Can Foxes See In The Dark? | Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (2023)

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Foxes can see in the dark and have excellent night vision. They have a special membrane behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum. This reflects light back onto their retina, enhancing their vision in low-light circumstances.

This gives them excellent night vision to catch prey and avoid predators.

Foxes are nocturnal animals, meaning they’re most active at night. Hence, they need good night vision to hunt.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the nocturnal nature of foxes, as well as how their night vision works.

Can Foxes See in the Dark?

Yes, foxes can see very well in the dark, but they do need some light. They are great nighttime hunters, partly due to their ability to see when there’s practically no light present.

Foxes are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active during the nighttime. Their main activities, such as hunting, take place between sunset and sunrise.

Since being able to hunt efficiently can mean the difference between life and death for a predator like a fox.

It’s important to note, that no animal can see in the dark. A little light needs to be present, which will be enhanced by elements in their eyes.

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (1)

How Far Can a Fox See in the Dark?

While it’s known that foxes have great night vision, it’s now known how far they can see. They have great eyesight in general, as good as cats.

It’s believed that cats can see a bit worse than humans, comparatively around 20/100 to 20/200, meaning a cat (or fox) has to be within 20 feet of an object to see it as well as humans form 100 feet.

This is expected to be a bit worse at night, but still much better than humans’ ability to see at night.

(Video) Fox's point of View at night 360° - Planet Earth II: Cities - BBC One'

How Do Foxes See at Night?

Foxes can see in the dark because of their tapetum lucidum. The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue that sits behind the retina and reflects visible light back through it. This increases visual acuity two-fold.

In other words, the tapetum lucidum allows for visual pigments to absorb very low-intensity light twice.

Visual Acuity is the clarity or sharpness of vision. [1]

This means they can pick up on subtle movements during low illumination levels much better than other animals can.

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (2)

The Tapetum Lucidum

The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue in the eye that reflects light onto the retina [2]. This way, foxes can absorb even more light than humans can with their photoreceptor rods.

Rod cells are photoreceptor cells that help to see in dim light. The more rod cells, the better night vision.

In addition to this awesome structure, foxes also use what call “visual pathways” when they are hunting or exploring at night.

These paths include information about depth perception as well as visual images from past experiences on how to navigate around obstacles.

When foxes’ eyes are exposed to light, it’s reflected back. This is why their eyes glow at night, much like dogs or wolves.

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (3)

How Do Foxes Navigate at Night?

Foxes use a combination of different factors when navigating around at night:

  • Their excellent night vision
  • Their great sense of smell
  • Their sense of hearing

As stated, foxes have great night vision, mostly due to the tapetum lucidum. Their eyes are exposed to more light since this reflective layer sends light particles back out through the eye.

(Video) Why Do Foxes Scream At Night? Y tho?

Second, foxes have a great sense of smell. They can use this to guide them by referencing smells to those they already know.

Lastly, they also have great hearing. Foxes can use this to find prey or to avoid predators.

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (4)

What Do Foxes Do at Night?

Foxes are primarily nocturnal animals. This means that their activity level is higher at nighttime than it is in the daytime. They hunt, mate, and mark their territories at night.

However, just because foxes aren’t active does not mean that they sleep all of the time either.

The majority of a fox’s nighttime activities include:

  • Hunting for food
  • Mating with other members of its species
  • Marking territories using scent markers
  • Digging dens
  • Roaming around looking for possible predators like coyotes or bobcats
  • Resting in their dens

While foxes are considered nocturnal, it’s not uncommon to see foxes roaming around during the day as well.

Are Foxes Nocturnal?

Yes, foxes are primarily considered nocturnal animals, yet they still venture out during the day. Some foxes may display diurnal (active during the day) or crepuscular (active during dusk and dawn) behavior.

Related: When are foxes most active?

Do Foxes Have Good Eyesight?

Foxes have great eyesight, much like cats. Foxes’ eyes are small slits, making them more cat-like than dog-like. This also applies to their field of vision, which is 260-degrees.

Most predators, such as wolves, will have a smaller field of vision (wolves have a field of vision of 180 degrees).

A small field of vision provides predators the ability to focus better on moving objects. This is seen in wolves, lions, and similar predators. These animals will have eyes facing frontwards.

A wide field of vision is often seen in prey animals, such as birds or deer. They need a wider vision to easily spot predators that are sneaking up to them.

(Video) Do foxes come out at night or day?

Related: Are foxes colorblind?

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (5)

Do Foxes Come Out During the Day?

While foxes are considered mainly as nocturnal animals, they also exhibit diurnal or crepuscular habits. This means that they are active during the day, or during dusk and dawn.

However, it is not unusual to see foxes wandering about during the day as well.

Foxes are very opportunistic hunters and eat what is readily or easily available for them in their territory. If their food source (small birds, rodents, smaller animals) are diurnal or active during the day, the foxes may hunt them during the day.

There are also times that a family of foxes and their new kits would be seen traveling during the day when they would transfer or look for a new den.

Foxes are wary of human interaction and will most likely leave you alone if you meet one during the day. You must, however, always keep your guard up and observe the behavior of the fox that’s active during the day as they may be rabid.

Can Foxes See In The Dark? |Do Foxes Have Night Vision? (6)

Do Foxes Like the Dark?

Whether foxes like the dark is unknown, but they prefer to roam around, hunt, and conduct other activities during the night. This is simply due to their nocturnal behavior.

Due to their great sense of smell, hearing, and ability to see well in the dark, they’re very effective nighttime predators. As most of their prey is either sleeping or inactive at night, this makes hunting easier.

In the case of urban foxes, they mostly come out at night to avoid humans. Most urban neighborhoods become quiet at night when people sleep. Hence, there’ll be fewer people around at night.

Humans are a natural enemy of the fox, hence foxes have learned that it’s best to avoid them.

(Video) Nocturnal Foxes | Video | Foxes Hunt at Night


Foxes have great night vision, one of the best within the Canidae family (wolves, dogs, coyotes, jackals, and foxes). They have a reflective layer in their eyes, called the tapetum lucidum.

This reflective layer sens light back out through their eyes, letting light pigments absorb light twice, instead of just once light humans eyes.

Foxes come out during dusk hours but will sometimes come out during daytime hours too if there is a food source available for them to eat at that time.

They mainly roam about at night looking for food, mates, predators, or dens where they rest or sleep.


Do Foxes Have Night Vision?

Yes, foxes have great night vision. They’re typically nocturnal, meaning they venture out at night. Their night vision helps them hunt better at night. This is due to the tapetum lucidum, as a reflective layer in their eyes. This is also what makes their eyes glow at night.

Can Foxes See in the Day?

Yes, foxes can see in the day. Just because they have great night vision, doesn’t mean they can’t see during the day. They’re great at tracking pray during the day. The structure of the cells in their eyes helps them regulate the entry of bright light.


  • Can Foxes See in the Dark?
  • How Do Foxes See at Night?
  • How Do Foxes Navigate at Night?
  • What Do Foxes Do at Night?
  • Do Foxes Have Good Eyesight?
  • Do Foxes Come Out During the Day?
  • Do Foxes Like the Dark?
  • Conclusion
  • FAQs


Can foxes see in the dark? ›

Foxes are great night-time predators because their eyes are specially adapted to night vision. Behind the light sensitive cells lies another layer called the tapetum lucidum which reflects light back through the eye.

What does a foxes vision look like? ›

Foxes possess dichromatic (two-colour) vision that essentially makes them red-green colour blind. The result is that foxes probably see the world in more pastel shades than vibrant colour.

How good is a foxes eyesight? ›

The fox has an excellent short-range vision. This can be seen by how quickly they move through woodland, under fences, through gates, through scrub and forests when disturbed. Tests indicate that foxes see the same color range as dogs. This means they cannot see green, not able to tell it from red or yellow.

Do Red Foxes have night vision? ›

Red foxes even look similar to some of your favorite pets. They're canines, which are relatives of dogs, wolves, and coyotes. But in some ways, they're actually more like cats. They have long whiskers, retractable claws, and excellent night vision.

What happens if a fox sees you? ›

Do foxes attack humans? Foxes are not dangerous and do not attack humans, except when they are rabid, which is very rare, or when they are captured and handled. Even then, a fox's natural tendency is to flee rather than fight.

Are fox afraid of light? ›

Foxes love the darkness. The last thing they will want is a bright light suddenly and unexpectedly switching on. You can install motion activated outdoor lights that are cheap and easy to install. They also have the great added bonus of deterring burglars.

How do foxes see humans? ›

They often seem unable to recognize us when we are standing still but will see us as soon as we move. Foxes seem to have better short-range vision, allowing them to run through fields and bushes without too many problems. However, they do not appear to be able to see long distances.

Do foxes have feelings? ›

We have much in common with wolves, coyotes, red foxes, and domestic dogs. These social species - and other animals - have emotional lives, can experience emotions such as joy and grief.

What is a fox afraid of? ›

Bold foxes can be scared away by loud noises, water hoses, water guns and thrown objects, says the Humane Society. They also advise contacting your local “animal control agency, police department or health department” if a fox shows signs of rabies, mange or if your pet is bitten by a fox.

Is a fox smarter than a dog? ›

Foxes are very smart in ways that matter: finding food, surviving in weather extremes, outwitting predators, protecting their young. They're smarter than most, but not all, dog breeds. Here's an example of their cleverness: There's a fox rescue organization that sometimes scatters slices of bread in a nearby field.

What do foxes think of dogs? ›

Foxes do not usually see dogs as prey, but both animals are carnivores and may fight over food, if they come into contact with one another.

Do foxes cry at night? ›

It can be unnerving to hear a fox screaming at night, but it's a completely normal sound. They are not distressed or in pain, they might have just found a mate!

Are foxes scared of dark? ›

A less invasive way to keep away foxes is to leave a light on in your garden. Foxes enjoy the comfort of darkness and will avoid any well-lit areas.

Do dogs have night vision? ›

Obviously, his stronger sense of smell is useful, but it's also because dogs can see movement and light in the dark, and other low-light situations, better than humans. They are assisted by the high number of light-sensitive rods within the retina of their eyes. Rods collect dim light, supporting better night vision.

What to do if a fox follows you? ›

Yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, stomp your feet—make your presence felt, but do not approach or chase the animal.

Do foxes get scared of humans? ›

Foxes are scared of humans as we are their biggest predators. Foxes would not bite a human unless cornered and attacked. An overly tame fox may have been previously kept as a pet or may be ill with toxoplasmosis which makes the fox lose their instinctual fear.

What happens if a fox bites you? ›

Fox bites are painful and can get infected if they are not cleaned properly. Since the pests are known carriers of several diseases, including rabies, their bites also carry the threat of transmission.

Are foxes afraid of dogs? ›

Fox attacks on dogs are rare because these animals try to evade conflict. However, they will defend themselves against a dog if cornered. Adult cats are usually safe, but a fox may hunt and prey on kittens.

What is fox biggest enemy? ›

Predators. Young red foxes are primarily preyed upon by eagles and coyotes. Mature red foxes can be attacked by larger animals, including bears, wolves and mountain lions. Humans are the most significant predator of adult foxes, who are often hunted for fur or killed because they are considered pests.

Are foxes scared of cats? ›

Cats and foxes will usually ignore each other. However, some cats are aggressive animals and will go for a fox, sometimes to drive it away from their garden or food bowl. Usually a fox will flee but if this is not practical and particularly if it is cornered, it may defend itself against the cat.

Can a fox smell a human? ›

Urban foxes differ from their country cousins due to their ability to thrive in very small territories that are usually in close proximity to humans. While urban foxes are still scared of us if we get too close, they have adapted well to living alongside us and are used to seeing, hearing and smelling humans.

Will a fox let you stroke it? ›

Please do NOT hand-feed or stroke a wild fox! This is not in the fox's interest but puts them in grave danger. “When you hand-feed a fox you train them to associate a human hand with food.” says Professor Dawn Scott, the UK's leading fox expert.

Do foxes fall in love? ›

Do Foxes Fall in Love? Quite simply, Yes. It is scientifically proven that animals experience empathy, affection and attachment, (though the scientific community may continue to debate the full details). Love is chemistry, a force of nature experienced by all.

What do foxes love the most? ›

The bulk of a fox's diet is made up of meat protein, so the best things to feed your local foxes are cooked or raw meat, or tinned dog food. They are also fond of peanuts, fruit and cheese. Foxes can be fed all year round but should follow a set feeding routine.

How can you tell if a fox is male or female? ›

The first, and by far the most straightforward and obvious, is to look for the cream-coloured fur of the scrotum (which identifies a male) or the teats of a lactating female; these features are, however, not always apparent, being prominent only during the breeding and cub-rearing seasons, respectively.

Are foxes lonely? ›

Do foxes live alone or in groups? Foxes live in social groups – three or four adults are quite common (though 10 were recorded in one Bristol group). These consist of equal numbers of dogs and vixens. Generally, only one vixen breeds, but occasionally up to three do.

Do foxes cry out? ›

If you've ever heard a pained cry in the dead of night that sounds like a woman screaming, then you've probably heard a female fox (or 'vixen') letting a male (or 'dog') fox know that she is ready to mate (listen here). These screams are often answered by the 'hup-hup-hup' bark of the dog fox.

Why are foxes not scared of humans? ›

They are probably used to being fed by humans and have come to associate human presence with the availability of food and, hence, are unafraid to approach you. Even at that, noises like whistling and shooing should make them retreat.

Do foxes leave gifts? ›

Foxes deposit their gifts as a way of marking a trail, food or territory. Raccoons like to create gift galleries, also known as latrines, thus they repeatedly go in the same place. When handling these gifts, be sure to protect yourself.

What is the enemy of a fox? ›

Bears, mountain lions, eagles, and wolves eat foxes. Animals like bears, mountain lions, birds like eagles, certain reptiles, wolves, and lynxes eat foxes. As for reptiles, only boas and pythons conveniently eat foxes because of their large body sizes – other snakes generally cannot feed on animals the size of foxes.

Who would win a fox or a dog? ›

Dogs have more muscle and endurance than foxes. Dogs have the advantage of having more muscular bodies than foxes. While both are canines, dogs have superior bite strength. Stronger jaws, more muscle, and high endurance give dogs the advantage one-on-one.

Can a fox mate with a dog? ›

Short answer: no, they can't. They simply don't have compatible parts. (Of course, that doesn't mean they can't be friends: witness Juniper the Fox and Moose the Dog, above). The longer answer to why dog-fox hybrids can't exist has to do with the two species having vastly different numbers of chromosomes.

Are foxes closer to cats or dogs? ›

Foxes are a part of the Canidae family of animals, which makes them canines. They are closely related to domestic dogs and wolves. The canine family also includes coyotes, jackals, and even raccoons! Canines, also called canids, are characterized by their slender build, long legs, bushy tails, and long muzzles.

Do foxes remember who feeds them? ›

In some cases, the fox may become very familiar with the feeding regime. One fox I had the pleasure of watching in West Sussex, many years ago now, was known to wait under the same tree at a specified time every night for the owner of an adjacent house to supply her a supper of dog food.

How do you get a fox to trust you? ›

It takes patience, consistency, and time for a fox to trust and bond with you. You can do this by talking to them and imitating their sounds. Not all foxes like being touched or petted. Learn their personality and adjust your interactions accordingly.

Has a fox ever attacked a human? ›

Summary. Fox “attacks”, usually minor bites, on people are extremely rare and, generally speaking, foxes are not a threat to humans. The number of attacks on cats and dogs each year is unknown, but seem to be of only minor significance relative to attacks on each other (i.e. dog on cat, or cat on cat).

How do you tell if a fox likes you? ›

Through ears, tail, facial expression and posture, a fox very clearly shows his intentions. While a wild swinging tail is an obvious sign of threat, a cheerful waggling tail indicates enthusiasm. A horizontal positioned tail, with the tip raised tells this fox is in for some sweet fox loving.

What does it mean when a fox barks at you? ›

Male red foxes make noises similar to the sound of a screaming woman to warn off competing mates. Female red fox sounds consist of short, shrill shrieks that are meant to attract males. Gray foxes make dog-like barking noises used for self-defense.

Are foxes in pain when they scream? ›

No, the usual screaming sound that a fox makes is not due to distress or pain (even though it does sound like that) but it is a sound they make to ward off potential predators and threats.

What does it mean if a fox is crying? ›

Foxes make various noises for different reasons, but the scream is usually made around the breeding season. Screams are used to confirm territory between rival foxes. The females also make this screaming call around the time of and during mating.

Do foxes fight to the death? ›

Fights are relatively common among foxes, but fights to the death are rare. One study of fox corpses by Bristol University found that only about 5% had died as a result of combat with other foxes, most during winter in the midst of the breeding season.

Will a fox keep coming back? ›

While there's a chance it was just passing through, you're likely to see foxes return time and time again if: There's a water source such as a pond, fountain, swimming pool, puddles or a pet's water bowl. There's a food source such as bins, pet food or you're feeding other wildlife such as birds or hedgehogs.

Do foxes scream like humans? ›

Frantic screams

The loudest and most prominent sound made by foxes is the scream or contact call, typically used by vixens, or females, when they are ready to breed in the late winter and spring, Harris told LiveScience. This "blood-curdling" call "sounds a bit like somebody being murdered," he said.

What color do dogs see humans? ›

Human eyes have three types of cones that can identify combinations of red, blue, and green. Dogs possess only two types of cones and can only discern blue and yellow - this limited color perception is called dichromatic vision.

Why do dogs lick you? ›

Licking is a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs. For them it's a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help soothe themselves if they're stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them!

Can dogs see TV? ›

Domestic dogs can perceive images on television similarly to the way we do, and they are intelligent enough to recognize onscreen images of animals as they would in real life—even animals they've never seen before—and to recognize TV dog sounds, like barking.

Do foxes stay away from light? ›

Bishop tells us: 'Foxes hate light. They will often get spooked and run away if any sudden lighting appears. I strongly recommend investing in a sensitive motion sensor light (opens in new tab) and attach it close to where the fox often goes. It's a very effective way to deter them from your garden.

What do foxes do at night? ›

Foxes are nocturnal and hunt during the night but they do sometimes venture out during the day.

How do you scare foxes at night? ›

Here are five of the best fox deterrent methods:
  1. Mark Your Territory. Scent marking (usually with urine) is one of the number one ways foxes know which areas are free to claim as territory and which patches already belong to someone. ...
  2. Tidy Up. ...
  3. Check Your Bins. ...
  4. Feed Pets Indoors. ...
  5. Use Flashing Lights & Sprinklers.
19 Jul 2018

What is the fox afraid of? ›

Bold foxes can be scared away by loud noises, water hoses, water guns and thrown objects, says the Humane Society. They also advise contacting your local “animal control agency, police department or health department” if a fox shows signs of rabies, mange or if your pet is bitten by a fox.

Are foxes scared of dogs? ›

Do Foxes Attack Dogs or Cats? Fox attacks on dogs are rare because these animals try to evade conflict. However, they will defend themselves against a dog if cornered. Adult cats are usually safe, but a fox may hunt and prey on kittens.

What to do if a fox approaches you? ›

If in their curiosity they approach you, clap and shout to scare them away. You want to teach them that humans are a danger and to avoid us. For pets, keep them on a leash to avoid any encounters. Keeping pets under our control while outdoors is always our advice to avoid conflicts with wildlife.

Where do foxes go when it rains? ›

Raccoons, Foxes, Mice, Rabbits, and other small mammals: Mammals that live underground will hide in their dens. They construct dens so they will not flood, which lets wildlife shelter at home during a heavy storm. Some small mammals hide in logs.

What sounds do foxes hate? ›

Know what they don't like

It would help if you made your garden less appealing for foxes to visit. Foxes hate sudden movement and loud noises.

Why do dogs hate foxes? ›

The Root of the Behavior

They are also difficult to potty train, and they only live 2-4 years, compared to a dog's 10-14 years. Additionally, foxes are not nearly as affectionate towards humans as your loving Baxter. They also have a nasty scent, which is not appealing to dogs.

What will attract a fox? ›

Foxes favor strong-smelling or super sweet foods like fish (fresh or canned), chicken, meat, and sugar-coated vegetables.


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