Foxes eat varieties of food since they’re omnivores. They’re also after a wide range of plants like corn, apples, berries, nuts, and seeds.
Of course, they devour meat. You may wonder what they hunt to get the necessary protein.
Do foxes eat deer? Foxes rarely eat deer even though the latter is a prey species. They’re typically after small birds and mammals like mice, rats, and voles. Also, they can have carrion as a meal. Thus, foxes can eat the deer’s dead body, given that there’s no larger animal feasting on it. There are different species of foxes, and their diets may vary as well.
Wolves, coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions are the known predators of deer. When it comes to black bears, prefer feeding on fawns or young deer.
Anyway, this article is not only about the predators of the deer but the diet of foxes.
Table of Contents
What Kinds of Animals Do Foxes Eat?
Foxes typically eat small mammals like rodents and birds. But they can also settle for reptiles, insects, worms, mollusks, crabs, and fungi.
Do Foxes Eat Baby Deer?
On some special occasions, foxes eat baby deer since they’re smaller than adult ones. They do it when wolves and coyotes are not around.
But there’s a low chance of having this circumstance as fawns are always within the herd. They’re protected by their mothers too.
Foxes can have a chance to attack a fawn when it’s left alone. They can chase after it when it’s old enough to run by itself.
What Do Deer Eat?
With a long tongue and narrow snout, a deer can choose specific plant parts. Due to the enzymes produced by extremely active saliva glands, these animals can deactivate tannins from plant compounds.
Tannins can disrupt digestion, so they need to be eliminated. Deer can even eat a certain amount of acorn that can poison a cow because of these enzymes.
In addition, deer don’t have complex digestive tracts like cattle, moose, and elk. Thus, they can easily digest what they forage.
Their diet is composed of varieties of foods such as mushrooms or lichens, grass, leafy parts of a plant, and forbs of agricultural corps or broad-leaf plants. In summer, their soft mast consumption consists of berries, which increases by 11%.
Deer eat hard mast like acorns in fall. In winter, they depend on evergreen leaves and leaf buds. They would love to eat different agricultural crops because they’re not only palatable but easily digested and highly nutritious.
What Do Red Foxes Eat?
Red foxes eat cottontail rabbits, rodents, insects, birds, reptiles, and carrions. They have a habit of storing food, and they have an excellent ability to find caches.
What Do Fennec Foxes Eat?
The primary foods that fennec foxes eat are locusts and grasshoppers. However, they can feed on birds and their eggs, lizards, and small rodents. To fulfill the hydration that they need, they eat fruits, leaves, and roots.
Some fennec foxes are in zoos, and they have meals of meat, mice, insects, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables.
The large ears of the fennec foxes make food hunting effective. Hence, they can even catch animals that are bigger than them, like the full-grown rabbits. They use their ears to listen to movements that occur underground.
Once they hear something, they will dig using their feet, so they can find their meal.
What Do Kit Foxes Eat?
Kit foxes mainly eat rabbits and rodents. However, the diet varies depending on the region as some kit foxes prey on cottontail rabbits, black-tailed jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, and prairie dogs.
These several preys prove that they’re predominantly carnivores, but they can opt for plants when the primary food supply is scarce.
These foxes can eat cactus fruit, tomatoes, and other types of plants. They also turn into scavengers as they also search for carrion.
Moreover, they find ground-dwelling birds, large insects, lizards, and snakes appetizing. This fox species may compete with a coyote for food and den.
What Do Arctic Foxes Eat?
Since arctic foxes are opportunistic predators, they can eat almost every animal which is alive or dead. But they have a great liking for small animals. They also feed on berries, insects, carrion, and even stool of humans or other animals.
When winter comes, arctic foxes eat marine mammals, fish, seals, sea birds, and invertebrates. Those who reside in the inland areas feed on lemmings during summer.
When there’s a lot of food supply in summer, they collect and bring some to their dens for future use. The food is usually hidden under the stones.
Are Deer Afraid of Foxes?
Deer are not afraid of foxes. There’s even a photo of a mule deer licking an island fox taken by Chris Lowe of California State University Shark Lab. The fox is docile and appears to be enjoying the act of the antler.
This happened in the southern California Island called Santa Catalina. Island foxes are the smaller descendants of gray foxes.
Is a Fox Considered a Scavenger?
A fox is considered a scavenger as it doesn’t only eat carrion but human resources or food waste and agricultural products.
How Do Foxes Sense Dead Deer?
Some odors affect the behavior of animals, including foxes. These odorous compounds have interspecific effects on those that can benefit from them.
They are referred to as semiochemicals which are divided into two groups called pheromones and allelochemicals.
Allelochemicals are the reason why foxes can sense dead deer. They’re also divided into two groups which are allomones and kairomones. The latter has many uses, and one of them is foraging.
Valence, a behavioral reaction to odors, is connected with it. It’s not a fixed response since the animal can detect any beneficial odor, which is motivation.
The valence of foxes of dead deer is innate as they can recognize something like food. Foxes are not only attracted to dead deer. They’re also drawn to dead possums and other animals as they identify them as their meal.
Apart from the enjoyment of eating dead deer or other animals, biologists hypothesize why foxes do scent rolling on dead bodies of other animals. There may be several reasons behind this action.
Foxes may do it to cover their scent from their prey. Thus, catching their meals will be easy in this way. But then, other animals may be alarmed by the dead body scent.
Other foxes can take it as a warning when smelling the dead body on a fox. Scientists also hypothesize that it’s their way to show off their prowess in prey hunting to their mates.
Another reason is that they used to mark their territory. Foxes may also wear it like how humans spray on perfume to stand out among others.
What Animals Eat Foxes?
Various fox species, as mentioned, have different kinds of diets depending on their location. Also, different predators are after them. For instance, the main predator of fennec foxes is an eagle owl.
Larger mammals like caracals, hyenas, and jackals can also prey on these cute foxes.
In the case of kit foxes, they’re attacked by American badgers, bobcats, feral dogs, large raptors, and even red foxes.
Moreover, the predators of arctic foxes are Arctic wolves, golden eagles, grizzly bears, polar bears, red foxes, and wolverines.
Only the young red foxes are preyed on, but they’re inside the dens to be kept away from harm. Some predators like coyotes and wolves can attack adult red foxes, but it’s not for the reason of meat consumption.
Related: What Eats a Fox? | 9 Fox Predators
How to Get Rid of Foxes?
Most foxes have adapted to be around humans. Thus, here are some ways to get rid of them:
- When you see a fox, you can throw some stones or tennis balls to shoo it away.
- Foxes leave their dens in fall, and if they made one on your property. If it’s the case, you’ll have to cover possible entrances so they can’t come back and stay in your area.
- Although it’s a temporary solution, you can frighten foxes with flashing lights, timed tape recording, or radio. As they continue to hear and see these things, they get accustomed to them over time. You can check deterrent lights from Mopet Marketplace, PREDATORGUARD, and Triumpeek, as these are trusted brands.
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Despite the knowledge that deer are prey, foxes don’t see them as a primary food source. It can be a matter of size as an adult deer is way bigger than a mature fox. Foxes only attempt to lure fawns or young deer.
But even this action rarely happens as they prefer small mammals and some plants.
List of Sources
What do Deer Eat? Mississippi State University.
Fox, D. L. (2007). Vulpes vulpes. Animal Diversity Web.
Patton, A. (2008). Vulpes macrotis. Animal Diversity Web.
Dewey, T., Middlebrook, C. (2007). Vulpes lagopus. Animal Diversity Web.
Osborn, D. A., McConnell, M. D. (2016). The Impact of Predators on Deer in the Southeast. University of Georgia.