Foxes are omnivorous animals, which means that they have a diet that consists of both meat and plants. But, with so many options on their menu, there are certain things that they don’t eat.
This isn’t a matter of taste, though. It’s a matter of intelligence!
If you’ve ever wondered whether foxes eat deers, you’ll find the answer below. You’ll also find everything you need to know about their eating habits, the reasoning behind some of their prey, and you’ll learn just how cunning foxes really are!
Do Foxes Eat Deer?
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way, to begin with. Foxes do eat deer. However, it’s not something that you’ll find them feasting on regularly.
The main reason for this is that deer are so much larger than foxes and, as such, it would be virtually impossible for a fox to take a deer down.
It’s also worth remembering that foxes are solitary creatures. Unlike their wolf-ancestors who hunt in packs and can efficiently hunt animals that are at least twice their size, a fox needs to do all the work by itself when it comes to catching its prey.
Do Foxes Eat Baby Deer?
While a fox isn’t powerful enough to successfully hunt an adult deer, it may have more success with fawns (baby deer). This is simply because they are so much smaller, lighter, and weaker than adult deer, so they are relatively easy to target.
However, this isn’t something that happens too regularly. The reason for this is that a fawn is never too far from the rest of the herd.
This keeps it protected and, as such, a fox may decide the chase isn’t really worth the energy. As a fawn is packed in among adult deer it may also be harder for a fox to spot, so they may not even notice it all.
Deer Aren’t Nocturnal
Another reason why deer don’t feature too frequently in a fox’s diet is that they aren’t nocturnal. Some do graze or move around a little at night time but, for the most part, deer tend to live their lives in the safety that daylight offers.
Conversely, foxes are mostly nocturnal. So, since both animals are active at different times, they are unlikely to meet each other. Instead, a fox will focus its attention on nocturnal prey such as bats, rats, and mice.
If you’ve ever seen a fox feeding on a dead deer, you might well think that it’s a vicious beast that is capable of killing an animal much bigger than itself.
However, as we’ve explained above, this really isn’t the case. In fact, there have been previous sightings of foxes passing through fields of deer without even attempting to hunt.
The most realistic explanation for seeing a fox eat deer is that they are opportunistic scavengers. Something larger than a fox will have killed the deer and eaten its full.
The fox will have come along at a later time and will have hit the jackpot with the meal they’ve discovered!
In fact, while foxes are more than capable of hunting smaller animals, they tend to lean towards scavenging food as a prepared way of feeding themselves.
The main reason for this is because it helps them conserve energy. After all, why do all the hard work yourself if someone else has done it for you? They get a nutrient-rich meal handed to them on a plate!
How Do Foxes Sense Dead Deer?
While foxes are clever enough to let larger predators take down prey they wouldn’t be able to, they don’t just stumble across a dead deer as a happy accident. They still need to find the carrion once its killer has abandoned it.
To help them do this, they call on the help of some of their super senses. The first of these is their heightened sense of smell, which helps them pick up on any scents coming from the dead deer that are flowing through the air.
Just like a dog, a fox’s nose has a huge number of nerve endings in it that connect it to the part of its brain that is responsible for identifying smells.
The stronger the smell becomes, the closer they are to their target, so their nose helps steer them in the right direction.
They also use their incredible ability to see in the dark as they approach their meal. This also gives them the ability to check whether there are any potential fox predators in the vicinity before they start eating.
The bottom line here is that foxes do eat deer. However, unless it’s a fawn, they are highly unlikely to attempt hunting a deer by themselves.
In most cases, if you see a fox feeding on deer, it has most likely come across a kill that has been left behind by a larger predator or that died of natural causes.