Belonging to the Canidae family, wolves and foxes are close relatives of the domestic dog. However, unlike man’s best friend, wolves and foxes are not popular with humans due to their unpredictable nature and cunning minds.
In the world today, there are over 37 species of foxes and just 2 species of wolves. And although both animals have similar morpho-anatomical features and ancestors, they still have their differences.
In this article, we compare foxes and wolves while stating fun facts about them.
Table of Contents
Size and Body Structure
The two species of wolves: the gray wolf and the red wolf, are the largest wild canids. Contrarily, foxes are some of the smallest members of the Canidae family, with the fennec fox being the smallest canine.
In fewer words, foxes are not as big as wolves. A male wolf can weigh around 70-110 pounds, and a female wolf can weigh about 60-80 pounds. Foxes are medium-sized and rarely exceed 30 pounds.
The average wolf height is about 3 feet tall at the shoulder, while that of a fox is about 1.5 feet.
Wolves have a broad snout with a large muscular body. Foxes have long whiskers, long bushy tails with white tips, and pointed noses.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat
Foxes can inhabit urban areas, alpine forests, coastal areas, and deserts, while wolves prefer the arctic tundra, deserts, grasslands, and forests.
Can a Fox Kill a Wolf?
A fox cannot kill a healthy wolf. Except a wolf is injured or sick, foxes stand no chance when both animals fight. In other words, in a fight between a wolf and a fox, the odds favor the wolf.
Of course, the stated outcome is not surprising. Wolves are significantly larger than foxes, weighing two to three times an average fox. So, wolves have the size advantage.
The bite force of a wolf is also about three times that of a fox. Under normal circumstances, foxes stand no chance against wolves.
The difference in size between these animals will be the prime deciding factor if these two are drawn into a fight. And although the fox may get in a few hits, it will lose and may be killed if bitten multiple times by the wolf.
Which Is Stronger?
Wolves are stronger than foxes. Of course, their relatively large size and body structure contribute to the difference in strength between them and foxes. Beyond being stronger, wolves also have more endurance than foxes.
Plus, wolves typically make light work of any fox they catch feeding on their kill.
Which Is More Dangerous?
Foxes pose more of a threat to humans than wolves, even with their small stature. Foxes currently outnumber wolves, so you are more likely to cross paths with a fox.
Just like coyotes, foxes can adapt to any environment and make homes for themselves anywhere. And when they start living close to humans, they eventually lose their fear of humans.
If the fox bite spreads an infection like rabies, then there is the possibility of the average human getting killed.
Although wolves are larger and more formidable animals, they tend to be wary of humans and will prefer to stay as far away from us as possible.
Another way to differentiate between a fox and a wolf is the color of their fur.
Most foxes in the wild have reddish-brown fur all over with a white band on their chest and face. However, there are those with silver and white coats.
Wolves, on the other hand, typically have grey-brown fur. However, they may also come in black, white, red, and brown coats.
Foxes have dark paws with dark markings on their ears and muzzles.
Wolf paws, on the other hand, are either the same color as their body or of a lighter shade.
Social Activity Difference
When it comes to social activities, foxes are solitary animals. Foxes do not move in large numbers. They prefer to move around with just two or three companions.
Unlike foxes, wolves are more social. You will hardly see wolves moving alone as they tend to live and hunt in packs. A wolf pack has an average size of five to eight wolves, and sometimes it can have as many as thirty wolves.
Also, wolf cubs stay with their parents until they are mature enough to fend for themselves and start their own families.
Foxes tend to hunt and eat small insects, reptiles, mammals, and birds. Their diets may also include berries and fruits. Their diet choices may, in part, be due to their smaller sizes.
Wolves, on the other hand, prefer to hunt large-sized hoofed animals. They prey on animals like deer, moose, sheep, caribou, elk, and wild boars. But they may also feed on smaller animals like hares, beavers, moles, and birds.
Breeding and Gestation Period
The breeding season of a wolf is from February to March, with a gestation period of 63 days.
However, for foxes, breeding typically happens from December to February in underground breeding dens. Foxes have a gestation period of around 52 days.
Another important fact is the number of offspring produced. A female wolf can give birth to four to six babies each season. When there is enough food, a wolf’s litter can contain fourteen to seventeen babies. The babies of a wolf are called pups and are either black, grey, or brown at birth.
A female fox will usually give birth to four to five babies. The babies of a fox are called kits, and they typically have white, red, silver, or grey fur at birth. At birth, kits are born deaf and blind while their ears are floppy and short.
In the wild, foxes barely make it past two years of age. But the ones that do make it past age two can live an additional three or four years, having survived the most dangerous stages of their lives.
With proper care, foxes in captivity tend to live longer than wild foxes.
In the wild, wolves can live for thirteen years, with an average life span of six to eight years. In captivity, wolves can live for up to sixteen years.
Foxes are generally faster than wolves.
Foxes can sprint and cover short distances between 30 and 40 miles per hour, depending on the type of fox. The red fox, for instance, has a top speed of 30 miles per hour. The grey fox is another example, and it has a top speed of 42 miles per hour.
Wolves can sprint and cover short distances at 36 – 38 miles per hour.
Foxes and wolves make many similar sounds, including barking, howling, whimpering, and growling. However, wolves howl more frequently than foxes do.
Besides the sounds mentioned above, foxes also scream and gekker. But wolves do not let out such sounds.