Attitudes to foxes: Foxes and folklore

Foxes are an important part of human culture, being central characters of many myths and folklore. In the past, they were associated with forces of the supernatural. The Achumawi Indians believed that a silver fox assisted the coyote in preparing the world for the coming of the first people.

The aurora borealis
Aurora borealis

In Finland, the aurora borealis is known as revontulet ("fox fires") because it was believed that the lights were produced by a fox, painting the sky with its tail as it ran through the sky.

Shape shifting is also commonly associated with foxes. In particular, kitsune, or spirit fox, is part of the Shinto religion. In many of these stories, foxes take the form of humans, particularly women, to ensnare unwary humans. Fox shape shifting has also been explored in contemporary western literature, such as Lady into Fox (1922) and The Fox Woman (1999). It is also a key component of Janáček's opera The cunning little vixen (1922-3).


  • Wallen, M. (2006) Fox. Reaktion Books, London.