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Fox Social Life: Do Foxes Live in Packs?
Foxes are canids, along with dogs, wolves, and coyotes. Other species in the same family roam in packs. You might see a lone coyote, but usually, their pack is close-by, and you most often see them in groups. But foxes are a different story. Have you ever seen a group of foxes? What would that even be called? Do foxes hunt in packs? These are good questions, but to answer, we’re going to have to take a closer look at foxes.
Foxes go through an interesting cycle each year. They mate in the winter, have cubs in the spring, then raise the cubs through the spring, summer, and winter. By the time winter comes around again, the cubs are now fully-grown adult foxes, able to care for themselves and ready to mate and continue the cycle.
But that means that two parent foxes usually have a group of cubs with them for most of the year. They all share the same den, but hunting is done separately once the cubs are old enough to fend for themselves. The maturing foxes won’t leave the den for good until winter when they’re ready to mate.
How Foxes Avoid Each Other
While fox families stick together for some length of time as the cubs adjust to life and prepare to head out on their own, interaction between foxes that aren’t mating or family are very rare.
Young males will search for young females in the winter, but most species of fox will stick together for life once they find a suitable mating partner. Beyond this, they tend to stay in their own territory, so non-related foxes rarely see each other. But this is no accident. In fact, foxes have methods to ensure that they don’t unnecessarily run into each other.
Foxes are highly territorial. They don’t want other foxes in their area. So, they use scent marking, just like dogs, to ensure that other foxes know to stay out of their area. But if they should happen to meet on accident, it rarely ends in altercation.
Other Times Foxes Stick Together
Foxes usually have families consisting of two parents and their cubs, but that’s not the only time that foxes stick together. Sometimes, foxes have a helper pair that follows the dominant pair of the household. These helpers are most often the dominant pair’s offspring that stayed in the den longer than normal.
Are Foxes Pack Hunters?
Even among a family, each member will hunt and forage for themselves. In the first few months of a cub’s life, their food is brought back to the den by one of their parents. But once they’re old enough to start exploring the world outside the den, they’re made to start finding food of their own. This forces them to be self-reliant early while they’re still living in their parent’s den. It’s necessary though since foxes have to be ready to fend for themselves in such a short time.
For the most part, foxes try to avoid running into other foxes. But most foxes are living with other foxes in their own family. They mate every winter, which means they’re living with their cubs every spring and summer. The cubs have just one year to learn everything they need to know and move out so they can start families of their own. But even among family, hunting is done solo. Each member must feed themselves from a young age. So, foxes aren’t pack animals, but they are family animals.
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Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.