What *does* the fox say?

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I don’t know about you all, but, lately, my newsfeed has been filled with people sharing the video called “The Fox” by Norwegian group, Ylvis. The main premise: what does the fox say?

I love learning about how different animals communicate, so of course, instead of just laughing along with this video, I really started to wonder, what does the fox say?

Ylvis makes a good point: we all know what the dog, cat, cow, and even the fish (“glub,” if you were curious), say, but no one really talks about the sounds foxes make. So, I decided to figure it out.Image

Red foxes, Vulpes vulpes, are small canines that generally weigh no more than 25 pounds. An adult measures 18 inches from nose to rear, and the tail adds another 12 inches to that length. Their tails are used for balance, just like a cat’s tail, and also as a warm blanket when it’s cold.

Weird fact: foxes have whiskers on their faces, and on their legs, which they use to help them navigate unknown areas quickly and stealthily.

Red foxes can be found all over the world, and have no problem adapting to urban environments. In May 2013, a small family of foxes took up residence on my college campus. They were incredible to watch! Quiet students with good timing often caught the babies, also known as pups or kits, play fighting near their den. Kits are born with brown or gray fur, which they usually shed and replace with a pretty red coat by the time they are one month old.

Okay, now let’s get back to the real question.

Ylvis offers us many different vocalizations that the elusive fox may make:

  • “Gering-ding-ding-ding-ringerdingering”
  • “Wa-po-po-po-po-po-pow”
  • “Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho”
  • “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff”
  • “Chacha-chacha-chacha-chow”
  • “Fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow”
  • “A-hee-ahee ha-hee”
  • “A-oo-oo-oo-ooo”

Surprisingly, some of these aren’t that far off.

Just like dogs, foxes are capable of making a range of different noises: barks, yelps, whines, coughs, or – my favorite – gekkering, which is an aggressive “guttural chattering.

Red foxes also make – to be blunt – a terrifying scream that, if heard out-of-nowhere in the dark, would probably make you faint. Most sources describe it as “awful” or akin to a “person being strangled.” Very unflattering descriptions from humans, but apparently, the foxes just love it. This horrifying scream is what lures all of the gentleman foxes over to the ladies, or vixens, for mating season.

 

It is really hard to attribute this very scary shriek to the foxes’ very cute faces, so it is no wonder no one really knows what sound the fox makes!

Here, at Macaulay Library, you can listen to a few different recordings of the red fox (as well as over 9,000 other species of animals).

Listen for yourself and tell me if you think Ylvis represented the sounds of the fox accurately!

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