Red Foxes Can’t Climb Trees (Short Answer)
If you are able to bend a 10 mm thick steel bar with your hands, can it be said that you are able to bend steel bars? No…
It is the same case with the issue of red foxes being able to climb trees, despite the large number of comments and statements I was able to collect claiming that red foxes can climb trees, which is simply incorrect or misunderstood.
Red foxes cannot climb trees, only gray foxes have this ability, but there are very important physical characteristics between these two species of foxes. All large canids, including wolves and coyotes, are excellent climbers and have the ability to jump as well, the red fox has these abilities, but this does not mean that it can climb trees.
There may be cases in which a red fox can climb a tree if it has branches very close to the ground within the fox’s jumping range, or if the tree trunk has an inclination where the fox does not have to make much effort to climb.
For example, in Europe, red foxes are able to hunt and eat some small climbing mammals such as the koala, this is possible because trees such as eucalyptus have multiple strong, sloping branches that are easy to climb.
But really, a vertical tree, with a thick trunk and without any branches at the bottom would be impossible for a red fox to climb, as opposed to the gray fox, which is capable of climbing this type of tree.
A red fox could not catch a squirrel climbing a tree, he might try to propel himself up the tree a couple of meters, but he could not climb vertically, much less at the speed and agility that a squirrel can have.
Why can’t red foxes climb trees?
Unlike the gray fox, the red fox cannot climb trees basically because it is a much heavier canid and because its paws and claws do not have the necessary characteristics to fully climb a tree.
An adult gray fox weighs on average 3.8 kg, while a red fox can weigh up to 14 kg, the difference in weight is abysmal, apart from this. Grey foxes have barbed and strong paws and can climb trees like cats. Sometimes grey foxes build nests in trees.
Apart from this, the diet of the red fox is based mostly on small terrestrial animals such as rabbits, hares, squirrels, mice, rats, and other small mammals that are within the fox’s reach on land. Gray foxes, besides eating small mammals, include a large number of fruits and shrubs in their diets, which makes them much more likely to climb trees.
But the main feature that prevents a red fox from climbing trees with ease is actually its weight and that its claws do not have the mechanism to hold them easily in the trees.
Despite this, red foxes are very agile and their ability to adapt is excellent, a fox can propel itself with the strength of its hind legs and with the help of its front legs can climb walls and branches of trees up to 2 meters high.
Red foxes climbing trees for hunting
During the research conducted for this topic, I came across the case of some European red foxes that adapt their hunting strategy to trap animals on trees.
It is also known that red foxes are animals that incorporate bird eggs as part of their diet, not forgetting that foxes are cunning and opportunistic animals that take advantage of any facility to obtain food.
For foxes, it could be more difficult to hunt a rabbit on the ground, than for example, a koala on a tree that is very easy to climb, the same with a bird’s nest, which is on a branch within easy reach.
The rabbit is much more alert and can be much faster, on the other hand, an animal such as a koala, which does not have the same speed and is not used to being hunted, will not be so difficult to hunt, as long as it is in a tree with branches that are very easy to reach.
Which trees are easier for a red fox to climb?
Red foxes cannot climb large trees, but if you make things too easy for them, they will be cunning and adapted enough to climb a tree. To know if a tree is easy for a red fox to climb you simply analyze the tree as if a child were going to climb it.
Any tree that has a sloping trunk, with strong branches that are easy to reach both from the base of the tree and from each other may be easy for a red fox to climb.
Hardwood trees tend to be stronger and easier to climb. Oak, eucalyptus, sycamore, mature maples, pines are all trees that can be easily climbed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can red fox climb?
Can a fox walk over a fence?
The stature, agility, and weight of a fox make it easy for it to walk on a fence as long as the fence has a surface of at least 3 or 4 inches, this will be enough for the fox to walk balanced on the edge of the fence.
Do foxes dig under fences?
Like other canids, such as wolves and coyotes, foxes are diggers by nature. A fox will always look for the easiest way to get where it needs to go, which means that before trying to jump a fence, it will try to dig underneath it.
It is much easier for foxes to sneak and scurry under fences since their dimensions are considerably smaller than those of other canids.