Do Hawks Eat Foxes?

Having a superior judgment ability, hawks are considered the smartest of raptors.

And so, while they can eat all sorts of animals, they avoid fights that they may potentially lose.

Therefore, most hawks would not hunt large and fierce mammals such as foxes.

That said, 

Hawks regularly hunt for fox kits, as these cubs are relatively easy to target. 

So, if you are asking:

Do Hawks Prey On Foxes?

Usually, they don’t.

Here’s why:

Reason 1: Hawks Find Foxes Intimidating

You see, hawks have compact nerves within their Dorsal Ventricular Ridge, making them quite decisive.

For this reason, these raptors can perceive the risks associated with each hunt.


Hawks avoid taking unnecessary risks with a probability of losing.

Typically, a hawk weighs about 1.5 kg.

Meanwhile, an adult fox can weigh as much as 16 kg, which is about 8 times the size of a hawk

But the raptor is aware of this disparity between the size (figure 1). 

This awareness is evident from the fact that a hawk would not risk fighting a dog of the same dimensions such as a fox.


A fox is equipped with retractable feline-like claws and bone-crushing teeth. 

Furthermore, a fox is an extremely clever animal.

It even leaves false trails behind to confuse its predators. 

Trying to hunt a sly prey like a fox can be a hawk’s last mistake.

Figure 1: Comparison between Hawks and Foxes

Reason 2: Low Chances Of Encounter

Most hawks and foxes rarely ever cross paths. 


Well, because:

  1. Foxes are quite hard to spot. They seldom stroll around for mere leisure. Quite literally, as:

Foxes spend all day hiding in burrows within the ground. 

  1. Foxes have sharp senses. They can hear predators coming towards them. They have whiskers on their faces and even their legs to guide them around. Also,

Foxes can navigate through the earth’s magnetic field.

  1. Foxes can see in the dark, but hawks cannot. Therefore, these two animals don’t share their activity hours. Or you could say

Foxes are nocturnal hunters while hawks are day-light assassins. 

Therefore, a fox is more than likely to encounter an owl or a lion, instead of a hawk.

Reason 3: Hawks Have An Extensive Menu List

Since hawks are obligate carnivores, they can eat several different animals.


Most hawks don’t even need to prey on foxes.

That said, hawks are opportunistic hunters.

And so, they will hunt a fox if they deem it possible. 

Since fox cubs are inexperienced and small enough to be carried away, hawks find these kits as one of their delicacies.

You see, fox cubs are born blind and develop eyesight only after 12-days of birth.

Which is why 

Hawks frequently hunt for fox kits.

Now you may be curious:

How Do Hawks Hunt Foxes?

Well, hawks are born assassins with superior hunting instincts.

Also, they possess skin-tearing talons and sharp curved beaks.


Hawks like to be sneaky and prefer to not get caught in the act.

And so, normally a hawk would swoop down from above and surprise its prey.

The victim will then be grabbed and squeezed to its death.

Then, the hawk flies away with its prize to some hidden place and eats its prey.

But an average hawk can carry only as much as 3 pounds.

So, even if this method is applicable to fox cubs. 

It means most hawks cannot fly away with an adult fox.

So, if a hawk decides to prey on a fox, it must sneak from behind and target the fox’s spine.

This way the fox will be paralyzed.

And then, the hawk will eat the fox while it’s still half alive.

While that may sound simple enough, it actually isn’t.

You see, foxes have ears big enough to hear the slightest of motions.

In fact,

A fox can even hear a rat scuttling through 1m thick ice.

Apart from their voices, foxes can even communicate through their tails and pheromones.

Also, the foxes can smell almost everything. 

So, a fox will hear or smell a hawk around. 

Of course, the hawk is faster than a fox.

But, foxes have greater stamina. 

While a hawk can fly in short bursts of high speed, a fox can run the entire night.

However, let’s say, the hawk does catch that fox, unaware.

Now, if the fox so much as turns around and chews on that hawk’s feathers.

Then the hawk will be unable to keep its swift flight.

Therefore, the hawk will become vulnerable to other predators.

Even if all that doesn’t happen, the hawk will still have to stay and eat the fox on the spot. 

The hawk’s only advantage is that the fox has vertical eyes.

And so, its vision is so focused on the ground that it rarely looks directly above.

Therefore, the hawk can still manage to surprise its victim.

That said, 

Trying to eat a fox is still quite a hassle and not even as much rewarding.

Therefore, hawks avoid eating foxes, unless they are extremely hungry and have no other choice.

If you thought hawks were the most formidable raptors and had it easy.

Then, you may as well wondering: 

What Does a Hawk Eat In a Food Chain?

Normally, hawks stand as secondary or tertiary consumers within the food chain.

You see, hawks are obligate carnivores that eat almost all other animals.

These include:

  1. Insects like grasshoppers, caterpillars, bees.
  2. Amphibians like frogs, toads, and salamanders. 
  3. Reptiles especially lizards, snakes, and tortoises.
  4. Birds including songbirds and even other raptors.
  5. Mammals ranging from small rats and squirrels to large cats, rabbits, and even foxes.

Consequently, most hawks are at the top of the food chains.

That also means hawks are rarely predated upon (as in figure 2). 

Figure 2: Trophic Levels showing Hawk status as the Tertiary Consumers

But whether hawks stand as a secondary or tertiary consumer depends on the availability of prey, as well as said food chain.

Consider the following:

Food Chain:1 

In the following food chain, hawks stand at the third trophic level of the food chain.

Food Chain:2

The following food chain shows at least two successive consumers before ending with hawks.

Food Chain :3

The final food chain shows how hawks prey on snakes, while snakes eat frogs that eat butterflies, and butterflies consume nectar from flowers.

Since hawks stand at the end of most chains, therefore, they consume all kinds of animals.

That said, foxes are not hawks’ usual prey.

What Are The Main Predators of Foxes?

Foxes are prevalent throughout the world.

Therefore, we cannot say with certainty what eat foxes the most.


Owls, Eagles, and Wolves are the most reported fox hunters.

Here is a list of the most common fox hunters.

Hunter Size Speed Hunting Method Remarks
Eagles 3.2-6.7 kg 320 km/hour Swoop down from above and squeeze the life out of the victim. Crowned eagles are the most commonly reported fox predators.
Owls 2-5 kg 90 km/hour Silent nocturnal hunters, knockdown victims and eat them on the spot. Most likely to cross paths with a fox.
Wolves 60-80 kg 70 km/hour Hunt in packs. Most powerful canids.
Mountain Lions 70-100 kg 80 km/hour Ambush in groups and leap onto prey to deliver the death blow. Can navigate through all kinds of terrain to hunt a fox.
Coyotes 21 kg 75 km/hour Stalk and pounce on small prey, otherwise hunt in packs. Natural enemies of foxes.
Badgers 18-22 kg 35 km/hour Trap prey in burrows. Most foxes outrun them.
Lynxes 10-33 kg 80km/hour Stalk and pounce. Competition over food with foxes.
Bears 450-600 kg 40 km/hour Must catch the fox surprised and crush it with embrace. Most foxes outrun them.
Wolverine 25 kg 50 km/hour Rip and bite open vital organs. Actively hunt for foxes.
Foxes 7-15 kg 70 km/hour Sense, stalk and pounce. 20-25% of kits get killed by their siblings.
Humans 60-80 kg 45km/hour Mostly Poison killings, shootings. Kill foxes for fur, sport, to protect farm animals.

Wrapping Up

While hawks regularly hunt for fox kits, they usually avoid hunting foxes.

As these are not only difficult to catch but may also harm a hawk.

Besides, hawks have so many options to eat that hunting for a fox seems more of a hassle.

However, several different animals actively hunt for foxes as mentioned in this article 

Here’s some other related articles you may be interested in

Do hawks eat lizards?

Do hawks eat owls?

Do hawks eat crows?

Do hawks eat rabbits?

Do hawks eat rattlesnakes?


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