The quick and wily fox. You might not see such an adorable ball of orange fluff as much of a treat, but foxes are indeed wild animals. If you randomly come across a fox while walking around your yard at night, you might wonder, “Do foxes attack humans?” Should you be worried about yourself, your children, or other pets?
Let’s find out.
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Do Foxes Attack Humans?
Consider the nature of the fox: clever nocturnal hunters that prowl around at night or scavenge. Foxes are smaller than wolves, cougars, and bears, and they tend to shy away from other creatures, humans included. Most species of fox stay far away from suburban and urban residences, so you may never have to worry about encountering one.
And so, for an animal that avoids humans whenever possible, it is extremely rare to hear of a fox attacking a human. Should you accidentally stumble upon a fox during a hike, your presence will send it running away. In fight or flight situations, foxes choose flight.
In more developed areas, foxes raised around people may be more confident in approaching humans. This is especially true if there is food around. Leave a door open one day while you are cooking, and a wandering fox may be tempted to enter your kitchen. It’s also not uncommon for foxes to sniff around when your pet’s food is available.
Still, the instant the fox sees you around your home, it will choose to run.
Do Foxes Attack Humans at Night?
Despite being most active in the evening, foxes behave just as they would if you met them during the day. Foxes will flee before attacking you. Sadly, foxes have a poor reputation for attacking people at night. It is believed that there are also many misconceptions about foxes.
Many people clump foxes in with wild dogs or wolves, being that they are all related. Foxes don’t behave like wolves, though. Solitary by nature, foxes do not hunt in packs or hunt animals larger than they are.
Do Foxes Attack Children?
There have been reports of foxes attacking children, particularly in the UK. For example, in 2013, a fox entered a home in London and bit a baby boy on his hand. One of the child’s fingers needed to be surgically re-attached. However, it is rare for foxes to attack humans, regardless of the person’s size. It is thought that foxes avoid humans because we are also predators (in a sense). The exception to this rule is if the fox has rabies.
A representative from the RSPCA from the UK stated that it is “extremely unusual for foxes to attack young children or anyone. It’s not typical fox behavior at all.”
In other words, if your kids are running around outside and a fox shows up, you don’t have to immediately go on the offensive. Martin Hemmington of the National Fox Welfare Society also stated that foxes are curious about children, but they will not attack. It is highly unlikely that a fox will attack a human child.
Do Foxes Attack Other Pets?
Foxes have not made attacking humans a habit, but does that mean your pets are also safe? Think again. Although dogs are less at risk of getting attacked by a fox, smaller breeds could look appetizing. Puppies and kittens can attract hungry foxes, though it is rare for the opportunistic fox to go after kittens when an adult cat is nearby. There are reports of foxes that have terrorized neighbors in the UK. Many of those foxes were found to have cat remains in their stomachs during an autopsy.
Also, should cats get too close to a fox’s den where cubs are sleeping, an adult fox may attack in defense of their young.
While dogs and cats are less at risk of getting hurt by foxes, there are some pets and livestock that are fox magnets. Small mammals that live inside hutches, like your rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla, are far less safe. Foxes hunt rabbits and mice in the wild. Your pet rabbit kept in a cage outside is an easy meal for a hungry fox.
Furthermore, chickens, ducks, young turkeys, or other birds that roam your yard or garden may also be attacked by foxes day or night. Secure the doors and windows to your coops, barn, and shed. Otherwise, the fox will figure out how to get inside and cause chaos.
Are Foxes Dangerous to Humans?
Healthy foxes tend to avoid civilization whenever they can. This means that you will rarely see wild foxes while walking around outside. Happening across a fox while hiking is largely up to chance, as foxes do not go around searching for humans.
There are times, however, when foxes can be dangerous to people. In regions where the fox’s natural habitat has been destroyed, these animals are driven to scavenge food from trash cans, hutches, chicken coops, and campsites. Normally, even hungry foxes would rather filch snacks from your bag than attack, and they won’t behave aggressively.
However, you can never assume a fox won’t attack you or a child out of hunger. Furthermore, foxes that are diseased or injured may also lash out at people.
Aside from those instances, foxes will only harm humans if they feel cornered or threatened. Even if you are attempting to free a fox that is trapped or hurt, you must remember that they only see you as something bigger and more powerful. The fox is going to be stressed and scared, so they may snap at you if you get too close.
Can a Fox Eat a Human?
The media often paints predators in a poor light. Foxes have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they are only pests to small animals and livestock, such as chickens and their eggs.
Surprisingly, foxes are not carnivores like many predators. They’re omnivores, like people. Foxes won’t eat humans. To survive, foxes need to eat about a pound of food a day. To reach that 1 pound of food, foxes have a diet that is balanced with fruits, vegetables, and meat from smaller creatures. Rabbits, rodents, eggs, birds, and insects are the most common prey.
These creatures are opportunistic, meaning that they will take advantage whenever there is easy food within reach. Foxes gravitate towards leftover food in a pet’s bowl, fruits and vegetables in backyard gardens, and trash cans.
Is a Fox Bite Painful?
Do foxes attack humans? Not often, but if you were to get bit, it would be painful but not severe. Foxes are not built as powerfully as dogs and wolves, so their bites would not do as much damage. Children are at more of a risk of being fatally bitten.
Don’t be complacent, though. A fox bite could still kill you. Should you get attacked by a fox, seek medical attention immediately. Though the wound may not be deep, it is festering with loads of bacteria. Foxes can also transmit fleas and other parasites, mange, and toxoplasmosis.
Do Foxes Have Rabies?
One of the reasons why people wonder if foxes attack humans is because no one wants to get bit by a rabid animal. Foxes are indeed susceptible to rabies; in places where rabies occurs often, foxes contract the disease easily.
Fortunately, foxes aren’t the main vectors of rabies. Foxes can get rabies whenever they come in contact with the saliva of an infected animal.
You will know if a fox has rabies often by observing it. The symptoms of rabies include:
- Excessive salivation
- Growling for no reason
- Approaching humans or acting overly friendly
- Staggering around, drunkenly
- Dragging limbs/paralysis
The good news is that foxes are often infected with a strain of rabies that does not affect humans much. Should you get bit by an animal with rabies, however, you must react quickly in order for the treatment to be 100% effective.
If you are worried about your cats or dogs getting bitten, ensure their rabies vaccinations are up to date. Vaccinations are important because rabies can only be treated before symptoms are displayed. Being proactive will keep you and your pets safe from harm.
What To Do If a Fox Approaches You
You spot a flicker of reddish-orange fur moving down the road or in the bushes. What should you do if the fox starts to approach? In most cases, the fox is not going to be a threat to you. This doesn’t mean you should consider the fox friendly, even if it does come right up to you with its tail wagging. Even domesticated foxes can be unpredictable. Plus, foxes can quickly revert to their wild ways and will attack faster than you can blink. The risk of this happening increases if the fox feels threatened, cornered, or hungry.
Should a fox approach you, stay calm. Any small children should be moved behind you. Pick up your small pet and stay still. Avoid making any sudden movements. Also, do not get closer to the animal, as this could aggravate it.
Foxes scamper away when humans are nearby. If the fox refuses to budge, it may be hungry or curious. Foxes may come onto your property while scavenging. Give the fox space. You may wish to observe where they go, especially if you have small livestock or chicken coops. Foxes may also be scared off if you clap your hands and shout.
If you find yourself in a situation where the fox is inside a building or room, do not panic. Rushing into the room to scare them away may have the opposite effect. Instead, stay away from the animal. Give them a well-defined escape route by opening the door to the way out and blocking off other halls. If you start yelling or panicking, this could cause the animal to attack.
How To Keep Foxes Away
Foxes might not be the most dangerous predator to come across, but that does not make them less of a nuisance. If you don’t want foxes hanging around your yard, there are a few deterrents to try. For instance, fencing and other barriers are effective. Chain link fences with some of the fencing buried underground work well, especially for chicken runs.
You can also use repellents, such as hot sauce. Foxes are not fans of the scent. Other repellents include large breed dogs, motion-activated lights, and sprinklers. You can also try flags tied to the fence, as the fluttering may startle any foxes snooping around.
Also, remove attractants. Discourage scavenging by picking up any unused chicken feed or birdseed. Move small pets, including cats, indoors at nighttime.
Do foxes attack humans? The chance of it happening to you is low but never zero. While foxes tend to run from people rather than stick around to attack, they can be unpredictable at times. Foxes may attack if they feel threatened or unable to escape. Should you see a fox, stay away from it, and everything will be fine.