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Squirrel vs Fox

Close-up of a squirrel eating nut.

Where there is a tree, there is a squirrel. Everybody adores these cute little creatures hopping around, hiding, and cracking nuts. What if a squirrel encounters a fox? Both are wild and furry. I bet it will be a worth-watching scene.

Squirrel is a small-sized rodent belonging to the Sciuridae family of animals. They have slender bodies with long bushy tails and large eyes. In contrast, foxes are members of the Canidae family. Their skulls are flat, and snouts are upturned. Bushy tails are a key feature of all foxes.

Squirrels and foxes belong to two distinct groups. However, it is quite interesting that they bear some very striking similarities and dissimilarities. Let us dig deep into the squirrel vs. fox debate.

Squirrel vs. Fox: Similarities

Red fox showing its bushy tail.

1. Both have Long Bushy Tail

Squirrels and foxes both have very similar bushy tails, which serve various functions:

  • Balancing is the main purpose of a bushy tail. The long bushy tail helps balance squirrels and foxes when they jump from tree to tree.
  • It serves as a blanket in winter. Squirrels and foxes tend to curl their fluffy tails around their bodies to get some warmth in the cold weather.
  • They use their tails as protection from the enemies. When looked at from behind, a squirrel or a fox is completely hidden by the uprighted tail.
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2.  Both Are Omnivores

Squirrel with nut on its mouth.

Most of us already know that foxes are omnivores and assume squirrels to be nut-crackers only. In actuality, squirrels are omnivores, meaning they can feed on both plants and meat.

3. Both Are Wild Animals

We can neither domesticate a squirrel nor a fox. In some states of the USA, it is even illegal to keep squirrels as pets. The reason is, squirrels and foxes are adapted to wildlife and space. It is inhumane to confine them in cages just for the entertainment purpose of Homo sapiens.

Squirrels are entertaining, but when it comes to making them a pet, it is extremely difficult because of their wild nature. Similarly, foxes can not be domesticated since their brains are not built to process commands. Also, they are incredibly shy of humans.

4. Both Are Viviparous Mammals

Squirrels and foxes share a common class of animal kingdoms. They are members of Class Mammalia. Both are viviparous, i.e., they give birth to their young ones, and the baby develops inside the mother’s uterus.

Squirrel vs. Fox: Differences

Squirrel on a tree holding a nut.

Despite being similar in many ways, squirrels and foxes can not be seen as close animal relatives as the list of their differences is quite long.

1. Relationship With Humans

Squirrels are very social and enjoy human company. They are extremely naughty and joyful. They love playing around on the trees or in the yard. If you hear a clitter sound in the backyard, it may be a squirrel playing hide and seek with his mate.

Contrary to squirrels, foxes are unbelievably shy creatures. They tend to keep a distance from humans. A fox, being an introvert, is very unlikely to mingle with other animals or humans.

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2. Diurnal And Nocturnal

Squirrel in the middle of the forest with its tongue out at night.

Squirrels are diurnal beings, which means that they are active in the light hours.

On the other hand, foxes usually come out to hunt and prey during the night. They are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active in the nighttime. Sometimes, foxes can roam about during the daytime too.

3. Some Squirrels Can Fly, But Foxes Can’t

According to research, almost 50 species of squirrels have flaps between the fore and hind limbs, forming false wings with which they can fly from tree to tree. These wings are in no way similar to that of the birds. And so, their flight is not the kind of actual flying. But squirrels can fly as high as 250 feet from one point to another.

Foxes are exclusively terrestrial. They can jump long distances but can not fly as flying squirrels do.

4. Squirrels Can Harm Themselves; Foxes Don’t

Squirrel on a tree looking down.

Squirrels can harm themselves, bite their hand or tail when they are irritated and furious. They can harm other animals and even humans also if they are feeling distressed.

On the other hand, foxes are not much harmful even when agitated. There are some rumors which make us assume foxes to be horrible monsters, but they never attack humans or other animals first. In case of hunger and any other necessity, foxes can be harmful but just to the extent of material damage.

5. Lifespan

The lifespan of squirrels is much longer than foxes. Squirrels can live up to fifteen to eighteen years, whereas foxes have an average span of three to four years.

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6. Physical Differences

SquirrelFox
They have a round skull.Their skull is flat.
They have big hard incisors to facilitate nut cracking.Larger canines are present in the buccal cavity of foxes to help tear flesh.
They have a normal and little snout.Their snout is Upturned and pointed.
Their big eyes are round and cute.They have the famous ‘foxy eyes.’
They range in color from grey, blond, white, red, and black.Their color is different shades of red and orange.
Their forelimbs are smaller as compared to hind limbs, perfect for long-range jumps.All limbs are of equal size.  

Will Fox Eat the Squirrel?

A delighted fox wandering the grassland.

Foxes are omnivores. They can eat every eatable which comes their way. Unfortunate for squirrels! Yes, if there is a fight between a fox and a squirrel, the fox will win and make the squirrel the upcoming dinner.

What is a Fox Squirrel?

A fox squirrel standing on the branch of a tree.

Sciurus niger, generally called a fox squirrel, is a squirrel in the original. It is named a fox squirrel because of its resemblance in color with a fox. The size of a fox squirrel is also the biggest of all tree squirrels.

All these features, including the bushy tail, make this squirrel look like a fox from a distance. A fox squirrel is not at all a mixture of a fox and a squirrel. Tap me on my back for telling you that!

Conclusion

Squirrels and foxes look sisters due to their color and bushy tails. They are kind of distant relatives according to biology and are similar and different in many ways.

I hope this article helped you in learning about squirrels and foxes. We love squirrels for their cute and mischievous nature and admire foxes for their elegance and beauty. Be it a squirrel or a fox; both are lovely creatures of mother nature.

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References:

The Humane Society of The United States: What to do about foxes

Pets on Mom.com: GRAY SQUIRREL & FOX SQUIRREL COMPARISON

Rover.com: The Truth about Dogs vs. Foxes