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Where Do Foxes Sleep In The Winter?

If you pick up just about any book on Red Fox behavior, you will read that as a general rule they do not seek shelter when they sleep, even during cold winter nights. They are more apt to sleep in an open, exposed area unless the wind is blowing hard, in which case they will find a protected spot such as their den (see inset). In most winter conditions they typically choose a slightly elevated patch of ground, curl up in a ball, tuck their noses under their tails and sleep with nothing more between them and the elements than a dense coat of hair.  

When they sleep, foxes only do so for 15 – 25 seconds at a time, waking up and looking around before going back to sleep.  In dense cover, a fox allows itself to go into a deeper sleep, waking every hour or so to look and listen for potential danger. (Photos: Red Fox bed at base of tree; (inset) Red Fox den, revisited after the first winter storm.)

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10 responses

  1. Clyde Jenne

    Hi Mary,
    I’ll bet the foxes in Hartland would have a hard time finding their den after the 30 plus inches of snow we got last Thursday. Of course you’re in the northern banana belt.

    December 21, 2020 at 8:21 am

    • That’s exactly right, Clyde…banana belt if I’ve ever seen one!

      December 21, 2020 at 10:05 pm

  2. Arleen Hollenhorst

    Thanks, Kathy! Happy Solstice to you, too! Celebrating the return of the light!


    December 21, 2020 at 8:30 am

  3. Alice

    Seems like the Foxes wouldn’t get a lot of restful sleep, waking so often. I’d think they’d need lots of food, to maintain their energy.

    December 21, 2020 at 8:32 am

  4. Wow! That really is amazing! The best defense is to never get caught off-guard! Don’t go into a deep sleep! Amazing! 🙂 ❤

    December 21, 2020 at 8:43 am

  5. Wallie

    Does the Gray Fox behave differently than the Red? I have a Gray Fox that visits my yard- very beautiful with a thick coat and exquisite bushy tail- I can imagine this animal sleeping on top of or in the snow

    December 21, 2020 at 9:56 am

    • I believe both gray and red foxes grow a thicker winter coat and brave the elements, Wallie.

      December 21, 2020 at 10:04 pm

  6. So interesting – 15-25 seconds of sleep at a time! How can that count as sleep? And how do they know this? Are they able to do observations of foxes sleeping in the wild? (Once again, I’m amazed by what I learn from your posts, Mary! Thank you!!)

    December 21, 2020 at 11:56 am

  7. I have a red fox den visible from my bedroom window, and judging from the tracks in the snow, the fox is using the den at night.

    December 21, 2020 at 8:14 pm

    • I think this happens more than most people are aware of, Kathie. Glad you have also confirmed it!

      December 21, 2020 at 10:04 pm

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