The overall fox footprint is oval or diamond-shaped. Foxes have four equally sized toes that appear in a triangular arrangement. Sometimes the fox’s claws are visible right above each toe. Below the toes is a heel pad print. The typical fox footprint is about 1.5 inches wide and 2 inches long. Since foxes have hair on their feet, hair might be on the track.
Since foxes are part of the Canidae family, their tracks look similar to other canines.
Whether you spot some animal tracks in your yard or on a hike, it can be challenging to identify what animal left the tracks. Use the information below to help you know if what you’re looking at has been created by a fox.
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How do I identify a fox track?
Fox tracks will differ in their appearance based on the species of fox. Red foxes, the most common fox, have furry feet and small toe pads.
Gray fox tracks have clearer imprints of the foot since gray foxes don’t have as much hair on their feet as red foxes do. Also, gray foxes have the ability to retract their claws, so their tracks will often not include claw marks.
Although gray foxes are smaller than red foxes, so their tracks will appear slightly smaller than red fox tracks.
Arctic foxes are also smaller than red foxes. They have a shorter stride due to their short legs. Since they live in snowy landscapes, their tracks can be harder to identify.
Wild animal tracks can be harder to identify in deep snow. These snowy conditions often leave arctic fox prints looking like round spots in the snow.
Use other clues, such as fox scat, to help you identify what kind of animal is nearby. Scat may be found around the tracks. Also, keep an eye out for a burrow or den, as that will be another clue of the type of animal.
How can you tell the difference between a coyote and a fox track?
Coyotes are larger animals than foxes, so coyote tracks are larger and deeper than fox tracks. Coyote tracks are about three inches long, and their footprints are deeper in the ground since coyotes weigh almost double what foxes do.
Coyote toes and footprints are larger than that of the fox. Coyote heel pads have a center lobe that bulges, while fox heel pads have a chevron shape.
Another difference between coyote and fox tracks is where it is located. Tracks found in a large, open space would more likely be a coyote than a fox.
Foxes are shy creatures that like to hide, so if the tracks are found in tall grass or another hidden area, it’s more likely a fox than a coyote. However, this is not a definite rule as coyotes will also hide.
Do foxes walk in straight lines?
A key to identifying fox tracks is that foxes walk in a straight line. Foxes direct register when walking, meaning their back paws fall almost in the exact same spot their front paws did. Other animals that direct register include cats, camels, and coyotes.
This way of walking will create a direct and narrow trail of tracks.
Foxes have excellent balance and don’t struggle to walk straight. If their tracks aren’t in a straight line, it may be because they were jumping, trotting, or galloping.
The way their tracks appear will depend on their gait, which means their way of walking. If a fox trail goes in circles, the fox may have been sick.
Often wild animals with diseases will circle aimlessly. The fox could have also been bored, stressed, or playful.
Do foxes single-track?
Since foxes walk in a straight line, they leave single file tracks. Only one set of prints for each side will be visible in their tracks. Because of this foxes have been described as a “perfect walker.”
Unlike some animals that use their energy freely, such as dogs, fox tracks show that the fox knows precisely where it is going.
Foxes don’t get distracted and don’t wander off on the way to their destination. Dog tracks will be more scattered since they don’t walk in a straight line.
What to do if you identify fox tracks around your house?
Fox tracks found on your property can be alarming. Although foxes aren’t dangerous, they can be a nuisance.
Foxes will ruin flower beds, dig through trash cans, and may create a den nearby. Because of this, if you identify fox tracks nearby, find out what attracts the fox to your yard or home and take the necessary steps to reduce that attraction.
Foxes are attracted to areas that provide food, shelter, and water. If the fox is getting food from your property, it is likely to keep returning. Foxes could be feeding on your garden, bird feeder, trash cans, and more.
Eliminating food sources will reduce your fox problem.
If your yard is overgrown, this will also attract foxes. Foxes hide in vegetation, so mowing and trimming will reduce fox visits. If you keep a pet bowl full of water outside for your pet, foxes may be drinking from it.
Installing motion-activated sprinklers and lights will scare off foxes. You could also consider installing a fence, but foxes can climb and jump fences easily.
Another option is to buy fox repellent or make your own. Foxes hate spicy smells, so you can mix water with garlic or pepper to create a fox repellent spray. This spray can be applied to the perimeters of your home.
You could also call a wildlife control center to help catch and relocate the fox.