Stump the librarian: What the fox says

Greetings, Ylvis  dearest Grizzlies:

There were a few that heeded my call into the wild for the hardest questions around.  You have yet to even cause me to have even the slightest of palpitations as I ponder my responses, however.  Consider this entry:


Q.  What does the fox say?

Sometimes a questioner does not really want an answer.  There are occasions where the question reveals more of the person inquiring—in this case, perhaps, one’s taste in music.  Let’s see, though, how I might help someone with this question using our collection.

Many knowledge seekers want to turn first to our online databases.  To construct a query, you want the correct terms.  In this case, “say” would not be a useful keyword, as it is an action verb and doesn’t really describe the idea we are looking for when combined with the term “fox”.  

Rather, one should consider terms such as “vocalization” or “call” or even the generic “sound” in order to get at the topic.  A quick search using “fox” and “vocalization” in LibraryOnesearch—minus the quotation marks, as they are single terms!—brings up many intriguing results from the scholarly literature, including these:

 nMurdoch, J. D., Ralls, K., Cypher, B. L., & Reading, R. P. (2008). Barking vocalizations in San Joaquin kit foxes (vulpes macrotis mutica). The Southwestern Naturalist, 53(1), 118-124.

n Gogoleva, S. S., Volodin, I. A., Volodina, E. V., Kharlamova, A. V., & Trut, L. N. (2009). Kind granddaughters of angry grandmothers: The effect of domestication on vocalization in cross-bred silver foxes. Behavioural Processes, 81(3), 369-375. 

Another place to look might be in our book collections—for example, we have many online encyclopedias that might give an overview of the animal.  One physical book we own also provides this tidbit:

More solitary species such as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) may call in a more aggressive manner to deter potential rivals.  Study of their calls has revealed that again, individuals can be recognized by their distinctive intonations.  

They bark most often in the winter months, leading up to the mating period, especially on cold, moonlit nights.  (David Alderton, Foxes, Wolves and Wild Dogs of the World, New York: Facts on File, 1994: p. 52, call number QL 737 .C22 P44 1994)

From scanning all these sources, it does appear that we have an answer.  Foxes, as a member of the canine family, have a call similar to their domesticated brethren:


The Fox (sometimes) goes ‘woof.’

Of course, one might also be looking for a certain YouTube music video, which The Librarian could provide assistance in locating.  Serious scholars that you all are, though, I am sure that was not the case.

As usual, if you seek answers, we’ve got them—24/7!  See our Ask a Librarian page for how to email, chat with us, or otherwise locate animals from the genus Librarianus.  

Try and stump me next week here: or [email protected]