Something is endearing about foxes. Not only are they incredibly smart, but they also possess a certain elegance to their every pounce. They’re also quite playful, and that’s one of the reasons why people find them charming.
Foxes make a variety of noises, which can range from barks, howls, hoots, purrs, and high-pitched screams. By identifying these various sounds, you can easily tell if they’re being playful or feeling threatened.
This article will lay out everything we know about their sounds and will act as a guide to what each sound means.
Table of Contents
Do Foxes Make Noise?
Foxes make noise. And not just any noise – they produce different sounds to communicate. Whether it’s playing with other foxes, attracting a mate, warning predators to stay away, or simply because they’re relaxed, there’s no doubt that foxes are among the most vocal animals out there.
What Is the Real Noise of a Fox?
The real noise of a fox consists of a variety of sounds, including high-pitched screams, squeals, barks, whimpers, and yelps, to name a few. Interestingly, these vocalizations not only reflect their interesting communication skills but also show whether a fox is in an aggressive state or not. With that said, it’s best to dig into the details to give you a better understanding.
High-Pitched Screaming Sound
Without a doubt, the most iconic noise that a fox produces is a high-pitched screaming sound. To an untrained ear, you can easily mistake this for a woman screaming and asking for help. It’s also quite hair-raising, especially since it’s often heard in the middle of the night.
But if you live near a fox sanctuary, know that these sounds are merely a mating call. Although it sounds like a scream, this is a high-pitched howl by the vixen. A similar howl is likewise produced by the male as an answer to the female.
Aside from being used as a mating call, foxes similarly produce the same scream-like sound during the breeding itself. Since foxes are nocturnal beings, much of it, unfortunately for us, takes place at night.
It must also be noted that the same shrill sound is produced when foxes try to scare off their enemies. This includes coyotes, bears, other foxes, and other predators.
Bark, Cackle, or Pant
Another common sound that foxes make is barking. But this isn’t the same as the sound you often hear from dogs. A fox’s bark is often low and raspy, and they often use it to communicate with each other.
In other instances, you’ll hear something similar to a cackle or a pant. According to a study, foxes, specifically the silver fox species, cackle or pant among their conspecifics. Tame silver foxes are also known to make these sounds around humans, so it’s a good sign if you hear them cackle.
Cough or Snort
In contrast to barking, coughing or snorting sounds mean that they are threatened and would likely act aggressively. In a study conducted on silver foxes, it was revealed that wild foxes would cough or snort around humans.
Thus, if you hear foxes make a similar sound, it’s best to stay at a distance since they are bound to act aggressively.
Another sound that foxes make when they feel threatened is a yelp. They often let out a yelp when they’re about to fight or whenever they’re already engaged in one.
The yelp usually isn’t a pained shriek that you might expect. It’s usually accompanied by a slight rattling sound – something unique among foxes.
Surprisingly, foxes also produce a purring sound. It’s similar to a cat’s purr, only louder and a little higher in pitch.
This is the sound they make whenever they feel relaxed and is quite common among domesticated foxes. If you happen to pet a domesticated fox and it starts to purr, you can take it as a positive sign.
One of the most unique sounds that foxes make is their playful squeals. This is a high-pitched sound that they often produce when they’re being playful. This is another sound that you would hear around domesticated foxes, but it can also be heard in some wild fox species.
And finally, you can also hear them make hooting sounds. Interestingly, this is a sound you can only hear when you’re close enough to two or more foxes.
You see, foxes make a hooting sound as a greeting call to fellow foxes. But, they only let out this low hoot when they’re physically close enough to the other fox. This is in contrast to the fox’s bark, which they use to communicate from a distance.
Do Foxes Make a Screaming Noise?
Foxes make a screaming noise. As previously stated, foxes make a scream-like noise when they’re howling for a mate or trying to scare away their predators. Now, while this screaming noise sounds like they’re in pain, that is not the case at all. You might just have to try and get through it for a couple of nights.
What Noise Does a Fox Make at Night?
Foxes are known to make a shrill, scream-like noise at night. This high-pitched sound is akin to a woman’s scream and is usually mistaken as cries for help by those who can hear it.
This sound is mostly made during the fox mating season and can be quite bothersome for those who hear it for the first time. While they sound like they’re getting hurt, experts assure us that there’s nothing to worry about.
In some instances, foxes also let out an aggressive scream when they’re trying to keep their enemies away. This is to ensure the protection of their territory against nighttime predators.
Another noise you might hear from foxes at night is their barking call. They let out this low-pitched throaty bark to warn their group of a potential danger lurking nearby. This is one of the ways we know how smart foxes truly are.
Why Do Foxes Scream at Night?
Foxes scream at night because they are nocturnal beings, which means that they mainly conduct most of their activities at night. This is true for most species of foxes, especially gray and red foxes.
In fact, foxes have eyes that help them see better at night. This gives them the edge to hunt and perform other survival activities in the dark. Unfortunately for those who live near fox territories, these screams can be a problem.
On the bright side, this is usually the case for wild foxes. For domesticated foxes, you won’t hear them screaming as much at night – except during the mating season. This is great news since you don’t have to worry about late-night noise throughout most of the year.
Why Don’t You Hear Foxes Screaming During the Day?
Foxes do not scream during the day since they prefer to rest once it’s daytime. It has been previously established that foxes are nocturnal, so most of their activities happen during the nighttime.
While some fox species tend to be awake during the day, their daytime activity is still at a minimum. The same is true for some domesticated foxes. Nevertheless, they spend most of the day sleeping, while the remaining time is spent searching for food.
Also, it must be emphasized that foxes usually scream as a mating call. This often takes place in the winter, especially in January. During the other months, they mainly scream only to scare off their enemies and predators, which doesn’t happen as often.
Overall, foxes are generally silent in the daytime, especially when it’s not the winter season.
Where Will You Be Likely to Hear Foxes Screaming?
Foxes are most likely to be heard screaming in their natural habitat. Bear in mind that foxes scream primarily as a mating call. Alternatively, they scream to scare away their enemies. As such, these screams usually take place where they feel safe and comfortable – a place that they consider their home.
Depending on the fox species, this can be in the forest, grassland, or the mountains. On the other hand, urban foxes tend to live in areas with noticeable overgrowth. And in the case of domesticated foxes, they can also scream from a protected place in your garden.
Foxes make a variety of sounds to communicate. They scream, yelp, bark, and snort, among others. Although some are considered noise, it’s undeniable that foxes create such fascinating vocalizations. To the untrained ear, the nightly screams can even be quite alarming.
List of Sources
Foxes. (2021). Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Gogoleva, S. S., et al. (2010). Vocalization toward conspecifics in silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) selected for tame or aggressive behavior toward humans. Behavioural processes.
Learn about foxes. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Urban foxes. Wandsworth Council.
What does the fox actually say? (2013). The University of Melbourne.