Dear PoPville – Is It Unusual to See a Fox in the Day?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Dear PoPville,

Driving along Beach Dr this morning I saw what appeared to be a chupacabra standing on the side of the road just north of the tunnel, by the zoo. As much as I would love to see a real goat sucker this was likely a fox with a very bad case of mange. It’s uncommon to see a fox out in the middle of the day like that which makes me wonder if he also has rabies. Just wanted to pass this along so you could let all the runners who use Rock Creek know to keep an eye out for this cryptid.

37 Comment

  • Mange is a common skin condition for many wild animals caused by a parasitic mites.

    It has nothing to do with rabies which is a virus transmitted by a bite traveling in the blood ultimately infecting the brain.

    Fox are very common in our area, especially Rock Creek Park.

  • Yeah, I saw a young fox out and about Sunday morning at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, so maybe not so unusual nor rabid. But thanks for alerting people since you assume it was rabid!

  • didn’t take long for the know-it-alls to show up. The OP was saying it may be rabid because its out in daylight and that is unusual. The mange was just a comment of its appearance. I don’t think they implied that the mange was caused by rabies or vice-versa.

    • Seeing a fox during the day is not uncommon – as others are noting.

      I was only trying to add a little clarity to what could be a scary moment for someone running in the park.

      You on the other hand added your nasty little comment.

      Nasty or know-it-all … mmmmm


  • It’s not unusual to see foxes out during the day. Please correct this story!

    • Agree! Please correct. Misinformation with animals can be dangerous for those who want to take matters into their own hands….

    • marisa,

      I submitted this just to make people aware. A lot of people run along that stretch and while foxes can be out during the day, I still think it’s uncommon. Like the article you posted said, “It’s not all that unusual to see a fox out during the day”. ‘Not that unusual’ isn’t quite ‘common’. More than just being out during the day though, it was it’s manner that made me question it’s health. Like Anon posted below, it seemed way too calm and was just walking next to the road. Nothing like the foxes I’ve come across in the past. I have nothing against foxes and think they’re beautiful animals (well, this one wouldn’t score high in the physical beauty department) but I think people need to know to keep an eye out.

  • pablo .raw

    I was walking by Lafayette Park a while ago and saw some tourists feeding the squirrels. I asked them to be careful because I’ve heard that they sometimes squirrels have “rabbis”. The joys of not being a native English speaker! They smiled. Oh well.

  • A week or so ago I think I saw this fox (lighter brown than normal fox color, and much less hairy) when I was running up from the zoo area to adams morgan. It was late morning, and it was just standing in the middle of the road fearlessly looking at me. It eventually started trotting towards me as I ran by. Kinda freaked me out

  • I see a fox during evening walks at least several times a week, but I have never seen one out in broad daylight. Also, about a week ago I saw a squirrel jump in front of two dogs on the sidewalk and then starting biting its own foot while kind of running in a circle. Another person that saw this incident postulated that it too might be caused by rabies.

    There’s probably a more reasonable explanation for these incidents (I had heard that food supplies for local rodents would be low this year and I’m sure the 100+ degree weather isn’t helping), but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has seen erratic behavior from the critters in their neighborhoods.

  • OK – I’ll run the risk of being a “nasty know it all” but –
    1. Yes, foxes are often out in the daytime. I see one about once a week. Though most appear to be extremely vigorous, with gorgeous coats.

    2. While it is of course possible, squirrels rarely get rabies. Nor do rats. Think about it – rabies is transmitted through a bite from another animal. If small mammals like squirrels or rats get bit, they generally get killed and eaten.

    3. The most common wild animal with rabies is racoons – followed, surprisingly, by woodchucks (groundhogs.) Hence the poster I saw recently with a photo of a racoon “Well I just bit you – because I’m crazy – so call your doctor – ‘cuse you have rabies.)

    • sunsquashed

      Sorry to up the “know-it-all” factor on the comments.
      You’re right on points 1&2. A total of 2 cases of rabies in squirrels and rabbits were reported during 2010, and I think it’s for exactly the reason you state (when small rodents get bit, they get eaten).
      Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are lower down on the list of rabies infected animals (29 cases reported during 2009).
      #1- raccoons
      #2- skunks
      #3- bats
      #4- foxes (and this is a way distant 4th)
      #5- cats
      #6- cattle
      #7- dogs
      #8- marmots
      (source, CDC rabies surveillance during 2010)

      • Yes – I didn’t make that clear – groundhogs are the most common (and pretty much only) rodent, not wild animal in general to have rabies.

  • I frequent RCP at least twice a day and spot a fox nearly every visit. There are plenty of them and I’ve yet to witness any behavior that would make me they’re rabid.

  • sunsquashed

    Yeah, as the other posters noted: mange does not equal rabies, and it’s not uncommon to see a fox during daylight hours. Rabies cases in foxes are pretty uncommon (1 case in DC during 2009). I wouldn’t worry about this fox. If this was a warning about a raccoon that was foaming at the mouth, that would be a different story!

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Chiming in – not unusual to see a fox during the day. They occupy the same eco-niche as crows. It is unusual to see foxes and crows at the same time.

  • I saw a good looking, large fox near Ft Totten the other morning while walking to the metro. I was using the cut through at the end of Gallatin. Just trotted out about 50 feet in front of me, casually moving from one grove of trees to another.

    Look out – he was walking with a limp so he is clearly rabid, and he was large so must be some kind of mutant.

  • i’m pretty certain it was a chupacabra.

  • No man, what that was, was a Fox On the Run –

    Dig some Sweet!

  • Look at the photo I took; here’s a fox strutting across the golf course in broad daylight. Don’t worry, they won’t attack humans – you have much more to fear from someone’s poorly-trained pet dog on or off a leash than you do from foxes or coyotes in Rock Creek park. Just leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone.

  • Foxen are the handmaidens of Satan. Traditional folklore says that if you see one in the daylight, a mayor will resign within a month.

  • To all those that see foxes frequently, I say:Lucky you!
    I have lived in DC for almost 50 years and I am still to see one and I go through RC Park quite frequently.

  • I think I saw a silver fox last night. Then I realized that I was watching CNN.

  • Several foxes have lived at Hains Point fox years, they venture well away from there at night. I have seen them on the Mall, the elipse and along the tidal basin, these fellows are not exactly shy of people

  • A couple of years ago, I saw a fox very calmly hanging out in the grassy area at the western end of the P St. bridge across Rock Creek Park(way) in the mid-afternoon. It was curled up near the edge of the woods, watching people walk by. I was convinced it was injured because of the time of day and how unconcerned it seemed about being so out in the open, but during the few minutes it took to get my husband on the phone and find a number for animal control, it got up and leisurely walked back into the woods, no limp or other injuries apparent. Living in Rock Creek Park, these guys must be pretty used to noise, people, and traffic.

  • Well, if the fox was just standing around, that seems uncommon.

    Also, a rabid fox bit someone up in Spring Valley within the last few days… so… yeah watch out for rabid foxes.

    Basically, all mammals, including bats, that are not on a leash, you should avoid. Any animal that doesnt immediately run away when it realizes you are there is of note. If it runs toward you, take evasive actions. Rabies exists out there, so right now isnt any more of a time to be vigilant than any other time.

  • I grew up in the woods of PA and never saw a fox. After several years here I saw one deep in RCP. Now, like deer, they are everywhere all the time. It is absolutely common to see them during the day. I lived for a couple years (recently) at the end of CO Ave. My yard was a fox highway (and a deer lounge) between RCP and Crestwood. Saw that mangy one a couple times, but most of them look healthy.

    Logically, of course, when you have multiple people giving first-hand accounts of day foxes, that trumps all other warnings. Perhaps DC/urban foxes have different habits than foxes in the places where foxes are studied. Animals are resilient and find ways to thrive.

    • Yeah, me too. I grew up in a very rural area, and it was considered a special treat to spot even a white-tail deer. Now, in the heart of the city, I have spotted too many deer to count, foxes, raccoons, and on one occasion, a coyote trotting down Park Road in MtP. Funny, that.

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