15. Fox Talk

red fox cub kit pup scared angry aggressive submissive dominant fear behaviourJust 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!.’
2. Vocalizations
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..

young fox submissive dominance behaviour communication body language
Submissive young fox (low posture, arched back, pulled back ears)
fox cub kit submission helper female dominant interaction relation
Fox cub / kit showing submissive behaviour towards elder sister / helper
fox cub kit playfighting playing competing siblings
Two fox cubs / kits measuring forces by pushing against each others flanks. (playfighting)
scent marking defecation urinating
Scentmarking red fox
submissive behaviour red fox young cub dominance vulpes vulpes
Submissive young fox
nipping begging food mother cub young red fox kit
Young fox begging for food by nipping at his mothers mouth.
red fox fight fighting ears mouth foxtrot agressive dominance submission territory
A fox fight: the ears flattened against the skull and the wide open mouths show this is serious

14 thoughts on “15. Fox Talk

  1. They’re so cute…. so beautiful….

    Thank you for providing us with such awesome photos and articles, which are very informative and easy to understand.

    I did not see the fox for the amazing animal it is before I stumbled upon your gallery. It’s shameful to say that I viewed them as being some weird, ugly creatures….and now I can’t get enough of them, all thanks to you 😀

    Keep the photos coming ^^

  2. Very nice blog and photographs are great – it’s my dream to get a good shot of a fox – hopefully one day! Where do you live, which Country, and how do you find your subjects?
    Thanks agains for sharing such wonderful images

  3. * big eyes * roeselien, you have captured the treasures of fox nation through these detailed stories and to-die-for photos! it’s as if you were a red fox yourself in your past life :-)))

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