Foxes are interesting creatures. Most foxes mate for life and can produce many litters throughout their lives. We’re going to take a look at the mating habits and behavior of foxes and how they can be different from other animals.
The mating season for foxes occurs in December through February. In January foxes from previous litters disperse and go off on their own. This is when the parents will start to mate again. When foxes breed they have mating calls that sound like loud cries. The babies are born in the spring.
Not all species of foxes breed at the same time of the year, but most of them breed during the winter months and have their babies in the spring. In the wild, during the winter months, you can hear foxes making loud screeching noises, this is their love calls/mating calls.
How Long Do Foxes Mate For?
Foxes have been known to be monogamous, meaning they mate for life. Foxes live in pairs, the vixen (female) and the tod fox (male.) Usually, a dominant male fox will choose the dominant female fox to mate with. The two will spend their lives together, having multiple litters throughout their lives.
It is thought by many that if the vixen dies, the male will stay single for the rest of his life. However, if the male dies, the female will most likely find another mate, and keep producing litters. Sometimes females from previous litters will stick around to help raise the new litter, like nannies.
Why Do Foxes Scream When They Mate?
Around October, foxes begin to get a case of the crazies. They start to become much more vocal, their behavior starts to get more aggressive, and their scent glands start to produce a more thick and heavy smell. This can last until they are done mating.
When two foxes get locked together and begin mating, they start to scream unpleasant sounds. Many believe this process is not something they enjoy, because of the amount of stress in their voices. They usually stay locked together for an hour or more.
After they have mated, the female vixen begins to prepare her natal den. Most female foxes will choose a special den to raise their young. These are called natal or maternity dens. Most foxes do not use their dens for sleeping, they use them primarily for raising their kits (baby foxes.) Read more here.
Foxes Mating Season
The mating season for most foxes starts in December and can last through February. The foxes who mate in winter, have their babies in the spring. They have a short gestation period of around 45-50 days. Read more about fox pregnancy here.
Foxes that mate in December have their kits around February or March, while those who mate later in the season have their kits in April or even May. Arctic foxes mate much later, usually in March or early April. They have their kits around May or June.
Why Do Foxes Get Stuck Together When Mating?
Foxes mate very similar to the way dogs mate. They get locked together or “stuck.” They mate in the tail-to-tail position. This is called a tie, or a copulatory lock. It usually lasts for about an hour, and sometimes can go longer. They are very noisy when mating and will make some terrifying screams.
Being stuck together can be a little bit stressful for animals. Once they are confident that the deed has been done, they will unlock. Male foxes only produce sperm during their mating season. Female foxes only get their estrous cycle for about one week, this is when their hormones make them ready to breed.
Arctic foxes breed later in the year because foxes that live in northern climates get their estrous cycle a few months later.
Red Foxes Mating
The red fox is the most common fox. Red foxes are bigger than most other fox species. Mating season for red foxes usually starts in January. They have their kits sometime in March or April. Red fox females are sexually mature at just 10 months, and most foxes start breeding at one year old.
Red foxes give birth to 2-12 kits per litter. The baby foxes are born a brown or dark color, then later they molt and start to get the color of their parents. Read more about red fox babies here.
Arctic Foxes Mating
Arctic foxes live mostly in the northern hemisphere where it is extremely cold. Some arctic foxes migrate into Canada, where they give birth inside of their natal dens, prepared in areas that are slightly less cold. For arctic foxes, mating starts around the end of March and into April.
Their gestation period is 49-57 days. The babies are often born a brown or charcoal color. Later they either take on the white morph or the blue color morph, which is a charcoal gray.
Fennec Foxes Mating
Fennec foxes live in desert regions and are the smallest of all of the fox species. The mating season arrives in January and February. During this time the male fennec foxes start to get aggressive. After mating, they have their kits around March and April.
Their gestation is around 50 days. The litters consist of about 2-5 kits. Fennec foxes can sometimes combine families and have large family units. Their dens can be complex with many entrances.
Gray Foxes Mating
Gray foxes pair up and find their mates in the fall, and start breeding in the winter months. In the later winter months, males become aggressive, looking for a mate to breed with, with some competition. Most foxes are monogamous, but the gray fox has been known to form polygamy relationships and even polyandry (although this is rare.)
The gestation period for gray foxes is around 53 days and they have litters of 4-6 kits. Gray foxes mate in January and up to May. Most litters are born in March and April, but those who breed later, give birth in the later months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Foxes can not mate with domestic dogs or any other wild canids. Foxes do not share the same number of chromosomes as other canids, making it impossible for them to produce offspring.
Foxes mate once per year, although in rare cases, such as with fennec foxes if the litter does not make it, they may mate a second time. Animals in nature do what they have to, to survive.
In some cases, hybrid foxes do exist. Arctic foxes can mate with red foxes, however, the offspring will be sterile and will not be able to produce their own offspring.
Mating season can cause some wild behavior in foxes. The males start to see other male foxes as competition and will get aggressive. After mating season their behavior starts to return to normal.