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Where Do Foxes Sleep? | Complete Sleeping Habits Guide

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This article will discuss where foxes usually sleep and their sleeping behavior. We will also explore their habitats, other behaviors, and whether they sleep in trees or in the same place in all seasons.

Being nocturnal animals, foxes generally sleep during the day in the bush, in tall grass, and near their dens where predators cannot see them or where they can keep themselves cool during warm weather. Foxes only use their dens to raise their offspring.

A fox sleeping in grass

Sleeping Behavior of Foxes

Most foxes in the wild are nocturnal, so they sleep during the day. However, some foxes are not entirely nocturnal or crepuscular and are seen hunting during nighttime and twilight hours.

Foxes are primarily on their own and tend to avoid other animals as much as possible. They sleep outside their dens to hear an incoming predator or danger. Depending on the species and their location, foxes can sleep up to 10 hours daily.

They prefer to curl themselves up to sleep. However, foxes will seek shelter somewhere if they sense danger in their location or if they experience inclement weather.

Here are some sleeping behaviors noted for specific fox species:

  • Fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda): They sleep in underground dens near dunes that they dig during the day to protect themselves from the desert heat and keep their temperature low.
  • Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes): These fox species sleep on the thick cover and prefer to sleep on the ground if they are alone. They sleep in their dens during inclement weather and whenever they have offspring to take care of. Red foxes are also crepuscular, hunting for food at night or twilight.
  • Gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): These foxes are known to sleep in trees, especially in a bird’s nest, like a hawk’s or an owl’s.
  • Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus): They sleep in their dens deep under the snow and the ground during harsh weather conditions. Although there are days when nighttime does not exist, arctic foxes tend to sleep during the daytime. They sleep outside their dens during warmer months.
  • Cape foxes (Vulpes chama): They seek shelter in underground burrows or dense thickets during the daytime. Also considered nocturnal creatures, cape foxes are most active during the early daytime and early nighttime.
  • Foxes in urban areas: They may be found sleeping under a person’s house, his garden, or in an abandoned lot. While they still prefer sleeping during the day, they can adapt to their surroundings and be seen during the daytime. 

Do Foxes Ever Sleep in Trees?

Most fox species do not sleep in trees. However, gray and red foxes are known to sleep in trees. Gray foxes are the only species within the dog family capable of climbing trees, thanks to their specialized claws and strong, sturdy legs.

A fox walking next to a tree

Apart from sleeping, these fox species climb trees to protect themselves from potential predators and look for their food.

While red foxes are generally unable to climb trees, they can sometimes sleep on a tree’s branches, provided they can reach them. 

In this YouTube video, a red fox has been seen capable of climbing trees as it goes after flying squirrels:

Do Foxes Sleep in the Same Place During All Seasons?

Except for the arctic foxes, most fox species do not always sleep in the same place during all seasons, although they stay in a location year after year. They tend to migrate to other areas during winter to find food or seek shelter during extreme weather conditions.

As mentioned above, foxes are adaptable to changing seasons or weather conditions. They also maintain several dens within their territory, but they choose a shelter where they can raise their offspring.

Locations Where Foxes Live and Their Behaviors

Foxes are known for their adaptability to living in various habitats, depending on their location and species. This trait has helped them thrive even in harsh conditions.

Most foxes, including the red fox, are best known for inhabiting forests, woodlands, and grassland. These places give them rich and diverse food and water sources. These places also offer foxes cover to build their dens.

Some foxes, including the Tibetan fox and Blanford’s fox, live in mountainous areas that offer them a place to build their dens.

Red Foxes

The red fox is commonly found in northern North America, most of Europe and Asia, and the extreme northern parts of Africa. They have been described as cunning and intelligent for their ability to look for food even in the harshest weather conditions. While they prefer being alone, red foxes can adapt to living with humans if needed.

Their thick fur coats and fur in their paws also help them survive winter’s cold temperatures, like their relative, the arctic foxes. Red foxes also take over the dens created by arctic foxes, sometimes killing them.

Gray Foxes

The gray fox is native to North America and South America. They are seldom seen because they are active during nighttime. Gray foxes are also territorial and will spend several years in their territory, if not their whole lifetime. They can be distinguished from the red fox by the color of their tails: gray foxes have black-tipped tails, while red foxes have white tails.

Gray foxes are also known for climbing trees to prevent predators from catching them, looking for their food, and, in rare instances, raising their offspring. They also use dug dens to keep them warm during cold weather.

Fennec Foxes

Fennec foxes are known to live in one of the world’s hottest and driest places. They are also known as the world’s smallest foxes. This fox species is native throughout the Sahara Desert in Africa but can also be found in the Arabian Peninsula and Morocco. 

They rely on moisture from their prey, given the scarcity of water in the desert. Their big ears and thick hair help ease their body temperature and adjust to the weather. Fennec foxes dig their dens under the sand using their feet as it provides them with cooler temperatures amid a hot climate.

Arctic Foxes

Arctic foxes are notable for living in tundras in Europe, Asia, and North America, with freezing temperatures. Their thick fur has helped them adapt to this kind of environment. The color of their fur changes according to the season. 

They eat any animal they find, such as rodents, birds, eggs, and fish. Arctic foxes also scavenge on carcasses and feces left by larger predators. They also hoard food and tend to store body fat to survive.

Cape Foxes

Cape foxes are usually seen in sub-Saharan Africa, in the modern-day countries of Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Lesotho.

They avoid forests and like inhabiting dry savannas and semi-desert areas. They also like being alone, look for food alone, and are often on their own, even if they have a mate. 

Foxes in Urban Areas

Many foxes, including red and gray foxes, have been observed to inhabit cities, towns, and other human settlements, which they have learned to adapt to live. These foxes build their dens under sheds, tree roots, or anywhere they feel safe. They also take shelter in abandoned buildings.

Foxes in urban areas take full advantage of their crepuscular nature as people in these areas are usually asleep. These foxes eat rats they find in their shelter and scavenge garbage bins for scrap food. They also eat the available vegetation near their dens and depend on humans to provide them with food.

How To Identify a Fox Den

Most people believe foxes sleep in their dens, but as mentioned above, fox dens are primarily used to store their food and raise their offspring. While that’s the case, foxes will occasionally sleep in their den.

They create their dens by digging into the earth and building a tunnel that leads to numerous areas. Foxes also like their dens to be located near a water source like a river or a stream.

Usually found in forests and woodlands, fox dens can be challenging to identify. But you can spot them by the size of the hole, the foot traffic they left in front of the hole, and its smell. Foxes use their urine and feces to mark their territories. You can also identify a fox den if there are heavily scraped logs that have not been ripped.

If you want to learn more about the appearance of a fox den, please check my article here.

Final Thoughts

Foxes like sleeping in the open with their tail curled up so they can hear if there is incoming danger. They create their dens by digging into the ground to protect themselves from predators, extreme heat, or cold. Urban foxes will take advantage of any sleeping area as long as it can hide them sufficiently. 

Except for the gray fox, most foxes cannot climb trees and, therefore, cannot sleep in them unless they have an easy access point. Foxes tend to stay in their territory but may migrate elsewhere to seek a warmer climate or a more abundant food source.

For more, check out What’s a Fox Den Look Like? (How to Find One).

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