Encyclopedia Article


Foxes are canines that tend to be on the small size, with large upright ears and a large, bushy tail. They are opportunistic, ominvorous, and highly adaptable. In addition, although they can survive in a pack, they also do well on their own. As such, they have found a niche on every continent, except for Antarctica, where they have earned a variety of reputations as hunters, pests, and even beloved domesticated companions.

In folklore, because of their similarity to both coyotes and wolves, foxes tend to get lumped under the characteristic attributes of the other two. Seen as cunning tricksters, foxes are perceived with ambivalence, similar to coyote figures, whose nature is neither good nor bad. In the Navajo tradition, for example, foxes are viewed as a good animals that represent material goods. In addition, the fur and tails are used in different ceremonials such as Night Way and Coyote Way. Yellow and Blue Fox are mentioned a few times in the Navajo origin story. However, it appears that the larger gray fox or desert fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) can sometimes be associated as a Skinwalker or were-animal. Clyde Kluckhohn in Navaho Witchcraft asserts that, along with bear, owl, and crow, witches can take on the form of desert foxes.

Photo Credit: 

"Endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica)" by USFWS Endangered Species is licensed under CC BY.