Fox Vs Coyote | How to Tell Them Apart


fox-vs-coyote

Foxes and coyotes are both members of the Canidae family. Because they are both wild canids, it can sometimes be hard to tell them apart. We’ve put this guide together to help you figure out if the wild canid in your area is a fox or a coyote.

Fox Vs Coyote

Foxes have bushier tails and weigh less than coyotes. Coyotes have a scruffy-looking gray or brown coat, while foxes have a wide variety of colors. Foxes have larger, pointier ears, and shorter legs than a coyote. Coyotes can be found in packs or pairs, while foxes tend to be solitary.

Foxes and coyotes are two of the most widely dispersed wild canids in the world. In many places, their paths cross, so it makes sense that someone may have trouble telling them apart. Luckily, there are traits of each that make identifying them easier.

Fox Description

To tell these two canids apart, you will need to know what each one of them looks like. The fox is much smaller than the coyote. Your average red fox weighs around 10-15 pounds. This is about the same as a large housecat.

Foxes have slightly pointier ears than coyotes, however, both have very large pointy ears. The fox’s tail is larger than a coyote’s tail and bushier. Most foxes have vertical pupils, much like cats. They are the only canids in the world to have vertical pupils.

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Image of a fox.

Foxes come in many shapes and sizes. Gray foxes may look more like coyotes because they have similar colors, but coyotes are much larger. For more about what foxes look like, view our article here.

What Does a Coyote Look Like?

Coyotes are almost twice as large as the average fox. The coyote’s fur has more gray or brown color to it. Sometimes it can look rusty-colored. Their underbellies are a lighter color and their ears usually have some black fur around the edges. Coyotes have a wide muzzle, while foxes have slimmer muzzles.

The average coyote is 3.5 by 4.5 feet long, while foxes are only about 1.5 to 3 feet long. Most coyotes have smaller tails, with black tips. Coyotes are slender, you probably won’t see a really fat one in the wild. They have long slender legs, much longer than foxes.

Image of a coyote.

The colors of the coyote can vary, which can make it hard to differentiate between these canids. There are gray, brown, black, and even reddish-colored coyotes. The main difference is the size of the two animals.

Fox Vs Coyote Sounds

These two animals make different sounds. The coyote has a screeching howl, while the fox has a wide variety of different noises. With coyotes, you will most likely hear multiple coyotes howling off in the distance since they live in packs. Coyotes have a few different sounds as well, such as barks, yips, and yaps.

You might hear two foxes talking as well, but with many different noises. The fox makes noises that sound like yelps, screeches, screams, and more. You might hear a fox, and think you’re hearing someone scream bloody murder! Their noises are quite interesting.

Both animals have high-pitched sounds, but the coyotes are much longer, while foxes are mostly short bursts. Each animal has different calls that mean different things. One screech might mean, hey, we’re waiting on our food. While another might be a call that danger is near.

Do Coyotes Have a Den?

Much like foxes, coyotes also have dens. They make their dens under large boulders, and in places where they can dig deep down. They are very adaptable and can be found close to civilization. This can be a pain for homeowners, who worry about their pets being outside at night.

Foxes also have dens, and many times the territory of the two animals will overlap. This can cause territorial disputes between the two. Both animals mark their dens and home-range with urine. Both animals have scent glands in their paws and will rub the ground and rocks, giving off their scent.

This leaves both scent and visual markings, that let other animals know that they are in the territory. The dens of the coyote are abandoned once the pups are born. The males avoid the dens and pups while they are being raised. Which can harm their survival rate.

Fox Vs Coyote Feces

Fox feces and coyote feces look similar but are usually different in size. The feces or scat of a fox is usually around two inches long, while coyote scat is up to 4 inches long. Both animal’s feces contain animal hairs and can look white.

Because they both eat many of the same things and have a very similar diet, you can find berries, hair, bones, and more in their feces. The feces of both animals have pointy, twisted ends. This is from the fur of the animals that they eat. This can help them digest sharp bones by wrapping them in fur, making it so they will not puncture their insides.

To learn more about what fox scat looks like, and how to track foxes by their scat, see our article here.

Do Foxes and Coyotes Interbreed?

Foxes and coyotes are from the same Canidae family but are of a different species and genus. This means that they cannot interbreed. They do not have compatible sets of chromosomes to produce offspring.

Even though they look a lot alike, and are related, the two can’t interbreed, and there are no known coyote/fox hybrids that have been verified by the scientific community.

How Big is a Fox Compared to a Coyote?

As previously mentioned, coyotes are larger than foxes. We’ve created this chart so you can tell the difference in size between the two.

 FoxesCoyotes
FurFox fur varies from orange, gray, tan, black, and white.Coyote fur is gray, brown, rusty, cinnamon, and white.
FaceFox’s faces are smaller, with more narrow muzzles.Coyotes have larger faces with wider muzzles.
EarsFoxes have large pointy ears, pointier than coyotes.Coyotes also have large pointy ears, that are slightly more rounded.
HeightThe red fox is 14 -20 inches tall, shoulder height.The coyote is around 24 inches tall, shoulder height.
LengthFoxes are around 1.5-3 feet long.Coyotes are 3.5  to 4.5 feet long.
WeightThe average red fox weighs 10-15 pounds.The average coyote weighs around 15-50 pounds

Which is More Dangerous Fox or Coyote?

When it comes to the level of danger each of these canids possesses, coyotes are at the top. Coyotes will snatch up your pet for a meal real quick, while foxes tend to leave household pets alone. This doesn’t mean that a fox won’t eat something like a cat if they are starving.

Coyotes prey on larger farm animals, making them much more of a threat to livestock. Foxes prey on smaller farm animals like chickens and ducks. You may be comfortable around a wild fox, but never get close to a coyote, as they can be a danger to pets and humans.

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Fox vs coyote.

Will a Coyote Kill a Fox?

Fox vs a coyote in a fight? A coyote will kill a fox. If the two came up against each other toe to toe, the fox would lose that battle, unless they got extremely lucky. Foxes and coyotes are thought to be natural enemies. The coyote is much larger than the fox and is more brutal.  

Not only will a coyote kill a fox, but they will also eat them if they are hungry enough. Most wild canids have no problem eating other canids. Even foxes will kill and eat other foxes if they are hungry enough.

Related Questions

Does fox urine attract coyotes?

Fox urine usually does not attract coyotes. Since the two are very similar, a coyote would see fox urine as a sign there are other wild canids in the area, as long as they are already established.

What is stronger a fox or a coyote?

A coyote is stronger than a fox. This is because of the size difference. Coyotes have larger and longer legs and are almost twice the size of a fox. Because of this, they are stronger.

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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