“beware of the screaming fox and protect your small dogs!”

by Prince Of Petworth May 6, 2016 at 9:45 am 45 Comments

screenshot of youtube clip filmed by Ki Steiner

“Dear PoPville,

Michigan Park/Fort Totten residents: beware of the screaming fox and protect your small dogs!
I live in North Michigan Park just behind the Fort Totten Metro. Apparently we have a neighborhood fox, a screaming fox, that frequents my block. A few nights ago around 1:00 am, my husband and I heard what we thought was a woman screaming, and looked out the window to see a red fox chasing a small dog down the sidewalk. My husband ran outside to find the fox standing a few feet from the small dog who was desperately trying to get back into his yard under the fence. My husband yelled and charged at the fox and it ran off, but the dog did appear a little roughed up. The dog’s owner eventually came outside due to the dog’s yelping, and we explained what we saw.

I thought that incident would teach the neighbor not to let her dog out late at night by itself, but again, last night at 2:00 am, I was woken up by the screaming noise of the fox followed by a small dog crying.

I don’t mind the fox living in my hood, but honestly, the screaming noise is unbearable, waking up my family in the middle of the night. Plus, the fox appears to be a danger to the dogs in the neighborhood. Not sure if I should call animal control or if this is just a part of nature?

Here is a YouTube video of a fox making the same screaming noise:

  • smerd

    what does the fox say?

    • the fox


    • Captain Obvious

      Vote for Trump?

  • also anon

    Well that noise is terrible and I’m sorry it’s waking you up but….. nature. If anything I hope you call animal control on the neighbor who lets her dog run wild. I hope you don’t call animal control on the fox just because it’s bothering you.

    • textdoc

      ” If anything I hope you call animal control on the neighbor who lets her dog run wild.” That sounds like a good idea for the sake of the dog… although if the neighbor can figure out that it was the OP who reported her, that could lead to friction.

    • Alex

      Yeah, it seems to me the real problem here is people letting their dogs stay outside at night. Killing all the wild animals isn’t a solution.

      • transplanted


  • ke

    Yeesh, I did not know that a screaming fox was a thing. I’d say call Animal Control and see what they have to say. Maybe it’s appropriate to relocate the fox to a less dense environment? That fox is a danger to domesticated animals, and such animals and cars, etc are probably a danger to the fox too. And maybe they would talk to your neighbor about not letting that poor little dog out by itself at night.

    • transplanted

      I think it’s the sound all foxes make, it’s not like a specific species of fox.

  • Call Animal Control! Worst case scenario, this fox could be rabid (there have been a few instances of late with rabid foxes & raccoons in/near Rock Creek Park).

  • Lisa

    Doesn’t look aggressive or sick looks like a randy male, maybe young and inexperienced, trying to find a mate. And that’s a normal fox sound. Though if I had a small dog I would not let it out.

    • I don’t think the photo/video is from the OP, but rather an example of the type of noise.

      • LIsa

        Aha. Indeed it is. But my goal of minimizing alarm is unchanged.

  • bewarez


  • jcm

    Foxes are very adaptable to urban environments, and animal control won’t remove them, unless they suspect rabies. On the bright side, they eat rats.

    • Alan

      Any animal that eats rats is a plus in this town. Drop him off in the alleyways of H St NE and let him work.

  • marybindc

    I actually googled “why does a fox scream” because I was genuinely curious (and a bit worried for the OP’s neighborhood dogs). Looks like aggression and territory marking, which would make sense given the dogs that were out, unknowingly treading on their territory.

    National Geographic has a video of this exact scream:

    Probably should call animal control in hopes of placing it somewhere else, in case it gets more aggressive about its territory.

    • marybindc

      Oops, just saw JCM’s post, so maybe animal control isn’t your answer.

  • So, Just Sayin’

    Are there any legal ways of trying to kill it?
    We have a deer overpopulation problem, rabid raccoons, aggressive foxes — what’s next, bears?

    • CVR

      Why on earth would you want it killed if it’s not rabid? How inhumane :( The fox is just doing what foxes do. As someone said above, they are good in that they eat rats which we have a plethora of. It’s the owner of the poor dog who’s in the wrong here (imho) not the fox.

      • Ally


      • Smilla


        While I see why it’s disruptive, I’d prefer to hear the sound of a fox screaming than people screaming or sirens wailing or jackhammers pounding.

    • Captain Obvious

      Don’t forget coyotes, DC has those too.

  • I Dont Get It

    But she was so good in “Transformers”!

  • jillbabette

    Hi, I am the reader who sent in the original post. The fox in questions does not look as healthy as the one in the video. The “Fort Totten Fox” is skinny and its tail is missing a lot of its fur. I would only call animal control because I am questioning how healthy this fox is, and if this behavior is indicative of a condition that may be a danger to the neighborhood (like rabies?) The wildlife and natural surrounding of DC is a big part of why I love this city. My concern is if this is normal behavior for a fox or if it is an indication that the fox is sick. And I agree, my neighbor is not a responsible dog owner and it saddens me that she keeps putting her dog out at night even when she is aware of the fox situation. I did some research and it seems that this screaming noise is mostly used to mark their territory or as a mating call.
    I’m curious if anyone else has seen/heard the fox.

    • CVR

      I’d suggest calling animal control and let them make the determination. It could be mange which is making the fox LOOK unhealthy or it could be something serious.

      • textdoc

        Mange is actually pretty serious (at least for the fox).

        • anonymouse_dianne

          There are two types of mange – one is much more serious. The other is easily treated.

          • textdoc

            Interesting — I didn’t know this. (I figured that the main problem with mange for foxes was that weren’t domesticated animals with owners who can treat them.)

    • Duponter

      or it could look like that because it is hungry and that is why it was trying to eat Fido.

      What happened to the dog the second night when you heard the dog crying? Did you check that time? What morons just let their dogs run around the city unattended?

    • dogsgalore24

      Hi, I strongly suggest you call animal control. They will tell you what to do and/or who to call about the fox. And while you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to let them know about the irresponsible dog owner.

  • MarthaB

    This fox has been making me crazy!! I live next to Rock Creek Cemetery not far from the metro, and since I moved here in November, this fox has been waking me up in the middle of the night and scaring the crap out of me and my cat. I actually recorded the noise and was trying to listen to fox and raccoon sounds on YouTube to ID it for sure. My neighbor was shining a flashlight out there one night while we could both hear the screaming, it’s so loud and unsettling! That night it was around 8pm (it was winter and darker early) but usually I heard it around 3am. It’s been about a month since I heard it though. Seems like it migrated your way!

    • jillbabette

      I’ll make sure to tell the fox that you miss him and send him back your way :) It really is crazy how loud this thing is, it sounds like a horror film outside my window every night. I guess I should be grateful that the reason the fox scream is so irritating is because I live in such a quiet pocket of the city and I’m not used to this level of noise outside my window.

      • MarthaB

        Nooo there are kitties and a fat raccoon that are enjoying his absence!!

  • anonymouse_dianne

    The screaming is normal for foxes marking territory. Foxes and crows occupy the same ecological niched and I have heard foxes screaming like this at crows.

  • textdoc
  • Brett M

    Their population must be rising fast because there have been a lot of sightings lately. One ran out in front of my car earlier this week–and it’s rare to see foxes during the day and around moving vehicles.

    • NERes

      I was wondering if their population is on the rise too. I saw two recently–one by Costco off New York Ave and one strolling along the walking path adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool.

    • KPS

      There was one and her babies in Takoma Park just a few weeks ago. I photographed one in the backyard. Lovely animal. I was excited and super-grateful to have gotten a pretty great shot though the kitchen window.

  • Anonymous

    Is letting your small dog out to roam the neighborhood (or knowing that it will leave your yard and roam the neighborhood) a thing?

  • KPS

    Nature. We need to be patient about sharing turf with the wildlife. Accept it and just try to sleep the best you can. And small dogs don’t belong out alone at night. I use a small fan as white noise and it helps A LOT. As a side note: that fox’s ears are AWESOME.

  • Captain Obvious

    If someone doesn’t open a bar named The Screaming Fox then I will.

  • wpk_dc

    I’d say the screaming fox is just part of nature. And frankly we’re lucky that our city can sustain such wildlife. The problem is definitely the owner of the small dog off leash. I’d report the owner to the police (vs the fox to animal control).


Subscribe to our mailing list