19. Fox Trotting and Fox Fighting 9


red fox fight mouths agape vulpes vulpes fightingAlthough foxes do have a bad image of being these naughty, ferocious animals, I have never, ever seen them show the slightest sign of aggression towards a human being. I have, however, seen some violent behaviour towards other foxes, but only for the very obvious reasons. Naturally, a fox will fight to fend off intruders and for other vital matters, like food and the right to mate. Wouldn’t you?”

But foxes, being highly intelligent creatures, understand –maybe even better than some other mammals- that here are no winners in a war.
A true fight always causes victims.
Not to mention the fact that an unnecessary combat is a total waste of energy, energy  that might as well be used for more vital matters, like finding food, or a mate.

Fox kits tend to play fight a lot, in order to practice their fighting skills and to establish their position in the pecking order.
They also play fight to resolve their disagreements.

Once an intruder enters another fox’s territory, it will, at first, be urged to leave in a relatively friendly way.
If the other fox refuses, stronger measures are required.

To avoid bloodshed, foxes have developed a series of rituals to replace actual violent behaviour.
With a varity of vocalizations, like their very stereotypical ‘gekkering’ and dominant or submissive postures, they make their statements very clear.
Instead of deploying their sharp teeth and claws, they rear up on their hind legs, lay their paws on the opponents shoulders, put down their ears and tail, and face each other with wide open mouths.
These wide mouths agape leave little to the imagination:
‘Take a gooood look at these very sharp teeth, before considering another battle.
I’m being very friendly now, but the very next time we meet, I might as well use ‘em! ‘

Standing in this battle stance, both foxes try to intimidate the rival, by trying to push him or her backwards.
The outcome is quite simple, the one that’s pushed back is the loser, who’d better get the **** out of there, and the winner can heave a sigh of relief. Another disaster has been successfully averted.

Everyone who has seen foxes in this particular pose, will immediately understand where the designation Fox Trot(ting) came from; they look like two dancers, dancing for peace.

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Red fox showing dominance by standing upright

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Red fox male & female fighting over territory or food

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Two young fox kits ‘playfighting’ to resolve a conflict and practise their future fighting skills

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

The fox on top is the winner here, while the other fox clearly shows submission

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Paws on each others shoulders and mouths agape: two vixens trying to resolve a conflict without bloodshed

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Mother and child fox arguing and measuring forces by pushing their flanks and wide open mouths against each other

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting combat submissive dominant foxtrot behaviour

Two female foxes rearing up on their hind legs, ears flat and mouth agape.
Voilà…the Fox Trot

red fox vulpes vulpes fight fighting snow winter cold white

Red foxes fighting in the snow



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