Whether or not foxes have whiskers has been debated for centuries, and it seems to be a matter of opinion rather than fact. Thus, most people are constantly researching animals with these hairs. However, the question; of do foxes have whiskers is mainly left unanswered.
Fortunately, after thorough research, we have compiled this helpful post to help you know whether foxes have whiskers and other useful information you may need. Keep reading!
Read: Do Horses Bleed When in Heat?
Do Foxes Have Whiskers?
Yes, foxes have whiskers on their legs and their face. These features help them to navigate the environment. Additionally, foxes on their legs enable them to maneuver in tall grasses with reduced visibility. Typically, foxes’ whiskers are black with an average length of 3.875- 4.375 inches (100-110 millimeters).
These whiskers are generally long enough to help them achieve great vision during the night. Further, like cats, red foxes trail alone instead of in wolf-like packs.
Why Do Foxes Have Whiskers?
Foxes have whiskers for multiple reasons. Firstly, these features act as GPS to help them move in the environment by providing them with extra sensory input. Also, whiskers on their legs enable them to move in tall grasses with limited visibility.
Whiskers on foxes also have other helpful benefits, which include:
1. For Communicating Emotions
When a fox is resting, its whiskers also take a break. The fox is also active when the whiskers are active. A curious and happy fox lifts his whiskers above his eyes to give him a cute opened-eye appearance. Also, when a fox feels threatened, it pulls its whiskers above his flair, muzzle taut, and moves them towards the treat.
2. For Protection
Whiskers produce a response when touched by small particles. When tiny particles fall close to a fox’s eyes, he blinks or shakes his head to remove them. This process helps him to protect his eyes from possible injury by dust particles.
Similarly, when a fox is walking on a thorny bush or a blade of grass, whiskers help them from being poked or scratched in the eye. Also, whiskers protect foxes from getting into a jam between narrow openings, including rocks and chairs in a room, by helping them determine whether they can pass through these openings safely. Typically, whiskers protect foxes in multiple ways.
3. Balancing the Body
Foxes have unique sensory organs known as proprioceptors positioned at the tips of their whiskers. These organs send signals to the brain regarding the position to keep their limbs and body, including what any other body part is doing. Also, this includes how cats land above their feet.
4. Act as Radar Sensors
Foxes have intense hearing and smelling senses. Generally, whiskers help them send signals to the brain about objects beneath their head. Also, these features detect slight vibrations triggered by variation in air currents by acting as radar detectors.
Whiskers also signal foxes in the wild when there is potential prey or enemies. Similarly, whiskers help pet foxes to locate their food bowls during the night. Generally, whiskers on foxes enable them to hunt at night by preventing them from hitting walls in the darkness.
Whiskers play a vital role in hunting. As previously mentioned, whiskers help foxes to detect movement. This allows them to track prey.
Whiskers are essential in sex. Typically, male foxes have longer whiskers than females. Males use their whiskers to attract the attention of female foxes.
Do Foxes Have Whiskers on their Legs?
Yes, foxes do have whiskers on their legs. However, unlike the ones on their face, these whiskers are shorter than those on their faces. They are usually around 20mm in length.
Foxes use whiskers on their legs to detect movement. In addition, these whiskers enable them to identify a suitable direction where there is reduced visibility. Further, they help foxes to determine the direction of the wind.
What Do Foxes Need Whiskers For?
As mentioned earlier, whiskers are helpful features of foxes. Whiskers facilitate the communication of emotions to foxes, body balance, protection, and act as radical sensors. Generally, these features are paramount for a fox to survive.
Read: Do Black Chickens Keep Hawks Away?
Whiskers also help foxes to detect temperature changes across different locations, protecting them from unsafe temperatures.
How Do Fox Whiskers Work?
The whiskers on foxes work through two different mechanisms. First, they are sensitive to touch. Second, they can sense temperature changes.
1. Touch Mechanism
A fox’s whiskers are made up of hair follicles. Each follicle contains a nerve ending called Meissner’s corpuscles that sends information to the brain. Typically, these nerve endings detect vibrations, objects on lower grounds, and air currents.
2. Temperature Sensing Mechanism
Each whisker follicle contains blood vessels that allow blood to flow across. Therefore, blood flow increases and heats up the whisker follicles when a fox moves. Later, these follicles help foxes to incept a body cooling mechanism to control heat.
Also, whisker follicles have thermoreceptors that are responsible for detecting temperature changes. These receptors are also present on their skin and help send signals to the brain.
How Long are Fox Whiskers?
Compared to other creatures, foxes have long whiskers. Their whiskers grow from the tip of their nose to a length of about 3.875- 4.375 inches (100-110 millimeters). Similarly, whiskers on their legs extend from the tip of the nose to a size of around 50-60 millimeters.
These long whiskers are effective in helping foxes to keep themselves clean. In addition, they protect them from predators. Further, they help foxes locate food and water.
What Other Animals Have Whiskers?
You will easily find whiskers on other animals, including cats, beavers, mice, walruses, mountain lions, manatees, and dogs. However, whiskers have unique functions in each of these animals. For instance, dogs use these features to move in the environment by adding a sensory input.
Similarly, beavers use whiskers to strengthen their poor vision for detecting objects. Whiskers help beavers to locate objects in dark places. On the other hand, whiskers help mice to determine variations in air pressure and touchable objects such as food.
Can Foxes Survive Without Whiskers?
No, whiskers play a significant role in foxes’ survival. Without these features, foxes will have a difficult life. Also, they will be exposed to increased risks of various threats.
Here are the most common threats foxes will suffer if they lack whiskers:
1. Difficulty in Locating Food
Foxes will hardly locate food bowls if they lack whiskers. Since these features enable them to quickly find food bowls, lacking whiskers will expose them to possible chances of starvation and death.
2. Increased Chances of Being Attacked by Predators
Without whiskers, foxes will face more chances of being attacked by predators. This is because predators will not feel any resistance while attacking these animals. Also, whiskers help them to quickly detect changes in air currents which greatly vary with the motion of predators.
3. Exposure to Adverse Temperatures
Whiskers help foxes to sense the temperature of the surrounding area. If they do not have whiskers, they will have difficulty sensing the temperature of the surrounding areas. As a result, they may get injured or even die due to exposure to high temperatures.
4. Lack of Protection from Elements
Since whiskers help foxes stay protected from the elements, they will have difficulty surviving without these features. They will be exposed to harsh weather conditions, leading to dehydration, injury, and death.
Whiskers help foxes easily navigate in the environment. Therefore, if foxes do not have whiskers, it will be difficult for them to move around. Further, this can make them move into risky positions that can risk their life.
6. Reduced Sense of Smell
As mentioned earlier, whiskers help foxes to detect smells. Therefore, they will have reduced senses of smell if they lose these features.
Q: What Are the Different Types of Whiskers on Foxes?
A: There are two types of whiskers on foxes. These include guard hairs and underfur hairs. Guard hairs are longer than underfur hairs and grow from the tip of a fox’s nose to a length of approximately 20-30 mm. On the other hand, underfur hairs are shorter than guard hairs and grow from a length of 10-20mm to 5-10 mm.
Q: Can I Trim Whiskers on My Fox?
A: No, it is not advisable to trim whiskers on foxes. Trimming these hairs will reduce their sensory receptors and their overall functioning. Also, this act is too uncomfortable as these hairs are highly sensitive. Lastly, trimming these hairs will limit the fox to stay in a comfortable environment.
Q: How Do Foxes Use Their Whiskers?
A: Foxes use their whiskers to find out about their environment. For instance, they use their whiskers to identify whether there is something edible nearby. In addition, they use their whisker to identify changes in air pressure.
Foxes have whiskers on their face and limbs. Their whiskers are long compared to other animals, including cats and dogs. Typically, these features significantly contribute to the survival of foxes.
For instance, whiskers help foxes to navigate in susceptible environments with much ease easily. Similarly, they allow them to detect food bowls in the house and other places. Therefore, you should always aim to protect whiskers on foxes and never attempt trimming them short.