Healthy foxes do NOT attack humans at night – in fact, fox attacks on humans at any time of day or night are very uncommon. There has always been an underlying cause to blame in the rare cases where foxes have attacked humans.
Do foxes attack humans at night? We are going to answer this and other questions in detail. Questions including:
- Why don’t foxes attack humans?
- What do foxes do when they encounter humans?
- What causes nocturnal fox attacks when they do happen?
- Do fox attacks happen during the day?
Why Don’t Foxes Attack Humans?
Foxes are not at the top of the food chain in their ecosystem, so they must be continually wary of potential predators.
Young foxes are preyed upon regularly by coyotes and eagles, and adult foxes are preyed upon by mountain lions, bears, and wolves.
In addition to wild predators, foxes also face human predation. Humans hunt these Canidae species for their pelts and because people label them as pests.
Foxes are opportunistic hunters, and they often make a nuisance out of themselves by stealing chickens from farmland or knocking over and rummaging through trashcans.
When necessary, foxes depend on sharp claws and teeth to protect themselves and their young, but these limited defenses make it much more likely that a fearful fox will run when faced with danger.
When faced with larger predators – like humans – running is the fox’s preferred method of escape, something made easier because of their stealthy, slender build that makes it easier to slip through small fence gaps and slide around corners.
What Do Foxes Do When They Encounter Humans?
There are three possible outcomes when foxes encounter humans – the fox will run, the fox will approach with caution, or the fox will approach brazenly.
A healthy, wild fox will turn tail and run when encountering a human. If you run into a fox and it runs from you, it will stop and look back multiple times while running to ensure that you are not following. In this situation, let the fox leave and do not follow!
A fox will approach with caution with the expectation of food if it has been partially or fully tamed and has come to rely on humans for food. If you encounter a fox that approaches you cautiously, be wary.
First, visually assess the fox for any signs of illness and if you see none, ignore the animal, do not make eye contact, and get to a place of safety. DO NOT feed this fox. Feeding will only encourage this animal to continue to return for food.
Give a wide berth to a fox that approaches brazenly. There is a slim likelihood that this fox was raised in captivity and is not afraid of humans, but it is more likely that this fox is suffering from an illness. Various illnesses can cause this behavior, but the most common is rabies.
Symptoms of rabies in a wild fox include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Staggering or walking strangely
- Partial paralysis
If a fox approaches you brazenly, if possible, put something between you and the animal (a large stick, a piece of cardboard, etc.) and get to a place of safety as quickly as you can. Make it your priority to get to a safe place. Once in a safe place, call your local animal control and inform them that a wild fox is acting abnormally.
Not every sick fox is rabid – some foxes have mange and are simply desperate and malnourished. Regardless, it is better to use caution when any wild animal acts strangely and/or approaches you and let the professionals take care of the situation with the proper precautions in place.
How Often Do Foxes Encounter Humans?
Wild foxes are elusive nocturnal creatures and are rarely active during daylight except during mating season or during dawn and dusk hours when hunting.
As humans continue to encroach on fox territory, though, foxes have no choice but to coexist. This shift undoubtedly leads to more frequent encounters between foxes and humans.
What Causes Nocturnal Fox Attacks When They Do Happen?
Foxes usually suffer from a mind-altering illness like rabies when they attack humans.
The other instance when a fox may attack a human is if it feels cornered and has no way out. When foxes get cornered this way, they can snap and bite as they fight to get free.
Do Fox Attacks Happen During the Day?
A fox with rabies can attack during daylight or nighttime hours.
Conclusion / Summary
Fox attacks on humans are exceedingly rare, but when they do happen, it can be day or night, and it is almost always because the fox is cornered with no way out or is suffering from a debilitating illness like rabies.