Just like you won’t understand a word, visiting a foreign country for the first time, it will take quite some time to master fox language.
But the longer your stay in Fox Nation, the more you will understand their conversations.
Of course you will never learn to speak flawless Fox, but understanding it will become increasingly easier.
At a certain point you just recognize that happy tail waggle, fearful grin or defiant attitude and more and more fox secrets will be revealed gradually .
Briefly said, foxes communicate in three different ways: by scentmarking, vocalizations and body language.
1. Scent marking
Foxes can’t build fences, barbed wire or warning signs.
But by scent-marking (defecating, urinating) they spread more or less the same message: ‘This is me and this is my territory. Cute girls are very welcome, potential competitors certainly are not!.’
There are said to be as much as 28 different sounds in a fox repertoire, like barking, yelling, murmuring, shrieking and whining up. Some are used in a more personal contact (like between mother and cub) and others for distant calls (like warning potential candidates / intruders during the mating season).
Because sounds say more than a 1000 words, check this link.
3. Body Language
Words can say a lot, but unlike these words, body language never lies.
Through ears, tail, facial expression and posture, a fox very clearly shows his intentions.
While a wild swinging tail is an obvious sign of threat, a cheerful waggling tail indicates enthusiasm.
A horizontal positioned tail, with the tip raised tells this fox is in for some sweet fox loving.
Ears turned outwardly/backwardly mean playtime, while ears turned backwardly against the skull are the sign for a less friendly game.
Maybe the subtle difference can be confusing for humans, but this body language speaks volumes to another fox: ‘I’m not amused and prepared for a fierce confrontation.‘
Cubs have to practice this language,too and extensively play fight in order to learn.
With erect ears, tail up and stiff legged walking they show dominance.
By crouching with the tail low to the ground and mouth agape they express submission.
Foxes, being wise animals, preferably avoid bloodshed.
So, if f the opponent is not too impressive, measuring forces by pushing against each others flanks might be sufficient.
If the conflict can’t be solved this way, coarser artillery will be deployed.
By standing on their hind legs, with open mouths and forelegs on the opponents shoulders, the foxes will try to overrule the enemy.
This fox ‘dance’ is also known as the fox trot. More about this in one of my next posts..