Can Foxes See In The Dark (How & Why It’s Useful): Ultimate Guide

Many animals are nocturnal which means they are more active at night than they are during the day. Foxes fall into this category and, while it’s not uncommon to see a fox in the daytime, they prefer to conduct most of their business under the cover of darkness!

To do this, they need to be able to see in the dark, which they can do very well. But what gives a fox its superior night vision?

And why is it that they choose to come out at night time?

If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ll take you on a journey through everything you need to know about a fox’s ability to see in the dark.

You might even find some surprising facts along the way!

How Do Foxes See In The Dark?

A fox’s eyes have certain adaptations that don’t allow them to see in the dark but give them high-definition vision even when it’s pitch black outside. 

The first of these adaptations is large eyes. This allows more light to flow into their retinas. So, even by moonlight, a fox is able to almost as clearly as they would during the day. 

They also have a light-reflecting system at the back of their retinas called ‘Tapetum lucidum’. This takes the light that enters their eyes and reflects it back into the retina, then back out again.

This results in even more light and, as such, a higher level of night vision. 

The layer of tapetum lucidum in a fox’s eyes is what gives them that glow when an artificial light hits them. In this case, their eyes are taking in so much light that they become super-reflective, kind of like the reflecting plates you see on roads. 

Why Do Foxes Come Out At Night?

There are a few reasons why foxes choose to come out at night more frequently than during the day. The main reason is that it’s when they are able to hunt safely.

Many fox predators such as bears and wolves are mostly active during the day. By coming out at night, a fox stands a much better chance of being able to catch its prey without becoming prey itself!

Another reason why foxes choose to come out at night is that they have learned this when humans are less likely to be around.

As the human population has grown, more of a fox’s natural habitat has been replaced with houses and apartments. This is why we now have ‘urban foxes’. 

The same rule of safety applies to urban foxes. They’ll come out more frequently at night because it’s when they feel safest. 

Finally, foxes choose to come out at night because it’s when a lot of their prey is also active. While foxes are omnivorous and will eat berries, acorns, tubers, and all other sorts of vegetation, they also require animal protein.

By the cover of night, they are able to use their incredible ability to see in the dark in order to catch bats, rats, mice, fish, and reptiles. 

In the case of urban foxes, you might also find that a fox chooses to come out at night to scavenge through your garbage. Again, they have learned that nighttime is the best time to do this as there aren’t many humans around. 

Do Foxes Come Out During The Day?

Generally speaking, a fox will spend most of its day sleeping in the safety of its underground den. However, it’s not uncommon for a fox to venture out during the daytime, especially in urban areas.

There are a couple of reasons why they may be more active during the day as well.

Foxes can be seen quite commonly during the daytime when it’s their mating season. They’ll use every opportunity they can to find a mate and if that means venturing out in broad daylight, then so be it! 

Likewise, when they have found a mate and the couple are raising their new litter of cubs, they may be more active in the day as they need to provide a regular supply of food. 

Hunger and desperation may be another reason why a fox chooses to risk exposing itself during the day, especially if there is a food shortage.

Occasionally, they may also decide that they have a craving for a certain type of prey that is more active during the day, such as birds and squirrels. 


There are many reasons why foxes are mostly nocturnal and, as you can see, they have some really impressive adaptations that give them amazing night vision.

However, they don’t rely on it exclusively. It’s quite common to see a fox during the day, especially during spring and winter when their mating season begins or if they are looking for a food source for themselves or their pups. 

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an author and researcher dedicated to bringing reliable information about foxes to the public. He supports animal sanctuary awareness.

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