Foxes are quite small and look like dogs, so it seems logical that they will make a sound like a dog, but higher pitched than other similar animals, doesn’t it?
It’s because they do look like dogs that you may also expect a fox to bark. Appearances don’t always tell you what to expect, though.
It may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the most common sound a fox makes is to scream.
Why Do Foxes Scream?
The reason foxes scream is quite simple: Foxes scream to communicate. This can be when the male is telling another male to stay away, or when he feels threatened and wants to appear strong. A vixen usually screams during the mating season to attract a mate.
What a Fox’s Scream Means
It is sometimes said to sound like a woman shrieking as though she is in trouble, but it doesn’t always sound exactly like a human.
If you are out in the country and hear an animal screaming from somewhere in the dark, then you may be forgiven if you think it sounds as though someone is in trouble.
How a Fox Sounds Like When it Screams
There are a few different sounds a fox makes when it screams. They are all high-pitched.
One of the screams is quite a short shriek. It sounds almost as though the fox is going to give a very high bark and then makes it slightly longer.
This is what is usually called the Vixen’s scream.
Another of the screams is shorter than the Vixen’s scream and is stronger, so it is really like a high bark. The male is screaming and it sounds almost desperate.
The third type of scream is longer than the other two, and begins to sound like a howl, but is not as long. It sounds as though it peters out at the end.
Do Foxes Only Communicate by Screaming
Foxes don’t only communicate by screaming. They can also bark, although it is still quite a high sound.
When they are fighting, or even playing, they can make a sound that is called ‘gekkering’. This sounds somewhere between a short, high-pitched bark and a squeak.
A male fox can also growl at a rival to warn him to keep away, or if he feels threatened. If a male fox approaches a female and she isn’t ready for mating, she may snarl at him.
Foxes can also communicate while making no sound. This is when he marks his territory by spraying urine on a tree, or bush, or just a particular part of the area.
These actions tell the other male foxes to stay away.
Which Foxes Scream, Male or Female
Both male and female foxes can scream and they do for different reasons. Their screams also sound slightly different from the others.
The male scream is quite quick and sharp. The female is like a high-pitched, long shriek.
What Foxes Want When They Scream
Foxes quite simply scream to communicate. If a male is being aggressive, he may scream to another male to keep away from him, or his mate, or just from his area.
A male may also scream if he is threatened.
Female foxes can scream at any time, but it is rare that they will make too much noise until it is the mating season. Then, they will scream a lot, because this is the way to attract a mate.
Often, the female will only be answered by her own mate.
The mating season is from winter to very early spring, so expect to hear some screaming during these months.
What Time of Day Foxes Scream
Foxes are mostly nocturnal, which means they come out at night. From when the sun is on the way towards the horizon, you can expect to hear them scream.
This may continue throughout the night, but not for hours at a time. A fox will scream until it has achieved what it wants to, then it will remain silent again.
Sometimes foxes are active in the day and you may hear them scream then. This is especially likely to happen during the mating season.
However, if a vixen wants to communicate with her cubs by making short screams, she could easily do this during the day.
Frequently Asked Questions about Why Foxes Scream
Is a fox in pain when it screams?
If a fox is in pain, it will make a sound that is almost like a short, sharp shriek. This can sound similar to other sounds that a fox makes, though. A fox’s scream doesn’t always mean it’s in pain.
Do foxes only scream at night?
Foxes are active at night, so you can expect to hear them screaming after dark. However, sometimes they scream during the day because they are communicating with each other.
Is that a human screaming for help? Or is it a vixen calling a mate?
It only takes a little imagination to think the two sounds are almost identical. Foxes scream to communicate, usually at night.
This is the time when it is dark and you want to be tucked up in bed. Hearing a fox scream is both fascinating and frightening, particularly if you don’t know exactly why they do it.
Are you in trouble if you hear a fox screaming? Not usually.
The fox is just sending a message to the other foxes out there.