Fox vs. Coyote: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the differences between a fox and a coyote can be quite intriguing. These creatures, often subjects of confusion due to their similar appearance and shared habitat preferences, are distinct in several ways. In this article, we aim to guide you through the key distinctions between these two canines. 

The Main Difference between Fox and Coyote

Fox vs. Coyote: What's the Difference? Pin

Fox vs. Coyote: Key Takeaways

  • Coyotes tend to be larger with more dog-like features compared to foxes.
  • Foxes are smaller with bushy tails and exhibit many coat colors.
  • Both species show distinct behaviors and social structures within their environments.

Fox vs. Coyote: Overview

Understanding Fox

Foxes are relatively small, typically weighing between 5 to 25 pounds – which is akin to an average house cat. Characterized by their lithe frames, they stand about 20 inches tall. Foxes are known for their striking bushy tails and diversity in color, with coats that can be red, silver-gray, and a variety of other hues. Agile and solitary, these creatures have a reputation for their cleverness in both popular culture and the wild.

Understanding Coyote

Coyotes, on the other hand, are larger and more robust than foxes, often weighing between 20 to 50 pounds. They may grow over 2 feet tall, presenting a more imposing stature. Coyotes have a uniform appearance, with gray or brown coats, and long bushy tails. Their lengthy limbs, snout, and ears give them a dog-like face, setting them apart from their fox counterparts. Coyotes are highly adaptable and can be found in diverse habitats, often near human settlements.

Fox vs. Coyote: Physical Differences

We can observe several physical characteristics to distinguish between foxes and coyotes. Their differences are outlined in the table below:

Feature Fox Coyote
Size Smaller, 5 to 25 lbs (2.3 to 11.3 kg) Larger, 20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg)
Height Shorter, about 20 inches (50 cm) tall Taller, over 2 feet (60 cm) tall
Body Length 18 to 33 inches (45 to 84 cm) 32 to 37 inches (81 to 94 cm)
Tail Bushier and may have different colorations Less bushy and more uniform in color
Coat Colors Ranges from red, silver-gray, and other variations Typically gray or brown, more uniform
Face More pointed snout and triangular face Dog-like face with a longer snout
Ears Smaller and more triangular Longer ears
Limb Length Shorter limbs Much longer limbs

Fox vs. Coyote: Habitat and Behavioral Differences

When we examine the habitats of foxes and coyotes, we notice that they both are adaptable creatures, but they tend to prefer different types of environments. Coyotes are often found in open areas like deserts, plains, and sparse forests, but they’ve also adapted to living in suburban and urban environments.

  • Fox Habitats:
    • Often live in forests, grasslands, mountains, and deserts.
    • Prefer more secluded areas for dens, such as wooded patches or thickets.
  • Coyote Habitats:
    • Favor open spaces and can thrive in a variety of ecosystems.
    • More commonly seen in human-inhabited areas in recent years.

In terms of behavior, foxes and coyotes have their distinct ways of life. Foxes are usually solitary hunters, preferring to catch smaller prey like rodents, rabbits, and birds. They have acute hearing and use a pouncing technique that allows them to kill prey quickly. Coyotes, on the other hand, are known to be more opportunistic feeders. They eat a wider range of foods, from small mammals to fruits and vegetables. They are also seen hunting in pairs or small family groups.

  • Hunting Behaviors:
    • Foxes: Solitary and stealthy with excellent hearing.
    • Coyotes: Opportunistic, often hunting in groups.
  • Social Structures:
    • Foxes: Independent, except during mating season or rearing pups.
    • Coyotes: Pack-oriented, with strong social bonds.

Fox vs. Coyote Examples in Sentences

Example Sentences of Fox

  • While hiking through the woods, we noticed a small red fox darting quickly through the underbrush, its bushy tail a vibrant contrast against the snow.
  • In our neighborhood, we often spot foxes foraging at dusk, moving with agility and quietness through gardens.
  • We recently read that foxes are solitary hunters, which might explain why we only see them alone when out on our nature walks.
  • The distinct sound we heard last night, a sort of high-pitched yelping, was from a fox calling out to its mate.
  • On our morning walk, we found paw prints in the soil; the small, neat marks indicated a fox had crossed the path just before us.

Example Sentences of Coyote

  • We’ve observed coyotes in the open field behind our house; they are markedly larger than foxes and travel in packs.
  • Our local park has reported coyote sightings, advising us to keep our distance, as they can be protective of their territory.
  • While camping, we were awakened by the eerie sound of a coyote howl; it’s a reminder that these creatures are truly wild.
  • On our nature trail, we sometimes encounter coyotes; they can be recognized by their larger frame and longer legs compared to foxes.
  • The tracks we stumbled upon during our hike were larger and more robust than fox prints, indicating that a coyote had recently passed through.

Related Confused Words

Fox vs. Dog

Foxes, members of the genus Vulpes, are wild animals exhibiting more lithe and agile builds compared to most domestic dogs. While dogs vary widely in size and shape, they’re generally more robust and less elusive than their wild fox relatives.

Fox vs. Jackal

Jackals, like foxes, have a similar lean build and bushy tail, but they usually have a more uniform coat color and are more commonly found in Africa and Asia. They share the same family with foxes but belong to different genera.

Fox vs. Wolf

Wolves are much larger and more powerful than foxes, with adults weighing as much as 40 to 175 pounds. These pack animals exhibit a sociable nature quite distinct from the more solitary and smaller foxes.

Coyote vs. Jackal

Coyotes are closely related to wolves and are larger than jackals, with more variability in coat color. They’re native to North America, while jackals are not found on the continent, sticking largely to Africa and parts of Asia.

Coyote vs. Dog

Although domestic dogs and coyotes share the same family, Canidae, the coyote retains its wild characteristics and is not as variable in size or coat as dogs. It stands taller, with a more narrow snout and longer legs than most dogs.

Coyote vs. Wolf

Coyotes are significantly smaller than wolves, and Canis lupus, with adult coyotes weighing roughly between 20 to 50 pounds. Wolves have a sturdier frame and are highly social animals that live and hunt in packs, unlike the more solitary coyote.