If you’re unfamiliar with foxes and their abilities, maybe you wonder whether they ever prey on deer. After all, these opportunistic omnivores certainly enjoy meat and will eat it whenever they can. So do fox eat deer or not?
Foxes may occasionally prey on fawns (baby deer), but they’re too small to hunt full-grown deer. Generally, these animals will hunt fawns only if there aren’t any coyotes or wolves in the area. With that said, a fox will eat a deer that is already dead if they come upon its corpse and a larger animal isn’t already feeding.
Why (and when) a Fox May Eat Deer Meat?
Occasionally, deer may catch and eat small fawns (baby deer). This is quite unusual, however, as baby deer tend to stay close to their herds for the protection of their mothers and other adults around them. Typically a fox can prey on a fawn before it is old enough to run, when it is often left alone and hidden by its mother.
It’s extremely rare for foxes to eat the meat of an adult deer. After all, foxes are much smaller than those animals, and they hunt alone.
Unlike wolves, they don’t have the help of companions in hunting larger animals. In most cases, a fox will only be able to eat adult deer meat if they find it as carrion.
What Does a Fox Usually Eat?
Foxes are omnivores, and they are highly opportunistic. In many cases, they act as scavengers.
They will eat a wide range of foods. Let’s explore some of these fox foods below:
- Small mammals
Foxes will eat whatever foods they find available in a given season. This means that their diets tend to vary throughout the year and from region to region. Different species of foxes may also have different diets.
What is a Fox’s Favorite Food?
It’s pretty easy to guess what a fox likes best. In short, it’s meat. While fox are omnivores and opportunistic, meaning they will eat almost anything, tasty meat is their favorite dish.
In many cases, foxes will eat meat from carrion that they happen to find. But they also commonly hunt small mammals, killing these animals for themselves and then eating them.
For example, foxes eat animals such as birds, rodents, and rabbits or hares. They also eat frogs, fish, reptiles, and more. If it’s small enough for a fox to kill and eat, this predator will probably eat it.
When it comes to vegetation, foxes will eat a wide variety of foods. For instance, a fox will eat wild grasses, mushrooms, berries, and seeds. When it comes to insects, caterpillars and earthworms are tasty treats for foxes.
What Animals Usually Prey on Deer?
Many different animals prey on deer. Some common ones include mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, and even bobcats. Black bears are known to prey on fawns.
Cougars and red wolves are important predators of deer in Southeastern parts of the United States.
This one is almost common sense. If there are wolves in an area, they are sure to hunt deer. Of course, wolves have an advantage over other kinds of predators in that they hunt in packs.
This means they are able to bring down prey that may be larger than they are.
Coyotes love meat too, but they usually hunt alone. This makes deer hunting more difficult for them, so if they eat deer meat, it will probably be fawns or carrion (already dead deer).
In general, coyotes focus on small animals such as squirrels and rabbits. In the rare instances that coyotes may hunt in a pack, they may successfully hunt an adult deer.
Of course, there are plenty of humans that hunt deer. This makes humans one of the most significant predators of cervids.
As omnivores, bears eat a lot of vegetation but they do eat plenty of meat too. It’s quite rare for a black bear to attempt deer hunting. If a bear of this species eats deer meat, it’s usually from a fawn (baby deer).
Grizzly bears, however, are a different matter. These bear tend to be much more aggressive and they’re known for eating more meat. Deer isn’t their primary prey, but they’re much more likely to pursue an adult deer than black bears.
While lynx are significantly smaller than mountain lions, there are certain circumstances in which a lynx may be able to take down a deer. A smaller lynx will probably target fawns.
Mountain lions (other known as cougars) are known to be enthusiastic deer hunters. These animals have the size and strength to successfully hunt adult deer on a regular basis.
The cougar is a solitary hunter, and they often eat at least one deer each week.
Wolverines don’t hunt deer as much as some other animals, they are ferocious and determined enough to prey on fawns without protection.
They may even hunt adult deer with some kind of disability that makes them run a lot slower. One major disadvantage of wolverines however is how slow they move.
Alligators are able to hunt deer when these animals come to the water to have a drink. These are ambush predators. They will patiently wait for an animal (such as a deer) to come to the water’s edge and then they’ll strike.
There are some birds of prey that will sometimes take down and eat fawns. Examples of these birds include eagles and hawks. Of course, carnivorous birds may also eat carrion from already dead deer.
This one may sound a little strange, but it’s certainly true (while uncommon). If wild hogs are hungry enough, they may prey on deer. More commonly, they may scavenge on a deer that is already dead.
As we’ve seen here, foxes eat a wide variety of foods but it’s relatively rare for them to eat deer meat. If they do, it’s usually because they find an already dead deer and feed on the carrion.
In some cases, a fox may prey on small fawns, but this is only when the fawn is unprotected and away from the herd.