Fun Fox Facts!

Just call him Fantastic Mr Fox! Foxes are amazing animals, but how much do you know about them?

Check out our fox facts below!

What is a fox?

  • Foxes are a type of mammal the size of a large pet cat or a small dog. The red fox is the most common type of fox, but there are about 47 different subspecies of red fox!
  • The type of fox found in the UK is the European fox. These generally have red fur, a white chest and a big bushy tail, known as a brush.
  • Foxes belong to the dog family and use similar facial expressions and body postures to pet dogs, such as wagging their tails when greeting family members.

Where do foxes live?

  • Foxes live in the countryside and now are often seen in towns and cities across the UK.
  • In the countryside, foxes tend to live in underground lairs or dens, sometimes taking over empty tunnels dug by other animals.
  • Foxes have a ‘territory’, an area which they live in and patrol for food. If a fox dies, another fox will often take over the territory within a few days.
  • In towns and cities, foxes will sleep in quiet, private places. Foxes are nocturnal so they tend to keep out of sight during the day, but can sometimes be seen taking a nap in the sun if you’re lucky.

What do foxes eat?

  • Foxes in the UK countryside will eat pretty much anything, including insects, worms and berries. They are carnivores so will eat other animals such as birds and small mammals, and will eat chickens or small pets if they are given the chance.
  • Foxes don't 'kill for fun'. If they find a large supply of food (such as in a chicken coop) they will kill all the animals with the intention of taking away anything they don’t eat to store it for later. This is similar behaviour to other carnivores like lions.
  • In urban areas, they will tend to eat anything they can get, including most things that humans throw away.

Are foxes cunning?

  • Foxes are often described as being ‘cunning’ or ‘wily’, but these are words which are used to try and make foxes look bad.
  • Because foxes will eat animals raised by humans – such as chickens or lambs – humans often see foxes as the enemy. This is why humans have sometimes portrayed foxes as being bad, cunning or ‘mass killers’. But they are none of these things – they are just wild animals!
  • Foxes are recognised as being intelligent. As a species they have survived and adapted for centuries – the reduction of their natural habitat in the countryside has led to the increase of foxes in towns and cities, as they have learned to live and survive in new places.
  • Foxes are often targeted and killed by farmers who claim to want to protect their livestock. Many farmers though live happily alongside foxes by taking sensible precautions to protect their animals, such as fencing.
  • Sheep farmers often blame foxes for the death of lambs, but a study in Scotland suggests that foxes are only responsible for a tiny number (3%) of lamb deaths.

How many foxes are in the UK?

  • It’s not easy to work out how many foxes live in the UK, but the government estimates that there are around 430,000 foxes in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • A study in 2017 suggests that in England, there are around 150,000 urban foxes.
  • Another study reports that between 1995 and 2017, fox numbers in the UK dropped by 41%. This goes against claims made by pro-hunting groups that fox numbers have increased since the ban on fox hunting in 2005.

Do foxes have families?

  • A female fox usually has one litter of cubs a year, with about four or five cubs at a time.
  • Sadly, the majority of cubs will die before they become adult foxes.
  • Male and female foxes mate for life, forming a strong bond. When they have cubs, other foxes, often females and young foxes, will stay with them and help raise the cubs.
  • Foxes have strong family ties. Young foxes often stay with their parents for a few years and help raise future cubs.
  • Foxes have been known to reach nine or ten years old in the wild, but most will die between the ages of one and three.

Do foxes have predators?

  • Adult foxes now only have one predator (animal that kills it) in the UK - humans. In other countries, and in the UK in the past, animals that will kill foxes include bears and wolves.
  • Fox cubs are at risk from predators in the UK, including Golden Eagles and badgers.
  • Most fox cubs die before they become adults, due to various reasons including predators, disease, accidents on roads and human control.
  • Cub hunting’ is an activity that is illegal in the UK but still takes place. Fox hunts need to train their young hounds to chase and kill foxes, so the hunt surrounds a small area where fox cubs are known to live and encourages the dogs to kill the fox cubs. It is estimated that 10,000 fox cubs are killed each year because of cub hunting.

More fox-inating fox facts!

  • Red foxes use 28 different calls or noises to communicate. Some of them are really weird!
  • Foxes aren’t dangerous to humans. Foxes don’t see us or our pet dogs or cats as ‘prey’ so tend to stay away.
  • Media stories sometimes appear about alleged fox attacks, but these are rare and often unproven. By contrast, on average more than 2500 people are hospitalised each year by dog attacks.
  • Famous fictional foxes include Nick Wilde in Zootopia, Fantastic Mr Fox, Robin Hood and Maid Marion in Disney’s Robin Hood, Basil Brush and Tod in the Fox and the Hound.

3 Fox Cubs


Why we need to protect foxes


Fox hunting

Foxes are hunted by packs of fox hounds and people mounted on horses or on foot. This is mostly illegal under the Hunting Act 2004 but unfortunately still continues. Foxes are also killed as cubs as part of ‘cub hunting’, also known as ‘Autumn hunting’ which takes place before the main fox hunting season begins in November.

Foxes are also captured by hunts and kept in ‘artificial earths’ or disused buildings, so they can then be released in front of the hounds during the hunt. This proves that fox hunting is nothing to do with ‘fox control’ or ‘wildlife management’, as the hunts claim, and is purely about providing sport for the hunters.


Sign our petition to stop the killing of foxes by hunts


Snares

Foxes are also caught in snares, which are wire nooses laid in the countryside, often around shooting estates. The aim is to catch foxes so that they don’t kill the grouse, pheasants or partridges on the estates – which will then be killed for sport


What the League is doing to Protect Foxes

  • We investigate reports of illegal hunting, many of which come through our Animal Crimewatch service
  • We film what we believe is illegal hunting and submit evidence to the police
  • We have directly prosecuted fox hunts for illegal hunting, when we believed the authorities would not have done so
  • A League film of Scottish hunts allegedly flushing foxes out of woods ‘to guns’ (which is allowed under the law) – but without a single gun in sight, has led to a review of hunting legislation in Scotland. This in turn played a major role in stopping an attempted repeal of the Hunting Act in England in 2015
  • We have many acres of land which we run as sanctuaries, where we own the ‘sporting rights’ meaning no-one can hunt or shoot on the land. We have many foxes resident in these safe areas
  • We continue to educate the public, farmers and the government about foxes, as these animals are often misunderstood. Some key facts we want people to know are:
    • Rural fox numbers have not increased since the Hunting Ban was introduced
    • By feeding on rabbits, it has been estimated that rural foxes save British crop farmers around £7m per year
    • Research in Scotland has shown that less than 2% of annual lamb losses can be directly attributed to foxes
    • When a fox dies or is killed, another fox will take over its territory, sometimes as soon as within three to four days, meaning that lethal control of foxes is pointless. Non-lethal control methods are more humane, and often more effective

Fox laying on the grass


Humane ways to keep foxes away

Lots of tips from The Fox Project

Fox-a-Gon: In addition to household garden work, Fox-a-Gon are specialists in fox proofing large areas such as schools. 0208 925 9639

Humane Urban Wildlife Deterrence: Small garden service call-outs and offer limited verbal advice. 01732 357355

Foxolutions stock and provide effective deterrents For those who prefer a DIY option. 0208 090 2038

In Scotland, you can contact Humane Wildlife Solutions 07771 361226


How can I help foxes?

  • Contact your MP and ask them to urge their party to keep and strengthen the fox hunting ban
  • Sign our petition to ban snares
  • Join one of our supporter groups to help us raise awareness about fox hunting
  • Download and share our amazing Foxycology infographic packed with fox facts
  • Share this page on your social media

Sign our petition to stop the killing of foxes by hunts