8 Scientific Reasons Foxes Mate for Life

Featured Image Credit Sumeet MogheCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a well known fact that Foxes mate for life. People sing of their commitment to love and their breeding partner. But why? While scientists have yet to find one definitive reason for this unnaturally monogamous lifestyle, there are many hypotheses which are currently gaining traction in the zoological community. Below are some of these leading theories with varying degrees of scientific legitimacy, though one are proven or have any real evidence. Spoiler alert for all you heart throbs, it’s not True Love or something like that.

1. After the First Litter, they let themselves go

One popular theory explaining fox love and commitment is that foxes do not keep up their young and spry physical physique after they have their first litter. Whether it’s all the late night snacks while taking care of the new born kits, or having less time to exercise and play, Foxologists believe these added pounds cause the male and female foxes to believe that there would be no hope as a single fox again. According to a recent study, a male fox increases his body weight by 20% after the first litter and most of that goes straight to the belly.

2. Fox Mating Awkwardness

Awkward looking Fox Mating Red_foxes_mating.jpg: Carly & Art derivative work: MariomassoneCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fox mating is really, really awkward. They lock up, and just kinda stand there watching for other mates to fight them off. All meanwhile, the Vixen is screaching in all sorts of annoying ways. Of course, the male knew he was getting into this mess because that’s just what the mating call sounds like. Yup, it sounds freaky. By the time the deed is done, it’s just so awkward that the two fox mates don’t want to go through that awful process again with a stranger. Many Foxologists believe that because the urge to mate is so intense between the Vixen and male fox during mating season, that it ends up so awkward that they both trust each other with each other’s dirty kinky weird secrets.

3. Having Kids Early

A Vixen won’t start messing around with infidelity if she doesn’t have the time to be pursued by strange male foxes. Some may think it’s a bit shallow to think that foxes only get together to have sex, but research going back to the 1930’s have shown that foxes only get together during mating season. They’re all shotgun weddings. It’s the only way to get a sly fox to settle down. Of course when these Vixens have their litter of Kits only a few months later, they’re locked in to the relationship. The additional support of the male fox is hard to give up when you have 3-5 yapping kits to feed.

4. Their Sexual Drive is reduced in old age so much it’s just not worth going out to meet other foxes

Peter TrimmingCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just as foxes may only get together to have sex, a diminished sex drive diminishes the desire to have more sex. It’s no coincidence that once this drive goes away, so does the male foxes desire for poofy fox tail. Maybe it has something to do with letting their own body go, or the fact that the male fox is only in the mood the exact same weeks that his mate for life is. Without that unquenchable sex drive, foxes aren’t going to cheat on each other.

5. Fox Dens are too Expensive to afford on a single family income

Zillow listing in a reasonable Fox Neighborhood with good schools

It takes the Vixen, far too much resources and effort to create a viable fox den in order to raise a healthy litter of kits. In this current housing market, it’s unfeasible to be able to afford the time to pick a location in a safe neighborhood with a good school, dig it out yourself, keep it safe, and then keep bringing in enough food to keep a litter alive. It’s just not feasible in this current woodland economy.

6. A Strong Belief in the Atomic Family Structure

RostislavMashinCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the economic hardships of single parenthood, there’s a strong belief that kits just aren’t raised right without a strong father figure. In one heartbreaking zoological experiment, a father fox told his kits he was going out to get some cigarettes. This was when the researcher removed the fox from the family unit. When the fox never came back to raise his kits, the researchers closely watched the maturation progress of the four fox kits. The outcome was devastating. One went to jail for unlawful possession of schedule II narcotics. One got real into anarchist literature. The third got into extreme sports where he died free climbing El Capitan, chasing who knows what. The last, most tragically became a blogger. The experiment was too unethical to continue.

7. Strong Fear of Dying Alone

fox standing on snow covered ground

There’s nothing worse than regret. This is the same with foxes as it is with humans. The potential regret of leaving the safe lifestyle of a fox den atomic family keeps many foxes mating with each other for their entire lives. The social stigma of being an old fox with no kits who love them or a significant other to gracefully approach old age with is social pressure enough which many researchers believe keep many foxes together. These researchers aren’t exactly scientific though because they have yet to find a way of measuring fear of dying alone in wild foxes who typically refuse to answer their surveys. This is entirely based on their intuition.

8. Comprehensive Prenups

After a recent discovery, Foxologists have found twenty in tact documents recording comprehensive and extensive prenuptial agreements in between gentleman and lady foxes. In these agreements, these foxes put an enormous amount of legal pressure regarding post divorce property settlement if infidelity is observed. It’s well known that foxes have extremely close connection with badgers who are often lawyers, so this is no surprise to many modern scientists.

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Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

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