General Question

jaytkay's avatar

Why are foxes scarce?

Asked by jaytkay (25765points) May 6th, 2011

I spend some time outdoors. Large & medium mammals I have seen include bears, deer, coyotes, badgers, wolves, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, bobcats.

I have never seen a fox.

Are they extremely rare? Foxes in general are not on the US endangered species list. Are they just too, ummmm, sly and stealthy? Where are the foxes?

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29 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

They are all over the place where I live, which is mostly old fields and woods. However, I watched one wander around for ten minutes in downtown Lenox, MA around Christmas time. It looked healthy and not mangy and seemed content to be watched.

yankeetooter's avatar

I see them out my way kind of frequently, while driving at least. I don’t see them too much in the woods while hiking…maybe they’re just good at making themselves scarce?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

They are out there.I am not sure why you haven’t seen them. I see them once in awhile in my area.I even had the pleasure of seeing a young pup with it’s mom on one of my walks.

Cruiser's avatar

They are all over where I live…you just have to get up early to see them and they are expert at hiding in plain sight! 4 am – 5 am is when I see them out in the open the most!

KateTheGreat's avatar

I see them all of the time. They are constantly eating the poor little chickens on my farm.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I see them occasionally. I wouldn’t say frequently, but I see them once or twice a year. They are pretty sly though, and very quick.

wilma's avatar

I see them, not often but some. I think they are around more than we know.
They aren’t usually road kill around where I live, I guess that they are too smart and quick to get hit.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Are you out and about much at night? Cuz that’s when they are. I used to see them a lot when I worked the night shift. Now, only occasionally. They are very stealthy.

Nullo's avatar

We have a fair few foxes around St. Louis. I’ve seen them go by the house on occasion, and there are some around the UM-St. Louis campus.
Like @incendiary_dan said, they are most frequently out at night.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@wilma My friend picked up a roadkilled one in CT recently. It does happen from time to time, but less often than other animals.

Bellatrix's avatar

Foxes aren’t native animals in Australia but they are about. I have never seen one in the 10 years I have lived here but my daughter leaves for work very early in the morning and said she saw this animal happily running down the middle of the road one day and only realised it was a fox when it noticed her, stopped for a moment and then ran away. It sounds as though they were both quite stunned to see each other.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve seen a few. Maybe it’s just your location?

crisw's avatar

Where, exactly, are you?

gailcalled's avatar

In the spring, after the foxes have their kits, I have often seen the male hunting in the late afternoon in my woods.

Sunny2's avatar

They’re small and don’t want to be seen and they’re very good at hiding. If you have the opportunity, camp where you know they’re around and watch at night. You might get lucky.

cloudvertigo's avatar

There are lots where I’m living though they are mostly nocturnal and, well, “fleet foxes.” I was driving a taxi on the night shift and I would see them regularly and, unlike porcupines and elk which have . . . different strategies to dealing with large metal animals, foxes would hightail it when they saw you coming. You’re quite right; overall I think they prefer a hilly, wooded environment for being sly and stealthy.

jaytkay's avatar

Where, exactly, are you?

Lots of places. My animal list in the original question is from Michigan (upper and lower peninsulas), Southern California mountains, Los Angeles, Chicago (we have coyotes), Colorado front range and up along the Colorado, South Platte and Poudre rivers.

_zen_'s avatar

What are: hounds.

jaytkay's avatar

Hmmm, I’m not really well situated to be caring for or deploying a pack of hounds.

But hey, Chicago gets a new mayor this month, maybe he’ll go for that!

Coloma's avatar

We have lots of gray foxes around here, but I have never seen a red fox. They are supposed to be around but I have not seen one since I was a kid. The Gray foxes are smaller and very cute, and they climb rtrees amazingly well!
Saw 2 kits scamper up into an Oak tree last summer while out carousing with mama fox.

Aethelwine's avatar

We have many in western Illinois. One ran in front of me the other night as I was driving.

Haleth's avatar

I’ve only ever seen foxes at night, near the woods, when I lived in places that were already out in the sticks. I lived in one far-out suburb a few years ago and used to see foxes running across the street when I came home from work late at night. Nowadays, I’m living almost in the country and there’s a big field and some woods out in my backyard. I see foxes every once in a while around the woods, very late at night.

meiosis's avatar

I saw one walking down my street late at night a few weeks ago. They have become more of an urban animal here in the UK, and are anything but scarce – it’s estimated there are 28 foxes per square mile in London.

cazzie's avatar

Foxes aren’t rare at all. They’re cunning. They’re one of the most wide spread and successful carnivores in the Northern Hemisphere. In England, they’re in gardens and frequently seen. They’re careful and smart.

crisw's avatar


“My animal list in the original question is from Michigan (upper and lower peninsulas), Southern California mountains, Los Angeles, Chicago (we have coyotes), Colorado front range and up along the Colorado, South Platte and Poudre rivers.”

Red foxes are pretty scarce in some of those areas.

Southern CA and L.A. have gray foxes. I think I’ve seen three or four in all my years here, although my boss had a den in her garden one year and got to watch the kits grow up :>) There are reds in CA, but they are only native to the Sierras and the Sacramento Valley; the others are descendants of escaped fur-farm foxes. Last I heard, they had spread as far south as Orange County, but I don’t think they are particularly common.

As far as Colorado, they are mainly found in the forest edges and riparian areas.

Michigan is pretty good fox country, especially in the areas with patches of wood and farmland.

You mentioned coyotes. In areas where you have both foxes and coyotes, the coyotes will kill or drive off the foxes. The foxes tend to live in the “no mans land” between coyote territories.

In many areas, foxes are also hit very hard by diseases like mange and distemper.

Good luck in your foxwatching. One of my life goals is to see a red fox in the wild (or at least capture one on my trail camera!) least when we move from San Diego to the Pacific Northwest it will be possible!

wilma's avatar

I have seen both red and gray in the wild. The red was more spectacular in its beauty. The gray was faster, or seemed to be, as I didn’t see them at the same time.

jaytkay's avatar

This is interesting. I guess I have to try harder to outsmart the sly foxes.

I even spent a week on Santa Cruz Island and missed the Santa Cruz Island Fox

Thanks everyone!

GingerMinx's avatar

Very rare, in fact, there are none in the country where I live.

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