Foxes can make more than 20 different sounds. Adult foxes usually make up to 12 different sounds and kits around eight sounds. Foxes communicate through barking, screeching, yelps, squeals, howls, and rattling or chattering sounds.
Foxes are close relatives of dogs as they belong to the same family, Canidae. As a result, the sounds of these two species are similar: both bark, screech, howl, and growl.
The most commonly heard red fox vocalizations are a rapid series of barks and scream-like sounds.
In this article, you will learn what sounds foxes make, how they communicate with these sounds, and much more.
What Do Foxes Sound Like?
Foxes’ vocalizations are described as a screaming woman. This is one of their loudest sounds, the scream. They also sound like dogs when barking, like wolves when howling, or like cats when purring.
Foxes are not particularly quiet animals but aren’t so loud either. They typically use other ways of communication, despite the variety of sounds that they can make.
For example, they change their body position and the positioning of their ears and tail when they sense danger, or howl and bark when they feel threatened.
Many describe the sounds of foxes as a scream. More specifically, the scream of a woman. These sounds make many people scared, especially if they are heard at night.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the most widespread species of fox in the world, has over 20 characteristic sounds.
Among the most common sounds foxes make are:
- High-pitched howls
- Raspy barks
- “Wow wow wow” sounds – they are similar to a hooting owl.
- Gekkering sounds – rattling or chattering sounds.
- Purring sounds
The 7 Most Common Fox Sounds
Foxes make the following sounds: barks, squeals, shrill screams, howls, and chatter sounds. Many times people associate the scream of a fox with a baby crying and the scream of a male red fox with a screaming woman. Foxes have a high voice.
Foxes use sounds to find mating partners, in interactions with predators or competitors, or to communicate within the family group. They also make sounds when they are foraging and digging for food.
Foxes can also recognize each other by their voice.
They are typically shy creatures and stay away from other animals (except prey) and humans. But they do make sounds when they need to.
Their primary uses of vocalizations are as follows:
- Protect their territory.
- Find a mating partner.
- They also use certain sounds:
- In a fight.
- When they are relaxed.
- When they are excited.
1. Foxes Scream to Protect Their Territory
When threatened, foxes scream loudly to drive predators away. They communicate to predators or other foxes that they have overstepped.
Foxes are extremely territorial animals and will attack if the sounds they make are not enough to scare opponents away.
Here are the most common predators of foxes:
2. Foxes Howl to Find a Mating Partner
When mating season comes, the sounds foxes make can boil your blood. Foxes mate in winter:
- January in the Northern Hemisphere
- June in the Southern Hemisphere.
You will hear these scary high-pitched sounds more often around these months.
Male foxes howl loudly and sharply to find a partner. A sound that resembles a woman’s scream.
On the other hand, the sounds females make during this period are compared to a crying baby. It is known as “the vixen call” or “vixen’s screams”.
The female fox sets the tone. She will howl, and the male will respond with a bark. Foxes also make sounds when mating to keep other foxes at a distance.
3. Foxes Bark To Communicate
Foxes use a raspy bark when they play or when they want to scare predators. They can also distinguish between other foxes with this sound.
This way, they can easily tell who is in their family group and who are outsiders.
This raspy barking can repeat every 3-10 seconds.
4. Foxes Make A “Wow Wow Wow” Sound To Communicate
The sounds foxes make resemble those made by many other animals, including owls. They make a “wow wow wow” when they greet each other. A sound that is usually compared to a hooting owl or a barking dog.
5. Foxes Rattle or Chatter in a Fight
When two foxes are fighting, they make a sound called gekkering. This sound resembles a rattle or chatter. It is a combination of low screams and howls.
When foxes fight, they stand on their hind legs and push each other with their front paws. Their ears are straight, whiskers raised, and they scream or rattle at each other.
When the fight is over, and dominance is shown, the submissive fox falls to the ground with its belly up.
This sound is useful as foxes don’t always want to fight physically to establish their place in the group. Using sound makes it less violent, and no one gets hurt.
Fox cubs also make this sound when they play.
6. Foxes Purr When Relaxed
Foxes can purr like cats. They emit these vibrations for the same reasons as cats:
- When they are relaxed and content
- To communicate
- To soothe themselves
- To heal faster
Female foxes often purr when their fox kits are cuddling with them. They do this to calm their kits and keep them relaxed.
Fox kits whimper when they want food or warmth from their mother.
7. Foxes Squeal When Excited
Foxes make a sound similar to laughter when they are excited. You will most likely hear this pseudo laugh from foxes kept as pets as it is difficult to pick it up in the wild.
Why Do Foxes Scream at Night?
Foxes scream at night when they are mating. Foxes mate for three months during the winter, and while mating takes place, the male and female both scream. They also scream to mark their territory and keep predators and other foxes at bay.
Foxes scream at night for several reasons, the most common being that they are mating.
The screams of a fox can also mean that they are marking their territory. They scream to show their dominance to other foxes.
They also scream to scare away predators and other foxes.
The scream of a fox resembles a crying baby or a screaming woman.
Why Don’t You Hear Foxes Screaming During the Day?
You won’t hear foxes screaming during the day because they are nocturnal. Foxes are generally active at night and sleep during the day. They are not strictly nocturnal and can change their wake-sleep cycle depending on the environment in which they live.
It is said that foxes are nocturnal animals, but they are more accurately crepuscular. Their highest level of activity is after sunset and before sunrise.
Foxes hunt, search for food, look for partners for mating, and take care of young, at night, not during the day. Therefore, most of the sounds foxes make are at night, when they are in full activity.
Foxes do not make great pets as they are noisy at night, among other things.
Do Foxes Bark?
Yes, foxes do bark. Their barking is higher pitched than dogs. Foxes bark when they communicate with each other and sometimes when mating. They also scream, howl, purr, and squeak.
Do Foxes Growl?
Yes, foxes can also growl. Their growling is similar to dogs, and they do it for the same reasons: to keep predators at bay when they feel threatened. Foxes growl while adopting a defensive posture.
What Does a Baby Fox Sound Like?
Baby foxes can make up to eight sounds, the most common being crying. Fox kits also rattle or chatter when they play.
What Does a Gray Fox Sound Like?
Gray foxes do not make many sounds. They are often quiet. However, during the mating season, they make a series of noises including sharp barks and yipping sounds to attract their partners. Besides these sounds, gray foxes can also growl, squeal, screech, snarl, and chuckle.