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Fox Predators: What Eats Foxes? (15 Natural Enemies)

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Fox predators include wolves, bears, eagles, and snakes. Foxes are medium-sized animals as adults and can be eaten by larger predators. Fox cubs are also hunted by birds of prey. Foxes do not live in packs, so they are easy targets for predators.

Foxes are predators, and many people think that predators aren’t hunted by other animals. 

But that is not true. Foxes also have their natural predators.

There are 23 species of foxes, and depending on where they live, they may or may not have natural predators. 

Among the most common predators that eat foxes are wolves, bears, bobcats, coyotes, and eagles.

In this article, you will learn what animals foxes eat, how foxes defend themselves from predators, and much more.

What Eats Foxes?     

Some mammals, birds, and reptiles eat foxes. The most common fox predators include wolves, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, eagles, and jackals.

There are 23 species of foxes, and most of them live in forested areas. But you can also find them in plains, mountains, and deserts.

The natural predators of foxes depend on the fox’s habitat and species:

  • The most common animals that prey on red foxes are bears, mountain lions, wolves, eagles, or pythons. 
  • The main predators of Fennec foxes are Verreaux’s eagle-owl and jackals. 
  • Polar foxes are eaten by animals like golden eagles, polar bears, and red foxes.

For example, a polar bear could never eat a Fennec fox because both species live in completely different regions.

Predators aid in keeping the fox population in check. But some foxes don’t have natural predators. 

What Eats Fox

This doesn’t mean they will multiply excessively. Their population numbers are naturally controlled by the food availability and their habitat.

Foxes dig burrows in the ground to make a home where they will store food, raise young, and protect themselves from predators. 

If they are injured, sick, or far from their den, they are at risk of being eaten.

Many types of animals eat foxes:

  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Reptiles
Predator FamilySpecies
MammalsWolves, bears, mountain lions, coyotes, lynxes, bobcats, wolverines, foxes, leopards, badgers, and humans
ReptilesSnakes – boa constrictors and pythons.
BirdsEagles and owls.

What Mammals Eat Foxes?

Most mammals that feed on foxes are as big as or bigger than them. The most common mammals that eat foxes are bears, wolves, and coyotes.

Here is a list of mammals that feed on foxes:

  • Wolves
  • Bears
  • Mountain lions
  • Coyotes
  • Lynxes
  • Bobcats
  • Wolverines
  • Foxes
  • Leopards
  • Badgers
  • Humans

Wolves

wolves in large pack

Wolves and foxes are related, as they are part of the same family (Canidae).

Wolves are carnivores and feed mainly on large mammals, such as deer and elk. If they can’t find any of their regular prey, wolves can eat foxes.

Bears

angry bears

Although bears’ diet consists of 85% plants[1], they are opportunistic omnivorous animals, so they also eat meat. 

Bears start eating a lot of food in the fall before entering hibernation. During this period, they feed on fatty fish, foxes, other small mammals, insects, grass, and fruits. 

They can gain three pounds of weight every day during hibernation preparation.[2]

Related: Do Bears Eat Foxes?

Mountain Lions

Mountain Lions

Mountain lions live in North and South America and Canada. They are carnivores, ambushing their prey with speed and agility. 

Mountain lions attack and eat almost any prey they encounter, including foxes. 

When mountain lions meet a fox, it jumps on the fox and bites its neck, breaking it.[3]

Coyotes

coyote in canada

Coyotes are related to foxes and wolves as they are part of the same family. 

Coyotes and foxes feed on almost the same animals. Coyotes kill foxes to prevent them eating their food[4]. They are foxes’ greatest enemy.

Occasionally, coyotes also eat young small-sized foxes.

Related: Fox vs. Coyote Differences

Lynxes

Lynxes

The Eurasian lynx has been documented to have a taste for foxes. These big cats follow foxes into soft, powdery snow, where they then get stuck.

When the fox is stuck, the lynx attacks with speed.

The Eurasian lynx usually feeds on deer, goats, and moose.

Bobcats

bobcats at night

Bobcats are carnivorous animals that usually prey on small mammals like rodents, squirrels, and rabbits. 

They can also eat foxes, raccoons, and some species of birds. 

These mammals consume approximately three pounds of meat per day, about as much as a small fox.

Wolverines

Wolverines

Wolverines satisfy their voracious appetite by killing large prey (such as deer) or smaller prey (such as foxes).

They don’t always consume the prey they kill, hunting for sports. Sometimes they will injure an animal and let it bleed to death.

Foxes

Types of Foxes

Although rare, foxes do sometimes eat other foxes. They rarely attack other foxes of the same species, but target other species and they’re young. 

Red foxes are known for sometimes attacking and eating arctic foxes.[5]

On rare occasions, foxes hunt and eat their own kind, or even other foxes’ young when they are starving.

Leopards

Leopard

Leopards are carnivorous animals that feed mainly on deer, bucks, wild boars, and rodents. They occasionally feed on foxes when they want a quick meal. 

Like mountain lions, leopards pounce on the fox, breaking its neck with a powerful bite.

Badgers

Badger

Badgers are omnivores. Almost 80% of their diet consists of earthworms, but they do occasionally eat fox kits. They can’t take down adult foxes though.

Although some badgers eat fox kits, these two animals can coexist. 

Foxes are lazy diggers, and some individuals prefer to steal or share a den with badgers, raising their young there.[6]

Humans

Humans hunting foxes

One of the main threats to foxes is humans. Humans hunt foxes for their fur and meat and destroy foxes’ habitats with urban expansion. 

It is said that fox meat is lean and a bit hard to chew if it’s cooked improperly. Fox meat does not pose a particular health risk as long as you handle and cook it correctly.[7]

What Reptiles Eat Foxes?

Only a few reptiles eat foxes because of their large size. Two snake species that eat foxes are boas constrictor and pythons.

Boas Constrictor

Boas are carnivores that feed on other animals depending on their size.

Small boas feed on amphibians and birds, while large boas attack and eat large mammals, including crocodiles, felines, and foxes.

It was thought that boa constrictors kill their prey by suffocation, but researchers have discovered that they actually kill it by stopping the blood flow.[8]

Pythons

Pythons

Pythons are among the largest snakes in the world, reaching up to 33 feet in length and 250 pounds of body weight.

Like boa constrictors, they are non-venomous, killing their prey by constriction.

Depending on their size, pythons feed on different animals. They can feed on rodents, lizards, birds, foxes, monkeys, antelopes, and more.

What Birds Eat Foxes?

The most common birds of prey that eat foxes are owls and eagles. They prefer small foxes or their young, as adult foxes are too heavy to carry in flight.

Eagles

There are many eagle species, but all are carnivores. Some species actively hunt, while others are scavengers, feeding on dead animals.

Eagles primarily hunt and eat fox cubs and young adults as adults are too heavy. But if they get an opportunity, they will attack adult foxes as well. They choose to target smaller foxes as they are easier to kill and carry.

After killing its prey, the eagle takes pieces of it back to the nest to feed its chicks.

Owls

barred owl flying and hunting

Large owl species such as the Great horned owl and eagle owls attack and eat foxes. 

Great horned owls eat practically anything that moves or stands still, sometimes feeding on carrion.

Besides foxes, they also eat snakes, bobcats, swans, and skunks. Fox kits are the easiest to hunt, because they usually stay at the den’s entrance. Owls will also attack adult foxes if they have the opportunity.

Owls attack their prey quickly, striking and grabbing it with their sharp claws. 

If it is smaller prey, the owls swallow them whole. If the prey is too big to carry in flight, they tear the meat into pieces with their sharp beaks.

How Do Foxes Defend Themselves From Predators?

Foxes defend themselves by fleeing. They rarely attack and scream loudly to scare off predators. If a female fox feels that her kits are threatened, she will attack.

Most animals avoid predators. It’s their survival instinct. Some camouflage themselves, while others fight fiercely or choose to run away.

Foxes also have this instinct, as they mostly run away from danger rather than venture into a fight.

All foxes have sharp teeth and claws that they use to kill and tear their prey apart. But they are also useful in fighting against predators.

Some foxes, such as gray foxes, use the scent left by mountain lions and cougars to camouflage themselves and avoid predators. They rub against the scent trails to take on their scent.

Gray foxes and red foxes also climb trees to avoid predators.

FAQs

What Is the Major Threat to Foxes?

The biggest threat to foxes is humans. They destroy the foxes’ natural habitat, leaving them exposed to predators. In addition to habitat destruction, people also kill foxes for their fur and meat.

Are Foxes Apex Predators?

Some fox species are apex predators if they live in areas without natural predators. Foxes are skilled and specialized hunters but they also eat carrion and garbage.

What Eats Red Foxes?

Brown bears, wolves, and coyotes eat red foxes. Coyotes are the greatest natural enemy of foxes because they hunt foxes to eat them and to get rid of competition.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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