Foxes and wolves – especially red foxes (Foxes) and gray wolves (Canis lupus) – have captured the imagination for millennia. Think back to some of your favorite childhood stories, such as the Big Bad Wolf in Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood, or the sly fox in Gingerbread man.
If you spotted them in the wild, would you be able to tell the difference between a fox and a wolf? With this guide, you can! What happens if the fox and the wolf intersect? Will they fight? Who will win? Read on as we explore these issues.
Fox against the wolf
Wolves and foxes live in the same habitat, but they are relatively easy to distinguish from each other due to the large difference in size. They also differ in color, behavior and vocalization.
Where do foxes and wolves live? Gray wolves and red foxes can be found on all continents of the Northern Hemisphere – North America, Europe and Asia. The red fox has also been introduced to Australia, but not in this country.
Comparison of wolves and foxes
When you see a dog-like mammal in the wild, pay attention to these identifying factors. Let’s consider each of these features in more detail.
|Grey Wolf||Red fox|
|The size:||Height 2.8 feet at the shoulder, weigh up to 180 pounds||Height 1.3 feet at the shoulders, weight up to 31 pounds|
|Coloration:||Usually gray with white, black, brown, or reddish markings||can be solid white or black – red with white markings|
|Behavior:||Social package hunter||secluded|
|Vocalization:||Howling, barking and yapping||Screams and barks|
4 main differences between red foxes and gray wolves
Can you tell the difference between a red fox and a gray wolf? Let’s take a closer look at their differences in size, coloration, behavior, and vocalization.
1. Size: height and weight
The most obvious difference between foxes and wolves is their size. Adult male gray wolves are larger than most large domestic dogs. They grow up to 2.8 feet at the shoulders and weigh up to 180 pounds. Females are usually smaller in size.
On the other hand, the red fox is about the size of a large cat or medium-sized dog. It stands about 1.3 feet at the shoulder and only weighs 31 pounds. This means that the gray wolf is six times the size of the fox! These size differences are clearly visible even from a distance or in low light conditions.
The gray wolf and red fox were named after the color of their fur. This makes it easy to remember that the gray wolf is predominantly gray, and the red fox is orange-red.
However, each species exhibits color variations. Gray wolves may have brown, white, black, or reddish spots. Some are solid white or solid black. One of the North American subspecies is known as the red wolf. As the name suggests, its fur is reddish in color.
There are also several related species of foxes that share the range of red foxes. The silver fox and gray fox are grayish in color with black, brown or red markings. And a Russian breeding experiment conducted in the twentieth century showed that even more color combinations are possible for foxes (for example, white with brown spots). However, they are not found in the wild.
Foxes and wolves belong to the same taxonomic family – Canidae, dogs – and therefore they have a lot in common. They make holes in the ground to raise the young. They are carnivores that hunt mammals. However, their behavior also varies greatly in two important aspects – their social order and what they hunt for.
Wolves are pack hunters with a very sociable character. They live in groups and work in teams to eliminate large prey including deer, sheep, caribou and bison.
Foxes, on the other hand, are individual and are usually only seen in groups when rearing chicks. Adult foxes spend little time together. They do not hunt in packs, so their prey is much smaller – small mammals such as mice and rabbits, birds and even eggs and fruits.
Wolves are known for their loud and intrusive howl, with which they communicate over long distances. Foxes, meanwhile, are better known for the viral song “What Does the Fox Say?”
So what does the fox say? Foxes make barking sounds like oh-wah-wow. They are also known to scream – a high-pitched sound similar to a woman’s scream. These noises are often heard during the mating season. The male uses such vocalizations to keep competitors at a distance, while the female screams to attract males.
Next: Oldest Greenland Shark in the World
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is a fox stronger than a wolf?
No, the fox is much smaller than the wolf, about six times smaller. The larger size of the wolf gives it more muscle and therefore more strength.
Can a fox kill a wolf?
This circumstance would be unlikely. Foxes are shy and usually avoid wolves. Wolves are the highest predators, of course, no one hunts them. Foxes prey on much smaller animals like mice. For this battle to take place, the wolf must be seriously ill or injured, and the fox is desperately dying of hunger.
Which is more dangerous, a fox or a wolf?
Because of their larger size, wolves pose a greater risk to humans than foxes, although wolf attacks are extremely rare. Foxes will not fight humans unless they are bitter, caught, and processed.
Are foxes and wolves the same?
No. Foxes and wolves belong to the same family, Canidae, but they are not the same species.