Ever called someone good-looking a “fox?” There may be a biological reason for this term, and it’s because most fox couples mate for life, and they like to get frisky in a very specific way.
Studies at the University of Lincoln in the United Kingdom have uncovered some quite strange sexual habits of male and female foxes.
Seemingly equivalent human male tendencies, male foxes can get quite aggressive when another male fox enters his territory, especially when the local fox is searching for or has already found a mate. Scientists have observed fights that end up being extremely violent and dangerous, at least for the weaker fox. In preparation for a potential face-off and to prevent other males from “getting with their woman,” male foxes guards their partner throughout the entirety of the mating season.
Mating foxes show no courtship dances or displays. In fact, scientists are still unsure about the specific communication that exists between a couple that instigates the onset of sexual behavior.
Whatever foxy pickup lines the male foxes are using to get female attention, it definitely works. While a pair of foxes are getting it on, the female fox, also known as a “vixen,” lets out a human-like screech that biologists refer to as “screams.” The sexual yelps continue throughout the mating season, making springtime well-known for more than just budding flowers and warmer weather.
Interestingly enough, “vixen” is often used as slang to mean a “spiteful or quarrelsome woman.” Only a coupled male fox could tell you if his partner is spiteful or quarrelsome, but it’s pretty evident with her vocal reaction that at least she’s satisfied.
Studies also show that large dominant dog foxes copulate (AKA, they get around the block) more than smaller males. Most fox couples do stay together for life, though, making a polygamous lifestyle in the fox community relatively uncommon. Scientists do believe that it is the large males rather than the smaller males who are more likely to foxy affairs because “unfaithfulness” is energetically costly. In an instinctual, evolutionary way, male foxes already with a mate with which to make babies and pass on his DNA to the next generation, there is little to no need to find another female fox for sexy time.
Check out the vixen’s scream around 1:98: