I had occasion to be discussing urban foxes with 3 other old boys. Bob was having trouble getting to sleep at night because of the noise they made in his garden. I said that it was the dog fox shrieking out in pain because he was caught in a 'knot' during mating.
Keith, in particular, was sceptical about this explanation, he said he'd thought it was the vixen's, " come and get me", mating call.
I said I'd do some research and get back to them :
e-mail 1. :
Dear Stu, Bob and Keith,
Further to our discussion about foxes, I came up with this article in the 'Independent' by Blake Morrison, called: 'The secret life of the fox'.
Like many a London suburbanite, I see foxes several times a day. There's a little concrete gully round the house that they like to pad through and they've an earth down the end of the garden. I've fed them scraps and leftovers; heard those eerie night-cries that sound as though they're killing geese or babies; seen them sunning themselves on the roofs of garden sheds; watched litters of their cubs grow up; laughed as they chase each other round in crazy puppy-play; winced when a mating pair become tied (their genitals inextricably knotted, but their bodies facing in opposite directions - ouch);
Thanks for email. This does not actually say that foxes are in a knot when howling. You need more evidence than this to convince me.
Keith, Stu and Bob,
Keith said he wanted more evidence. Does this convince him ? :
Web article : Why do vixen scream so much during mating?
The vixen's wail is a long, drawn-out, monosyllabic, and rather eerie wail, most commonly made during the breeding season; it is widely thought that it is made by a vixen in heat summoning dog-foxes.
Contrary to common belief, however, it is also made by the males, After the male dog mounts and penetrates the vixen, the bulbus glandis becomes engorged with blood. It forms a spherical structure at the base of the penis, proximal to the os penis. There is a corresponding ridge of erectile tissue in the vixen's vagina; when this becomes engorged behind the engorged bulbus glandis, the penis is trapped within the vagina. This forms a seal to hold the semen within the vixen's reproductive tract, and prevents the couple from separating during copulation when the male turns away from the female.
It is known colloquially as the "knot".
You seem to be arguing my case for me. I did say it was a call made by the female fox summoning the dog fox for mating. I refer to your evidence,
'The vixen's wail. This is a long, drawn-out, monosyllabic, and rather eerie wail most commonly made during the breeding season; it is widely thought that it is made by a vixen in heat summoning dog-foxes. Contrary to common belief, however, it is also made by the males'.
I rest my case.
Furthermore, no where in your evidence does it say the screeching is actually made while knotted - though it is suggested, I would not dispute this if it did. Perhaps we are both right but I am more right than you. Sorry about that, just watched Animal Farm.
Thanks for the info. re. the ....... foxes! As long as they don't do it outside my bedroom window in the middle of the night they are welcome to make as much noise as they like.
Dear Fellow fox followers,
I've changed my mind. The attached You Tube link provides evidence of a whole symphany of fox calls :
No 'knotting' there, but I'd put my money on number 4, being the noise we are talking about - two lady foxes having a fight.
1. Vixen barking
2. Defensive scream male fox
3. Vixen whining
4. Ritual fight between two vixens
5. Chirp from vixen
6. Hungry fox cub
7. Cub chirps.