Red Foxes in The Winter (Behavior in The Cold Months)

Foxes are warm-blooded animals who stay active in winter. These small canids use their thick fur coats as jackets so they may stay warm during winter. Red foxes spend most of their time scavenging for food, which can be difficult to come by. Most small mammals, birds, and insects are inactive during winter, so the fox must be strategic.

This article will discuss red fox behavior in wintertime, how red foxes hunt food during winter, and how these small canids survive through sub-freezing temperatures.

How Do Red Foxes Stay Warm In Winter?

Red foxes stay warm in winter because of several popular adaptations, including the thickening of their winter fur and an adaptation to their diet.

Their winter fur is a major adjustment for the small red fox, and it makes a huge impact on the red fox’s survival in winter. It also increases their size significantly.

Red Foxes Remain Active in Winter

Red foxes stay warm through winter because of their constant activity. Unlike many animals which hibernate, the fox is highly active. They can thank their thick winter fur for their ability to remain active during winter.

The insulated fur is what keeps these foxes warm enough to venture around and stay active even during intense blizzards.

Red Fox’s Winter Fur

A thick winter coat called their ‘winter fur’ comes in during fall, allowing the red fox to remain active through the winter. According to World Wildlife Federation, the fox’s winter fur helps them stay active all winter. It also helps them sleep in open places and under piles of snow without getting cold.

As the red fox’s winter fur comes in at the end of autumn, they can withstand colder temperatures. By winter, the insulation of their fur is enough to prevent the red fox from feeling any cold at all. 

Red Fox Winter Paw Pads

The red fox’s winter fur is a basic example of the red fox’s natural ability to adapt. In addition to their winter fur, red foxes have also adapted their footpads to make them resistant to the cold.

The red fox can withstand walking in cold temperatures, sliding on ice, and more because of this important adaptation. 

The Red Fox Winter Diet

In winter, the red fox’s diet consists mainly of vegetation. The red fox prepares for this shift subconsciously, as it has been done for generations before. If a fox cannot find food in their area, they may need to migrate elsewhere before returning to their territory at the beginning of spring. 

Do Red Foxes Hibernate In Winter?

Foxes do not hibernate during winter mainly because they cannot successfully enter torpor. Therefore, they must continue to feed themselves and stay active through the winter to survive. Typically, foxes will remain defending their territory through winter. 

The scarcer resources get, the more often red foxes migrate elsewhere to find food. As the red fox migrates, they are careful not to cross territory with others. They are also mindful not to travel too far from their territory.

Doing these things could be dangerous for the red fox. They may be attacked by a competing fox (or large predator) or become separated from their remaining pack.

Where Do Red Foxes Sleep In Winter? 

Foxes sleep in open spaces while it snows during winter. They do not care about sleeping in dens or under a covered area. Although, a lot of the time, as they sleep in an open clearing, they will curl up at the base of a tree.

Sleeping at the tree’s base is a comfort tactic for the red fox. It ensures that a predator cannot sneak up behind them while they are sleeping.

In winter, you can find red foxes sleeping in open spaces like pastures and yards under blankets of snow. The range of the red fox is expansive.

Generally, the red fox prefers environments with mountains, grasslands, and deserts that permit direct snowfall. Direct snowfall keeps the red fox covered in snow, which camouflages their bright red fur against the white snow.

What Do Red Foxes Eat In The Winter Months?

Foxes forage vegetation during winter like berries, leaves, and other fruits. They may also eat food like mice and rabbits during the winter months. They may even try to combat a larger animal if they are hungry enough.

Hunting in winter is difficult because of the decreased resources. However, it is still possible for the red fox because of their great hunting skills.

Scavenging Vegetation

In winter, the red fox becomes a scavenger for vegetation. Their foraging shift is mainly since the food is so scarce during winter that red foxes will eat anything they can find in their diet.

They seek out vegetation, but competing predators can make finding the vegetables and fruits they need difficult. 

When food is scarce in their area, it may sometimes lead the red foxes to migrate elsewhere. Migration can be dangerous to the red fox.

Hunting in Winter

Despite adopting a primarily-vegetarian diet during winter, red foxes still hunt during cold weather. It is significantly harder to capture prey when the weather is cold since many of the red foxes’ prey are underground hibernating or carefully avoiding their predator, the red fox.

Red foxes are excellent hunters because of their adaptive skills. They have keen eyesight, which they use to watch the snow move before leaping beneath the snow to catch rodents. In addition to this, they will also prey on birds and invade dens. 

Should You Feed Red Foxes During Winter?

If you encounter a fox during wintertime, you should avoid feeding it. Feeding a fox may result in serious health issues for the fox since many of the ingredients in your food can be poisonous to animals.

Similarly, introducing something new into the fox’s diet can be dangerous -especially during winter when they may not have other resources available.

Foxes are intelligent hunters who can scavenge food from anywhere. Give them their space and allow the smart canid to scavenge its food.