Foxes are some of the most cunning, evasive, and beautiful animals on the planet. Long a fixture in culture and folklore around the world, fox’s regularly come into conflict with human interests due to their predation of livestock, usually poultry and their eggs.
Foxes are infamous for their problem-solving capability and persistence, striking when you can least expect or deter them. But are foxes dangerous?
Sometimes foxes may be dangerous. They don’t usually pose a threat to humans, and are rarely aggressive unless they are rabid or cornered.
Foxes are highly intelligent and very cagey, and will usually run at the very first indication of trouble or uncertainty.
However, foxes are also known for their adaptability, and many live quite well in urban and suburban areas among people, meaning that close contact with humans is more likely than ever. This can sometimes result in dangerous encounters.
Learn more about foxes and the danger they sometimes pose in this article.
Understanding Fox Behavior
Foxes are highly adaptable, intelligent, and curious, and in the wild may live solitary or semi-solitary lives, though living within a clutch of close relatives as a family group is also common.
In certain parts of the world and concerning certain species of foxes, they are entirely solitary.
Foxes spend much of their time moving around and looking for food when they are not sleeping or preparing a den.
Considering their overall small size, foxes have intense nutritional requirements and must consume around 2 pounds of food every single day.
Notably, foxes will stash food that they do not eat right away for later retrieval or feeding to kits (young).
Foxes are famous, or perhaps infamous, for their intelligence and cunning. When threatened or pursued foxes proved to be highly elusive, relying on their agility, knowledge of the terrain, and stealth to evade pursuers.
Are Foxes Aggressive Toward Humans?
Foxes are very rarely aggressive toward human beings, but attacks on humans are hardly unheard of.
A fox will most likely show aggression towards a person when young are threatened or when the fox itself is cornered or captured.
Blatant, daylight aggression in a fox is usually a sign of rabies or some other brain trauma if the aggression is not directed toward a child.
Have Foxes Ever Attacked Humans?
Yes, comparatively often compared to other wild animals. Though fox attacks are rare there are many documented historical instances, and attacks by “urban” foxes in England are becoming increasingly common.
In rural areas, fox attacks seem to be less common overall due to the foxes’ natural wariness and lack of experience with people.
How Do Foxes Attack?
When a fox attacks a human it will do so by biting. Like all canids, foxes have powerful jaws and many sharp teeth suitable for gripping and dismembering prey animals. Turned to defense, these teeth can do quite a lot of damage in a short period of time.
The speed and agility of the fox means that multiple bites can be inflicted rapidly in a short period of time, and it can be difficult to defend yourself from a fox as it dances and dodges around you.
Notably, several victims have been taken completely unawares by unprovoked, non-rabid fox attacks, and in one case a man was bitten while he was sleeping inside his tent on a fishing trip.
These maulings usually result in fairly substantial injuries compared to the size of the fox, and often lead to permanent scarring.
What Causes Fox Aggression?
Fox aggression is most often caused by the instinct to defend young, or else when the fox is cornered, captured, or incapable of escape.
However, foxes may also attack if they are rabid, more on that in a minute, but sometimes attacks seem to be completely unprovoked, particularly against people who are old or infirm and against children.
Do Foxes Eat People?
In some cases, yes. Although it is not thought that an adult fox will directly attack an adult human for food, the same cannot be said for very small children.
Similarly, foxes are omnivores and opportunistic, meaning they might eat carrion off of a fresh corpse.
If you were to perish in an area where foxes were present, they would almost certainly be drawn to your body and eat your flesh.
If you are an adult, you probably do not have anything to worry about when it comes to a fox attacking you, but if you are in areas with foxes, particularly bold foxes that are unafraid of people you should keep small children close to you.
Are Foxes Territorial?
Foxes can be territorial, but rarely will they display an instinct of defense over their territory alone when it comes to humans.
Foxes that are pressured in their home range are far more likely to relocate to a secondary den or to leave the area entirely.
Exceptions are foxes inhabiting urban and suburban areas which grow increasingly used to human presence and activity.
However, foxes may display aggression and territoriality in defense of a den that has kits in it.
How Strong is a Fox?
Foxes are quite strong for their size and highly athletic. They are very fast, can turn on a dime, and jump both high and far.
Foxes can also deliver quite a nasty bite with their jaws, more than capable of inflicting a substantial injury upon an adult human.
What Should You Do if You See a Fox?
If you see a fox in the wild, simply admire it from a safe distance. Assuming the animal is not rabid or you’re not provoking it, the fox is likely to remain at a distance or withdraw once it becomes aware of your presence.
What Should You Do if Attacked by a Fox?
If you are attacked by a fox, fight back with everything that you can muster, and try to use a weapon if you can, even if it is just a sturdy branch or tool handle.
A fox that is attacking a human being may be rabid, in which case it could be mindlessly aggressive and heedless of danger or the instinct of self-preservation.
But in the case a fox is attacking a human for another reason, or particularly attacking a child, it should give up and run once the tables have turned on it.
Using a stick or some other object as a shield to attempt to keep the fox at a distance is a good strategy, or else it can be used as a sacrificial decoy that the fox will bite at.
Do Foxes Carry Diseases People Can Catch?
Foxes can carry a variety of germs and parasites that are not of particular concern to humans outside of the usual mites, fleas, and ticks with one exception.
Foxes are known vectors of rabies, and although they are not the most common vector there has been a slowly but steadily increasing amount of rabid fox attacks on people in the United States and in England in the past decade.
A rabid fox may act with uncharacteristic boldness or dullness even in the middle of the day, might approach people even from quite a distance, and attack with no provocation.
Like all wild mammals, this is another good reason to keep your distance from foxes out in the world, and should you notice any foxes behaving erratically or approaching you under no circumstances should you assume that they are tame or friendly.
Keep your distance and seek shelter at once. If you are bitten by a fox, it is imperative that you get tested for rabies right away.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.