What Does The Fox Say?

Yes, I know, the Ylvis song dates from 2013, and I remember at the time a lot of reference librarians I know were annoyed by dozens of patrons sending in the question “What does the fox say?” every day, but I couldn’t resist, and anyway I still like the song and I think the statute of limitations has passed.

And what reminded me of it is this video of a man serenading a wild fox, which the fox seemed to appreciate:


It’s an interesting thing at this time of because, well, in the United States in a few weeks a lot of people are getting ready to roast and eat a large bird that’s been purposely fattened up, beheaded, plucked, and, in most cases, frozen for shipment across long distances—that is if supply chain issues don’t keep causing trouble. And in Canada they did it a few weeks ago, while in Europe the Christmas goose, or other bird–including the turkey, or, at one time, an imported African fowl–isn’t far from meeting its own demise.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve eaten plenty of Thanksgiving turkey, and plan to eat more, but, to get back to the guy serenading the fox, it did make me think about how our relationship to animals is, to put it mildly, complicated. And that’s partly because we are animals ourselves. We may think that what we call civilization sets us apart but, at heart, our hearts aren’t that different from those of our fellow mammals, which is what makes our interactions with them so layered.

Some animals we love and invite into our homes, some we fear, some we just eat. Foxen are among those that defy easy categorization. They’re metaphors for beauty, cleverness, ruthlessness, they’ve been hunted for their fur, and they’ve been hunted as just vermin. They’re wild creatures and yet there’s a funny line going around of people describing foxen as “dogs running cat software”.

I think that’s one reason the traditional English fox hunt is declining. Well, that and fox populations are declining. And, well, a traditional English fox hunt ultimately only has one goal: to kill the fox. Say what you will about Thanksgiving but at least we eat the turkey.

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  1. mydangblog

    Personally, I find hunting for sport abhorrent. Foxes are beautiful little creatures and I’m always in awe whenever I’m lucky enough to see one!
    mydangblog recently posted…Antique Like MeMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m with you. Foxes really are beautiful animals and I love seeing them in my neighborhood, although seeing them also makes me a little sad. There used to be a wide swath of old farmland that had regrown into mostly woods between our house and the interstate. It was all cut down and turned into a shopping center a few years ago. Before that, I think, it was the perfect haven for foxes and other animals, but now they’ve been forced into the neighborhood where they don’t have as much protection or space.

  2. Ann Koplow

    Hey, Chris! Great post. On “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” yesterday they talked about somebody who had a pet he thought was a puppy, until it ate the neighbors chickens. It turned out the puppy was a young fox. I don’t know what the fox said but it ran away to live another day.

  3. Ann

    Hey Chris! Great post. I heard on “Wait wait don’t tell me” yesterday that some guy had a cute puppy that killed some of his neighbor’s chickens and then they found out it was a fox. I don’t know what the fox said but it ran away to live another day.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I just listened to that episode of “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” too! I really thought the puppy was going to turn out to be a wolf, or even part wolf, but it was even funnier that it turned out to be a fox.


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