Difference Between a Red Fox & a Coyote

By Dana Tuffelmire
A closeup of a red fox.
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The red fox and the coyote are both mammals and have fur, babies that are born fully formed and alive, females that produce milk for their young, and warm-blooded bodies. The red fox and the coyote share more characteristics than differences, but a few things set them apart from each other.

Physical Features

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The fur of a coyote is a mixture of grays, whites, browns and blacks. The red fox has a coat that is more reddish-brown or golden. The red fox is smaller than the coyote. Red foxes range in size from about 18 to 34 inches, with a 12- to 22-inch tail. They weigh in around 6 to 24 lbs. Coyotes are about 32 to 37 inches long, with a 16-inch tail. Coyotes are heavier, weighing in around 20 to 50 lbs.

Habitat

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Both the red fox and the coyote are known for being highly adaptable to diverse habitats. The ranges of both animals includes forests, grasslands, deserts and mountains. The coyotes' range is mostly contained to North and South America and Canada while the red fox population extends from North America and Canada to northern Africa, Europe and Asia.

Diet

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Both red foxes and coyotes are omnivores, eating both plants and animals. Red foxes feed primarily on rabbits, birds, rodents and other small game. Coyotes feed on similar small mammals, but can also kill deer and livestock. Both mammals will adapt to their setting and feed on fish, frogs, snakes, fruit and grasses.

Behavior

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The red fox and the coyote share similar attributes of resourcefulness. Both are known to be sneaky and smart. Coyotes have a keen sense of smell and can run up to 40 miles per hour. They form packs in the fall and winter for more effective hunting, whereas red foxes are solitary hunters. Both red foxes and coyotes form groups to mate and raise young, but coyotes stay in packs and foxes do not. Coyotes are good swimmers and communicate with distinctive calls.

About the Author

Dana Tuffelmire has been writing for DMS for three years. She taught elementary school for seven years and earned a master’s of education degree with a specialization in literacy. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two sons. Her dream is to one day write a children's book.