What Eats Foxes? the Fast List of a Fox’s Natural Predators


Foxes have adapted so well, through the ages, so much so that they can now live among humans relatively safely. Even in the wild, Foxes are generally not hunted by that many predators, fox numbers are usually kept in check simply by the amount of food there are available.

But Foxes do have predators. So here, we’re going to explore a few of those natural predators. But first, here’s a quick list to get you started, then we’ll dive into a bit more detail.

What Eats a Fox? A Fox is hunted and eaten by a number of Canid Apex Predators like Wolves, as well as Bears, Badgers, Eagles, Owls, and even Humans. This largely depends on which continent they live on. Why and when they are hunted varies depending on the type and needs of the predator.

What eats Foxes quick reference list

  • Wolves
  • Lynx
  • Coyotes
  • Jackals
  • Wild Dogs
  • Eagles
  • Red tailed Hawks
  • Owls
  • Bears
  • Badgers
  • Wolverines
  • Moun tain Lions
  • Leopards
  • Bobcats
  • Other Foxes
  • Humans

Let’s take a dive a bit deeper into the subject and check out a Fox’s most prominent adversaries!

A Fox is almost always viewed upon as a clever, smart and witty animal. ‘As Cunning as a Fox’ is probably a phrase we’ve all heard. So foxes are seen as able to trick their way through life. That’s not to say they get it easy! Some of the environments they live in can be inhospitable for creatures who are still fairly small in relation to other mammals.

Foxes are an ideally designed specimen for doing what they do and surviving. At between 7-15kg, their build is adapted for both urban and wild terrain, their diet is varied, they have excellent hunting abilities and they can be fast and agile. For this reason, you’ll find Foxes on every continent, covering most of the globe.

Because they cover much of the planet, there is always a slight variation in the kind of creatures that hunt them or would predate them. So let’s go through those creatures that would eat a fox, along with a breakdown of predominantly where they live.

Wolves

Geography/Location: North America, Europe, Asia

In all the Canidae family, the Apex predator is the Wolf, but wolves do not reside everywhere, they live mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, and mostly in North America, Asia and in some parts of Europe – particularly Eastern Europe.

Wolves are indeed the world’s biggest and most powerful canids, the ultimate apex predators of the Northern Hemisphere. Wolves hunt in packs and are largely known to go for larger prey. But if food sources are more scarce then they will hunt for a fox if one or more cross their path.

wolves eat foxes
wolves eat foxes

Lynxes

Geography/Location: North America, Asia

Lynxes, including the Bobcat Lync, Canada Lynx, and Eurasian Lynx and Iberian Lynx are generally in decline. But being a larger cat size they’re more than equipped to hunt Foxes if they so wished. A Fox would be no match for a Lynx except to potentially outrun – or ‘Outfox’ the Lynx.

These two species are likely to come into contact due to some overlaps in their dietary and hunting areas. They hunt the same prey and if food is scarce they may come in contact with each other.

Lynx Eat Foxes
Lynx Eat Foxes

Coyotes, Jackals, Wild Dogs

Geography/Location: North America, Asia

Because they share the same prey and diet as Foxes, it’s not unheard of that in North America Coyotes and the golden Jackals of Eurasia often fight with Foxes, particularly if food sources are scarce.

The resulting law of competitive exclusion, which dictates there will be a decline or extinction of one species where two species compete for the same food source – would appear to indicate that Coyotes and Jackals are fairing less well than the Fox in survival terms.

jackals eat foxes
jackals eat foxes

Birds of Prey

Geography/Location: Global

Large Raptor birds like Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks are known for preying on mammals, they also have the added advantage of attacking from above, which is something Foxes will rarely be able to anticipate, or do much about.

Large Eagles exist throughout most continents, such as African Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Harpy Eagle or of course the Golden Eagle. These birds are large enough to even carry away adult Foxes. 

In fact, even some smaller Birds of prey like hawks and Falcons could carry away baby or potentially young foxes without too much difficulty.

eagles eat foxes
eagles eat foxes

Owls

Geography/Location: North America

The largest Owl is the Great Horned Owl, standing around 2 feet tall with a 5feet wingspan, the Horned Owl is largely nocturnal inhabit, and therefore hunts during the night. Around the same time that foxes do.

The Great Horned Owl has a diet of up to 87.6% mammals in North America, and a Fox is firmly on that list. With larger prey often being broken up and taken back to the nest. With a silent approach, Owls attack often by landing near prey and ambushing them in quick succession, but sometimes they will attack on the wing.

owls eat foxes
owls eat foxes

Bears

Geography/Location: North America, Asia

If a Black Bear or a Brown Bear is able to get close to a Fox or take it by surprise then it will eat it. Foxes are no match for their size, strength, and armament. These largest predators of North America will mostly scare foxes away from any competing food source. If they happen upon a Fox Set, then there could be a slaughter.

bears eat foxes
bears eat foxes

Badgers

Geography/Location: Global

Badgers from North America, Europe, and Asia are all very similar in that while they are predominantly carnivores, they will eat just about anything, they have a wide diet and this is often where they will compete with Foxes. However, for the most part, Foxes and Badgers coexist very well in the same habitats. If threatened or under certain circumstances though, a Badger will aggressively charge a Fox

badgers eat foxes
badgers eat foxes

Wolverines

Geography/Location: Northern Canada, Northern Asia, Northern Europe, Subarctic

Wolverines are said to be more closely related to bears in both appearance and behavior and will often take on a defeat a predator greater in size to themselves. Whilst not fast animals, if they come across an Arctic Fox – or other Fox they will look to kill it.

wolverines eat Foxes
wolverines eat Foxes

Humans (Global)

The greatest threat to the Fox Population, and yet the greatest aid to Fox populations is that of Humans. Hunting which was introduced to reduce the threat to livestock and also hunting for sporting purposes has seriously reduced the Fox population in many parts of the world, most notably in Western Europe. 

They have also been subjected to projects to cull the population in order to reduce pest spreading capabilities and to maintain habitats.

However, where Foxes have integrated into Human society in urban areas they have not only survived but thrived.

Other Foxes (Global)

During early life as a cub, there are additional dangers to face. In a world dominated by the survival of the fittest, it’s not unheard of for Cubs to fight Cubs in establishing their dominance and by way of preying on the weakest. Within the first four weeks from birth, around 20-25% of Cubs will succumb to brutal treatment at the hands of their siblings.

So it becomes deadly important that Cubs get the food first and grow the fastest! Where a cub dies through bullying, it will always serve as a source of food for the other cubs.

Do Fox predators impact Fox populations?

Fair to say Foxes have been around thousands of years, they’ve evolved and adapted into efficient survival machines. None of the animals that prey on Foxes have had any marked effect on their ability to maintain or grow in number. 

Future for Foxes

Having lasted this length of time, alongside all their predators and humans too. They’ve adapted and evolved to thrive in almost every part of the northern hemisphere. There’s no reason why they will not continue to thrive in the future.

Resources

Learn more in the classroom or at home about the wonderful world of Foxes with this book

Exploring The World of Foxes

To finish

We hope this has been useful for you in understanding what animals and Birds prey on Foxes. Would really like to hear your comments below, so let us know of any additions or changes we can add to this list. Here’s that quick list again for convenience…

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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