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Vixens Screaming

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the time of year when you might wake up in the middle of the night and hear a rasping, prolonged scream. It could well be a female red fox, issuing forth a “vixen scream” designed to travel long distances and attract a mate. This scream is not limited to females in heat – males also can scream, as can females at other times of the year. Once you have heard it, you will never forget this sound. Red foxes have numerous vocalizations, among which this scream and a high-pitched “bark” are the most common. You can hear several of a red fox’s more than twenty calls on this website: (Photo by Susan Holland)

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15 responses

  1. Marv Elliott

    This is one of those unique and almost unbelievable sounds from nature. We were watching one of the many British movies and kept hearing this sound and wondering. We finally figured it out. We have not heard it here in VT.

    February 18, 2015 at 7:35 am


    Do fisher’s make a similar sort of sound? I’ve heard conflicting accounts as to whether or not a fisher will call when they feel their territory is threatened. Just as many people have told me that fishers are for the most part silent and what I’m hearing is likely a fox every time.

    February 18, 2015 at 8:05 am

  3. Marilyn

    That explains screams I heard at night several years ago here in Central Maine. All I could think of was something like a rabbit being attacked and eaten by a hawk or owl.

    February 18, 2015 at 8:20 am

  4. Phil Daley

    Get on this website… a short nature Email /day.


    February 18, 2015 at 8:51 am

  5. Bridgit Litchfield

    Thanks Mary! I’ve heard those screams but never knew who made them. The Lang Elliot link has given me another valuable connection like this one with you.

    February 18, 2015 at 10:32 am

  6. Hilary Platt

    So that’s what we heard outside our dining room window last year! There is no doubt. We live in rural New Hampshire and love all the nature that surrounds us. Thanks Mary, for solving a mystery for us. I bet I spent 3 hours trying to figure it out via the internet–problem solved.

    February 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

  7. Elizabeth

    I’d also be interested in how the vixen scream differs from a fisher scream. I have heard terrifying night-time howls from the forest – like the scariest horror movie teenage-girl-being-mutilated type sound. I was told that was a fisher.

    February 18, 2015 at 11:39 am

  8. Elizabeth

    Just listened to the fox recording. I don’t mean to be contrary, but that sounds to me more like a high-pitched bark-type sound. The fisher sound I’ve heard was more scream-like.

    February 18, 2015 at 3:00 pm

  9. Elizabeth

    Oops. Our latest messages crossed in the ether. Thanks for posting the link so we can compare different sounds.

    February 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm


    Hi Nathan,Have you ever heard this??? I never knew this about foxes. If you go to the link,there are a couple of recordings. Oh those vixens!!! Sent from my iPad


    February 18, 2015 at 8:16 pm

  11. Henry Holland

    Thanks Mary(and Susiie for the picture),
    We have 2 young foxes living under our boat house here in Michigan. We saw them last weekend and will be listening for their calls.
    Thanks. I never knew they sounded like that.
    Henry Holland

    February 19, 2015 at 8:21 am

    • Oh, how I envy you, Henry! Thanks so much for writing. Hope you have less snow than Vermont does!

      February 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm

  12. Bill On The Hill...

    Hi Mary… Great shot on the fox, it appears to be missing a tooth on it’s lower jaw.
    I too have experienced ” blood curdling ” sounds late at night from my woods. I have seen fishers first hand on my mountain & have a mating pair of red foxes that run my road each day. I watch them moussing in my fields as well as coyotes that employ the exact same technique!
    My 1st fisher encounter was about 1 mile below my property while driving down the mountain, a fisher ran across the road directly in front of me with a raven in it’s jaws, it dropped the bird & disappeared over the snow bank & down into a deep ravine.
    On my return trip, about 15 mins. later, the raven was gone…
    Last year going out the opposite way, I came across a fisher carcass on the side of the road ( road kill ) & it sat there all season decomposing, oh how I wish I had scooped it up now, for the skull mostly!
    The bare bone carcass was quite a sight indeed!
    Great posts, keep them coming!

    February 20, 2015 at 10:02 am

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