Why would a male red fox make a loud, high-pitched scream that sounds like a woman’s scream? Let’s find out! (And check out the popular video below for the song by Ylvis: ‘What Does the Fox Say?’)
What Sounds Does a Fox Make?
Red Fox Sounds
The red fox is the most common fox species and is found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Red foxes are known for their distinctive barks, which are often used to communicate with other foxes. Other sounds that red foxes make include:
- Howls: These are long, drawn-out vocalizations that are often used to mark territory or attract mates.
- Screams: Male red foxes make a loud, high-pitched scream that sounds like a woman’s scream. This is often used to warn off competing males.
- Contact Calls: These are short, sharp barks that foxes use to communicate with each other over short distances.
- Alarm Calls: These are loud, high-pitched barks that foxes use to warn others of danger.
Gray Fox Sounds
Gray foxes are found throughout North and Central America and are known for their dog-like appearance and behavior. Gray foxes make a variety of sounds, including:
- Barks: These are short, sharp barks that are often used for self-defense.
- Gekkering: This is a series of high-pitched, bird-like sounds that gray foxes make when they are excited or playful.
Arctic Fox Sounds
Arctic foxes are found in the Arctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. These foxes are known for their thick, white fur and their ability to survive in extreme cold temperatures. Arctic foxes make a variety of sounds, including:
- Howls: These are long, drawn-out vocalizations that are often used to communicate with other foxes over long distances.
- Squeals: These are high-pitched vocalizations that are often used to attract mates or signal distress.
Kit Fox Sounds
Kit foxes are found in the southwestern United States and Mexico and are known for their small size and distinctive appearance. Kit foxes make a variety of sounds, including:
- Wow Wow Wow: This is a series of short, sharp barks that kit foxes use to communicate with each other.
- Squeals: These are high-pitched vocalizations that are often used to signal distress or attract mates.
Fox Vocalizations and Communication
In this section, we will explore the different types of vocalizations and communication methods used by foxes.
Foxes make a range of sounds, including barks, screeches, yelps, squeals, howls, and rattling or chattering sounds. These sounds are similar to those made by dogs, as foxes and dogs belong to the same family, Canidae.
Foxes also make unique sounds while mating or playing with other foxes. Here are some examples of fox vocalizations and their meanings:
- Barks: Used to warn other foxes of danger or to communicate with other members of their family group.
- Screeches: Used to express fear or pain.
- Howls: Used to communicate over long distances and to attract mates.
- Squeals: Used by young foxes to communicate with their mother and siblings.
- Rattling or chattering sounds: Used when foxes are excited or agitated.
Foxes use a variety of body gestures to communicate with each other. These gestures include ear movements, tail movements, and body postures.
Here are some examples of fox communication methods and their meanings:
- Ear movements: Foxes use their ears to communicate their mood. When they are relaxed, their ears are in a neutral position. When they are alert, their ears are upright and forward-facing. When they are scared or aggressive, their ears are flattened against their head.
- Tail movements: Foxes use their tails to communicate their mood and intentions. When they are relaxed, their tail is held low. When they are alert, their tail is held high. When they are scared or aggressive, their tail is held straight out behind them.
- Body postures: Foxes use their body posture to communicate their mood and intentions. When they are relaxed, their body is loose and their head is held high. When they are alert, their body is tense and their head is held low. When they are scared or aggressive, their body is stiff and their head is held low.
Foxes and Other Animals
Wolves and Coyotes
Wolves and coyotes are both members of the Canidae family, just like foxes. Wolves are known for their howling, which is often used to communicate with other members of their pack.
Coyotes, on the other hand, have a more varied vocal repertoire, including barks, howls, and yips.
Foxes, wolves, and coyotes all share some similarities in their vocalizations, but they each have their own unique sounds.
Fox Habits and Behavior
Foxes are primarily nocturnal animals, but over time, they have become crepuscular, going out in the daytime and twilight hours. Foxes are also known for their hunting skills, as they primarily sleep during the day and hunt at night.
The breeding season for foxes typically begins in December and lasts until February. During this time, foxes become more vocal, and males will often mark their territory to attract females.
Once a pair has formed, they will mate, and the female will give birth to kits in March or April.
Adults and Kits
Adult foxes are solitary animals that typically live in dens. They are known for their cunning behavior and are excellent hunters.
Kits, on the other hand, are born blind and helpless and rely on their mother for food and protection. As they grow, they become more independent and will eventually leave the den to hunt on their own.
Vixens and Male Foxes
Vixens, or female foxes, are responsible for raising the kits and teaching them how to hunt. They are also known for their unique vocalizations, including barks, squeals, and howls.
Male foxes, on the other hand, are responsible for marking their territory and protecting the den from predators.
Famous Fox Sounds
Fox sounds have been featured in songs, movies, and even viral videos. Here’s one of the most famous (not real fox sounds, but it makes for a nice song):
Ylvis’ ‘What Does the Fox Say?’
In 2013, Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis released a song titled “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” that quickly went viral. The song features various fox sounds and poses the question of what a fox actually says.
While the sounds featured in the song are not entirely accurate, it has become a cultural phenomenon and has been viewed over 1 billion times on YouTube.
The song has also spawned numerous parodies and remixes, further cementing the idea of fox sounds as a popular cultural reference.
Although the sounds featured in the song might come as a surprise to foxes themselves, as we have seen, it is true that foxes make a variety of sounds including barks, screams, howls, and growls.
So Now We Know What the Fox Says!
Foxes communicate through barking, screeching, yelps, squeals, howls, and rattling or chattering sounds. From huffing and coughing noises to short clucks and barks, foxes have a diverse vocal repertoire that can be heard in many parts of the northern hemisphere, including Europe and Norway.
Red foxes, in particular, are known for their piercing screams that can sound like a woman’s scream, which they use to warn off competing mates. Female red foxes, on the other hand, emit short, shrill shrieks to attract males. Gray foxes make dog-like barking noises, which they use for self-defense.
Scientists have identified at least 20 different sounds, with adult foxes producing up to 12 different sounds and kits around eight sounds.