Do Hawks Eat Foxes? Everything You Need to Know!

by Derrick | Last Updated: April 23, 2021

Due to their small size, foxes have many natural predators in the wild, including wolves, bears, coyotes, mountain lions, leopards, and birds including owls, and eagles. Generally speaking foxes would not be an ideal meal for a hawk.

Foxes can be found across the globe, in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Their agile bodies, fast speed, varied diet, and fantastic hunting abilities have allowed them to thrive in many areas worldwide.

In the wild foxes live primarily in forests and grasslands, and urban areas. They live in burrows underground, store food, sleep, and take care of their pups. They are social creatures, living in packs with their family members and mates. Generally, if you spot a fox, there are likely many more in the area.

A fox’s diet can be pretty varied.

Foxes are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetation. They primarily hunt small mammals such as rodents or rabbits and scavenge for carrion when the opportunity arises.

Foxes will feed on just about anything from eggs to fruit to wild berries and nuts. They eat these things to survive, but they also do it for pleasure. Foxes will chase small animals and the “thrill of the chase” can be entertaining for the fox, yet once the fox does catch the prey, they will often kill the prey and then play with it before consuming it.

At between 2-15 kg in weight (about the size of a medium-sized dog), most foxes are similar in size and shape to their close relatives, the jackals, wolves, and dogs. However, foxes have a characteristic pointed nose, bushy tail, and long, thin legs that distinguish them. Their colors vary depending on the species and their habitat.

Foxes hunt at night, making them more exposed to nocturnal predators, some of whom are competing for the same prey animals. Despite possessing extraordinary hearing and sight and the ability to run very fast, foxes are still often preyed upon by other animals higher in the food chain.

What are Predators of Fox’s?

In some cases, foxes fall prey to animals who are looking for a tasty meal. Generally speaking, hawks would not go after foxes; they are simply too big and fast, although I could see a hawk going after a baby fox which is more in line with what a hawk could reasonably kill and eat.

Hawks as Predators to Foxes

Hawks are a broad category of birds of prey. The name “hawk” is often attributed to birds in the genus Accipiter.

Hawks of various sizes and species are found across the globe, on all six of the major continents. Although not one of their top prey choices, with this overlap in their territories, it is not uncommon to discover that hawks will feed on foxes when they get the chance.

Hawks are carnivorous and will eat just about anything that is meat. Their most common prey items include mice, rats, rabbits, squirrels, lizards, snakes, frogs, other reptiles, varied insects, and other smaller birds.

The main advantage of hawks and other birds of prey is that they hunt and attack from above. Hawks will either soar up in the sky watching for unsuspecting prey or perch high above the ground, sitting motionless and waiting to swoop down and attack. This makes them hard to spot by their target prey, in this case, the fox, who is anticipating attacks primarily from the ground.

Although smaller in size, most hawks have the ability to snatch and carry away a baby or juvenile fox without any issue. Lifting an adult fox would generally prove more difficult, but is not impossible for a large, strong hawk. In general, a hawk can only carry a prey item that is less than its body weight.

Would Hawks Eat An Already Dead Fox?

Sometimes you see foxes that are deceased along side the road. Would a hawk eat them?

If the fox is already dead, then likely no they would not eat a fox. Hawks prefer live game and do not tend to scavenge off of animals that are already dead. People often confuse hawks with other animals that do eat road kill such as turkey vultures which you will often see along the road scavenging roadkill. Therefore, a hawk would be unlikely to eat an already dead fox.

What Birds Of Prey Would Potentially Eat a Fox?

Eagles are a larger bird of prey that may try and eat a juvenile fox, generally speaking eagles are more likely to eat small to medium size animals such as rabbits, ground squirrels and marmots, as well as other birds and fish.

Humans as Predators to Foxes

What is the fox’s most dangerous predator?

Unfortunately, humans are by far one of the fox’s worst enemies. Humans kill foxes at alarming rates for their furs, for sport, and destroy their habitats by clearing forests and inhabiting new areas.

Poison that humans place out to control other pests can be a big risk to foxes, the fox may eat the poison directly or may eat a rodent that has been into poison but has not yet died.

Despite predators, most fox species are not considered endangered by the IUNC Red List. As always if you are going to hunt or trap foxes be sure to check if it is legal to do so in your area.

References

https://sciencing.com/what-do-hawks-eat-4597039.html
https://www.livescience.com/27168-foxes.html
https://www.worldanimalfoundation.com/advocate/wild-animals/params/post/1294268/hawks
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/red-fox