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Are they fox eyes in my spotlight?

The colour of fox eyes can vary depending on many things.

A. The colour of the spotlight being used; HID, halogen or coloured filters will have an effect on the retinal reflection colour you see.
B. The age of the fox may have an effect.
C. How directly the fox looks at the light.
D. The distance between your eyes and the light source (reflective angle) can affect the colour.

What colour am I looking for?

Usually greenish yellow. However white, orange and even red eyes can be a fox.
Cats, sheep, cattle and dogs can share the same colour as foxes. The space between the eyes can sometimes determine whether or not it’s a fox.
The movement of the eyes is the next thing to look for. You may see a fox or a cat blink. A fox’s eye may move quickly whereas most other animals don’t move so quickly. A fox may only give a quick glance compared to a sheep for example.
A fox may be seen apart from a mob of sheep, but sometimes within the mob but moving differently to the sheep’s eyes.
Because other creature’s eye reflections are similar to fox, you must identify the animal before shooting.
Cats, sheep, cattle, wolf spider and fox eyes can look similar in colour.

Deer have particularly bright eyes.  They group together quickly and move quickly when startled.
Animals with a more red appearance are kangaroo, possum and rabbit.

Always positively identify the animal before shooting.

7 thoughts on “Are they fox eyes in my spotlight?

  1. Thanks for your observations Phil
    I would like to make a few clarifications based on my understanding. We are talking about 3 species.
    DOGS Canis lupus familiaris
    FOXES Vulpes vulpes
    CATS Felis silvestris catus or Felis catus
    I frequently tell people that a fox is more like a cat than a dog, but more like a dog than a cat. Clearly 3 different species.
    Foxes technically have dichromatic vision. Dichromatic vision is limited to two colours. Foxes are unlikely to distinguish reds and yellows from purple, blues and greens. This type of blindness is shared by 6-8% of human beings. Ref Animal questions Cats and dogs are similar having more rods for seeing in low light and less cones in their retina that distinguish colour. Most humans have many more cones than rods
    Foxes may hunt similar to cats, but don’t hunt in packs likes dogs or wolves Canis lupus.
    Foxes climb better than dogs but not as well as cats.
    I have cut open over 600 foxes and about 20 cats. Their gut is similar but diet is vastly different. Cats require fresh kill and occasionally carrion. Foxes eat fresh kill, carrion, insects, fruit, grain and anything edible. The reproductive tract of female dogs, foxes and cats is similar.
    Dogs chase foxes, rabbits, cats, rats, mice, chooks, sheep, cars and posties because they know they are not dogs. Dogs even chase other dogs because that is what dogs do.

  2. Just a few quick notes re: foxes and cats.
    Foxes have monochromatic vision, the same as cats, somewhat different to dogs.
    Foxes and cats eyes are the same. During daylight or when having a fixed gaze toward a spotlight, the eyes’ pupils are slits. At night their eyes are round. Dogs are always round, the size varies with the amount of light.
    If you could liken a foxes eyes to a computer, they have excellent “grey scale” vision during daylight, hence excellent movement detection. They have about 6 times better night time vision than us, roughly the same as cats. Dogs, not so good.
    The Diplotic Chromosome count for red foxes is 36, all cats world wide (house, lion, tiger etc) are 36 or 38. All dogs from the Chihuahua to Great Dane are 78.
    Foxes have many other distinctly feline characteristics:
    -they hunt like cats
    -they readily climb trees
    -their gut is almost the same as cats
    -they leap on their prey
    -foxes bite their prey, dogs shake theirs
    -they stalk their prey
    -whiskers on wrists as with cats
    There are many others similarities.
    That’s why dogs chase and kill foxes, they think they’re cats.

  3. Well Mathew you described an event I wouldn’t have to expected to happen either. Thanks for your observation. Graham

  4. I for the first time in my life just saw a fox and two cats playing, would have thought anyone who said that was nuts until the other night.

  5. Hello
    “Almost always”, a fox will display two (2) eyes towards a spotlight. Most other animals, i.e. sheep, cattle, horses etc, show mostly one eye. Koala’s have the closest eye to a fox, yet are much farther apart.
    I was very interested to read a comment in your article in SSAA regarding foxes re, “…who think more like cats than dogs”. In my experience with spotlighting foxes, I have found on quite a few occasions, foxes actually playing with cats, with no animosity towards each other. Perhaps that explains why dogs hate foxes so much.
    Thank you for your fine website.

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