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What DOES the Fox Say?
What Does the Fox Say?
The Hit Video
The inspiration behind my exploration of the fox began when I saw the music video, "What Does the Fox Say?" by the Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis. These brothers, turned comedy team, created the song in order to promote their television show. The music video went viral and after watching it I began to wonder about the fox, fox symbolism, how the fox is related to the dog and, of course, what sound they make. What I found is an amazingly adaptable and clever animal totally deserving of our respect and awe.
What is a Fox?
A fox is a member of the Canidae family which also includes dogs, wolves, jackals and coyotes1. Foxes weigh around 11 pounds and the most well known are the Red Foxes. The Red Fox is red, with black paws and a white tummy. The fox feeds on rodents, rabbits, birds and other small game. In the wild they typically live three years, but if kept in captivity, they can live up to ten, maybe even longer2! Males are called dogs, tods, or reynards and females are called vixens, while the babies are named kits3. Usually the females live alone and only allow the males to come into their den when it is mating season, from there the male is either kicked out or permitted to help with some early kit raising. The known predators of the fox are coyotes, grey wolves, bears, and mountain lions.
Foxes are cunning animals, and have survived despite the increase of the human population. They have been able to thrive in urban areas by eating out of trash cans (and possibly the small rodents which are attracted to that same trash). There is no need to worry of fox attacks, though, foxes are indeed frightened of humans, dogs and even children. However, with any scared wild animal there is always a risk of getting bitten, and foxes are known to carry rabies, just like raccoons! So if you see one in your back yard, remember it is not a dog, foxes and dogs are actually quite different, as we will see.
Similar but not the Same!
What is the difference between dogs and foxes?
With their big round eyes, pointed ears, long muzzle and cute little paws, it's easy to forget that a fox is not a dog, not even close really. Dogs are very social animals. They hunt together, sleep together, eat together and raise their young together. Foxes, however, are solitary animals for the most part hunt alone and raise their young alone (at the insistence of the female). They are also nocturnal. Genetically speaking, foxes and dogs have too many differing chromosomes in order to even mate successfully, unlike wolves and dogs4. Actually, if you mixed dogs and foxes together they would not only prefer not to mate, but they would also form two separate rival-packs. Foxes have more of a cat-like personality and lifestyle; from the food they eat to the way they socialize, there is even a fox out there named Urocyon cinereiarargenteus or "Tree Fox" because of their ability to climb trees5.
Foxes Have a Rich History
Which is your favorite member of the Canidae family?
What does history say about the fox?
In many cultures around the world, the fox represents cunningness, trickery, magic, and resourcefulness. Many stories depict the fox as the underdog, because of his small size, but because the fox choses to use his brain instead of his bronze, he usually comes out the winner! Here are some famous foxy characters from folklore and fairytales:
-In Japan there were believed to be magical beings called, kitsune. These creatures were foxlike and possessed many tails (the more tails the more powerful they were) sometimes up to nine! Kitsune were mostly characterized by being mischievous tricksters, but at other times, they were made to look like magical guardian angels to the deserving.
-In The Fox and the Crow from Aesop's Fables, a fox sees a crow with a delicious looking piece of cheese and flatters the crow so he opens his mouth and drops the cheese right to the tricky fox.
-In Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, a fox and his family live under a tree on a farm owned by not so good farmers. The farmers tire of Mr. Fox stealing food from them, so they devise a plan to trap the Fox family in their burrow. Using his keen intellect Mr. Fox figures a way out of his hole, without the farmers noticing, and proceeds to steal food from the neighbors and saves his family and the other underground animals.
-In the Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix, a young fox and hound become fast friends and their friendship is tested over the years by the different expectations set before them. In the book everyone dies and it is horribly sad, but in the Disney cartoon the fox and the hound's friendship proves true and they end up loving each other from afar in order to keep each other safe.
-In the Bible, foxes are described as more of a nuisance: "Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom" Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV)
-In ancient China it was believed foxes could take human form
-In Peru there is a fox god
Different Sounds of the Fox
What does the fox sound like?
The sounds of the fox are eerie and majestic. As you listen to the video you will notice there is some similarity to the fox and the dog's sounds, but with the fox you can almost hear the wisdom in his voice and the secrets he'll never tell. There really is a mystery to the sound, just as the song suggests. Here is a wonderful YouTube video with the sounds of the fox!
What does the fox say?
I believe if the fox could speak to us he would say to never underestimate ourselves, to use our brains instead of physical strength in fights (or when in any kind of peril), to be focused and determined, adapt to changes and to stay up late! These creatures have beat the odds in life. In their own genetic family they are the smallest and fall prey to even their own relatives, but they survive. Foxes were hunted down for sport in early England, but still they survived. Now their habitat is being moved in on by us humans, and they survive. These creatures tell me to be wise, accept and work with my own limitations and to, always, be crazy like a fox!
1 wildlifeonline.me.uk.(2013).Red Fox.Retrieved December 18, 2013 from http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html
2-3 livescience.com.(2013).Fun fact about Foxes.Retrieved December 18, 2013 from http://www.livescience.com/27168-foxes.html
4-5 ozfoxes.com. (2013).All about Foxes!.Retrieved December 18, 2013 from http://www.ozfoxes.com/aafoxes.html