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Do Foxes Live & Travel in Packs?

Foxes do typically not live or travel in packs, except for their family. Foxes often do their best to avoid other animals, including foxes. 

Foxes tend to be solitary animals. They live, hunt, and travel alone.

While there are exceptions to this rule (such as when kits are small) fox families do for the most part not live together. 

In this article, we’ll explore the social behavior of foxes, how they live, and how they travel.

Do Foxes Live In Packs?

Foxes do not typically live in packs. They may live in a family group consisting of three to five members, but it’s not uncommon for this family to split up when the kits turn into adults.

In a few instances, fox families may also include other foxes in their small pack.

Foxes are solitary animals most of their life, except during mating season. During this time, a mating pair will team up until their kits are big enough to take care of themselves.

foxes playing together

Do Foxes Travel in Packs?

As with their living situation, foxes do not travel in packs, except for the first year after mating. 

For the most part, they avoid other foxes as much as possible, to avoid confrontation and conflict.

A fox often leaves scent markings that other foxes can smell. This way they can easily tell if another animal is inhabiting a territory.

Do Foxes Hunt in Packs?

Foxes may live in family groups, but they will hunt and forage on their own. During hunting time, they will split up and go off by themselves. They will then meet up at their den. 

Foxes mainly prey on small mammals such as mice, voles, moles, shrews, rabbits, birds, and insects. These are all animals a single fox can take down on its own.

Foxes do also typically not share food with each other. This only happens during mating season, when the vixen (female fox) stays at the den to care for the kits.

Red fox sniffing in leaves inside forest in autumn nature

Fox Family

Foxes do not form packs but do live in family groups. A group of foxes is called a skulk. A skulk is usually made up of two to six adults with a single male and a couple of females.

Foxes don’t form packs because they don’t have the same social structure as wolves, coyotes, dogs, etc.

Even though they may live together, they still hunt and forage individually.

The fox family usually consists of one mating pair (a dominant male fox and vixen), with a couple of “helper foxes”. These are usually female foxes that help take care of the kits. Hence, they do exhibit a social hierarchy among their peers.

Foxes are very territorial and will fight other foxes over food or territory if necessary. This means that they do not live in packs for protection; rather, it’s all about getting as many resources as possible before other foxes do.

When foxes are breeding, the male fox will hunt for himself, his mate, and the kits. This only takes place as long as the female, and the kits, are unable to hunt for themselves.

fox mother with her pups

Fox Parents

The basic social unit for foxes is the family group consisting of an adult male and female and the new generation of offspring. The fox parents are the dominant group.

Foxes differ from wolves in this way. Where wolves expand their pack when new pups are born, foxes often split up when their kits grow older.

The breeding pair in the group can both be former mates, who’ve reunited, or they can be new mates.

Enchanting red fox family resting in green summer forest near den

Fox Kits

Fox kits are baby foxes. These are born in the late winter or early spring, between February and April.

The average litter size is 5 kits, but it may vary from 1 to 13 kits. When they’re born, they’ll primarily be taken care of by their mother, who’ll feed them and nurse them.

Once the kits are born, the vixen will stay with them in the den for about two months. The father brings food back to the den for the mother and kits, but he does not stay with them full-time. 

Foxes do not produce a lot of milk, so they also eat solid foods pretty early on – usually when they are about three or four weeks old. [1]

Kits aren’t able to thermoregulate until they’re two weeks old. To keep warm, they huddle up close together in the den.

The kits will start to venture out of the den at around five weeks old and will be fully weaned by eight weeks old. They will stay with their parents until they are about 6 to 12 months old.

red fox cubs sitting by the den

Helper Foxes

There may also be other adult foxes in the fox family. These are considered helper foxes. These are mostly female foxes that are below a year old or not yet sexually mature. 

Helper foxes will help out with babysitting duties and take turns caring for the new litter. They will assist with grooming, playing with the kit foxes, or bringing the new kits food. [2]

fox family

How Many Foxes Are in a Family Group?

A fox family group usually consists of two to six foxes. There’ll be one breeding pair (the dominant male and female), while the rest consists of other adults.

Fox families typically only stay together for a single breeding season.

Why Do Foxes Stay Away From Other Foxes?

Foxes stay away from other foxes because they’re very territorial. They will stay within their own territory, and generally, avoid other foxes.

Stronger and more dominant foxes are more inclined to venture into new territories, and they have a better chance of confronting another fox.

Foxes can use their scent glands and sense of smell to identify whether another fox is more or less dominant than themselves.

Foxes will spread their scents throughout their territory to keep others away. This scent is unique to each fox and works as identification.

Red fox with mouse in mouth on glade in summer sunlight

How Foxes Stay Away From Other Foxes

Foxes know the location of others through scent. They have scent glands all over their bodies. To humans, their scent is very unpleasant, but to other foxes, it works as a unique identifier.

By smelling the scent of other foxes, they know what areas to keep out of.

Foxes partake in scent marking with urine, feces, and scent glands to mark specific areas of their territory so no one else stakes a claim. This is also how foxes avoid unnecessary confrontations. [3]

Conclusion

Foxes are temporarily social animals that form family groups in order to mate and propagate. They may live in a family group, but will still hunt individually.

They are primarily solitary animals that stay within their territory. They tend to stay away from humans, as well as other foxes, as much as possible. 

When the foxes do form family groups, they consist of two or six adult foxes, split into a dominant pair and a number of other females that aren’t sexually mature yet. 

The dominant pair is also the breeding pair, while the other foxes in the group will help take care of the new litter. 

After mating season, when the kits have grown into adult foxes, the family group may split up.

FAQs

Do Arctic Foxes Live and Travel in Packs?

As with most foxes, Arctic foxes live solitary lives and only band together to form family units during mating season. While in the family group, they will scavenge and hunt for food.

Do Red Foxes Live and Travel in Packs?

Red foxes are solitary animals that keep to themselves until they are ready to mate. They will form a small family unit that consists of a dominant pair of a male and a female. This family unit also includes a few non-breeding females that are there to help with the new litter’s upbringing. 

It’s not uncommon to see a few foxes traveling together. This is usually a family unit that is looking to transfer to a new den. It’s uncommon for unrelated adults to form a pack.

Do Fennec Foxes Live and Travel in Packs?

In contrast to other foxes, the fennec foxes can live in groups that consist of up to ten individual foxes. They can even live in interconnected burrows or dens to form a community of multiple family groups.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.