes has more to do with territorial conflict and eliminating competition. They added benefit of an additional meal is just a bonus. The animals that prey on fox also vary depending on location and the type of foxes, as noted below.
What eats red foxes?
The super=predators of red foxes (those who hunt fox with the intent of eating them) are eagles and owls. Still, eagles prefer other foods so only occasionally hunt for red fox. Occasional predators include: long-tailed weasels, ermine, skunks, mink, and snakes. These all like to go after young fox cubs. In North America, hawks and other birds might occasionally go after an adult red fox. And of course, there are human predators as well.
What eats arctic foxes?
Arctic foxes, who live in treeless tundra, have the added advantage of fur that turns white in winter to help camouflage in snow. However, they also have added predators. The animals that prey on them include: polar bears, wolves, golden eagles, grizzly bears, and . . . you guessed it . . . humans!
What eats fennec foxes?
Fennec foxes, with their white, creamy fur and their large ears, are found in Africa and Asia. Because they are agile, and sleep during the day in safe underground burrows, they have few natural predators. However, there are still some animals that will take advantage, given the opportunity. These include: eagle owls, leopards, hyenas, caracals, jackals, and domestic dogs. And of course, humans trap them either to become domestic pets or for their fur.
Ultimately, foxes are high enough up on the food chain that they aren’t natural prey for other predators. They are more likely to be eaten because of the results of a fight over territory, a lucky opportunity, or starvation. Still, these beautiful animals do have one important enemy, and that is human kind.