Fox Claws (Do Foxes Have Retractable Claws): Ultimate Guide

Foxes are something known as digitigrades, which means that they walk on their toes, not touching the ground with their heels.

They are a member of the Canidae family, the same family as wolves, jackals, and dogs, however, unlike the rest of this family these foxes are able to retract their claws, meaning that some species of fox, such as gray foxes can climb trees.

However, not all foxes have this trait. 

Let’s have a look at these foxes and how they use their claws, and which types of foxes can retract their claws. 

Arctic Fox Claws

Arctic foxes have slightly curved and very sharp claws. They live in the arctic tundra which requires a lot of digging.

They typically live underground, and they use their sharp claws for hunting and for fending off predators such as wolves, snowy owls, polar bears and more. Furthermore, they use their claws to dig homes beneath the tundra. 

The claws of this particular type of fox are cushioned in a thick layer of snow that aids the grip their paws have on snow and ice. 

Gray Fox Claws

Gray fox claws are semi-retractable, and they stay sharp for the entirety of the foxes’ life. These foxes are very similar to cats. They often climb trees, occasionally sleeping on a branch. 

Their sharp semi-retractable claws, and their rotating forearms make them able to climb trees, which makes them very different from other foxes. 

Gray foxes can climb up to 60ft up a tree and leap from branch to branch to escape predators or catch prey. In places such as Mexico, these foxes are even known to have more curved claws that are even sharper. 

Tracks for this type of fox are also unique as their claws are semi-retractable and their claws do not always show up on their tracks. 

These foxes hunt using moveable ears to locate their prey, they move under snow or matted vegetation, leaping to pin down their prey and then using their claws to pin the animal down.

Their claws make them very successful thanks to their retraction ability and their sharpness and curvature. 

Swift Fox Claws

Swift foxes are an endangered species, the reason for this is the destruction of their natural habitat, as well as intensive hunting and trapping. 

They are the smallest member of the fox family, being similar in size to a normal house cat. However, their name is just like their ability, they are swift, able to run at 50mph. 

These foxes are also big to build dens, often consisting of a single burrow and entrance. Some others can be complex, with birthing lairs and mazes of tunnels.

They use their claws to build these dens, excavating dirt. These foxes can enlarge and modify badger or squirrel holes they can easily dig their own homes with their fantastic claws. 

Their claws make it easy for them to burrow and dig, as well as enabling them to be skillful hunters. 

Red Fox Claws

Red foxes are the most common fox around the world, with the overall greatest geographical range of any fox. These foxes have pads on the bottom of their paws, which allows them to move easily in any terrain. 

They, too, have very sharp claws that protrude out of their paws, however they are not retractable, and they protrude from their paws at all times.

These sharp claws help them to catch their prey and fight off any predators. They also use their sharp claws to dig dens and to also get to any food that may be underground. 

Red foxes are the main type of fox that is domesticated. They can easily reside in places that have a dense human population, and they are most likely to scavenge through trash cans, poultry farms and nature reserves. 

Sadly, due to their comfort with humans, they are a large target for hunting and trapping. When they are more cautious, however, they will be found in the wilderness making great use of these sharp non-retractable claws. 

Fennec Fox Claws

Fennec Foxes are the foxes that reside in the North of Africa and the Sahara desert. These foxes dig elaborate burrows that form underground communities. These foxes have long, sharp, curved claws that let them do this. 

They do not only use these claws for elaborate burrowing though, they also use them to hunt down their prey such as lizards and mice. They also enjoy berries and vegetation, which they can access with their claws. 

They are vicious hunters, locating their prey and then digging it up with their extremely sharp claws. 

These foxes all have different claws, and no two foxes have the same types of claws. They are all wonderful, skilled hunters that use their claws for multiple tasks. 

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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