Mob Menagerie: Fox
Comes in kit form!
What’s fast and cunning, sleepy and hungry, and comes in red or white? It’s our mob of the month, the fox. These cunning critters rank high in the list of Minecraft’s most adorable animals! Never mind that it's MY list – I'm sure you agree!
Foxes were first showcased at Minecon Earth 2018, and when taiga won the biome vote, they were added to the game in the Village & Pillage update a year later. Shy creatures of habit, they generally try to keep their distance from the player, much like ocelots do. They spawn in taiga, old growth taiga, snowy taiga, and grove biomes in groups of two to four. They also come in two variants – red and white – depending on whether their spawn biome is snowy or not.
Foxes generally spend their days asleep in a dark place. At night, though, they’ll wake up and roam the taiga, sometimes hunting other mobs – including chickens, rabbits, baby turtles, cod, salmon, and tropical fish. Some might try to locate a nearby village and steal chickens. They also screech at night – if you hear a loud, weird noise in the darkness, it’s probably a fox. Probably.
Adding to the cuteness factor, foxes are naturally curious and will quite often pick up items they find lying on the ground. There are two ways to get the item back – the first way is to kill the fox. Sad face. But the much kinder way is to give it something else it likes to eat, like a sweet berry. If you’re lucky, it’ll drop the item and pick up the food instead. The story behind this mechanic is an interesting one, and best told by resident fox expert and Gameplay Designer, Cory Scheviak.
When developing foxes, we used the same equipment system that all mobs use. In code, this meant that fox's 'main hand' ended up being their mouth. So when a fox picks up an item in their mouth, their code thinks they're holding that item in their main hand. This allows them to, for instance, eat food. It also, however, allows them to gain the benefits of the weapon they are holding. So if a fox holds a diamond sword in its mouth and attacks something, it uses the damage from the sword to hurt its prey. While this wasn't part of the original design, it quickly became such a fun part of the fox's behavior that we ended up adopting it into the final design!Cory Scheviak
Breeding foxes is not easy, because of their tendency to run away from the player. If you can get hold of two foxes, though, and feed them either sweet berries or glow berries, then they’ll produce a baby fox – known as a kit. This newborn fox will be tame, not running away from you, though it’ll still follow adult foxes if they run away, so a lead can be helpful for keeping it nearby.
In the real world, foxes are, biologically speaking, a type of dog. They live on every continent in the world, except for Antarctica, with about 37 different species – ranging from the common red fox to the critically endangered Darwin's fox, which lives in a national park in Chile.
Foxes tend to be happy in all kinds of habitats, from the desert to the arctic, from mountains to plains. They’re also increasingly common in the world’s cities, where they take advantage of human food supplies. While foxes have historically been seen as a nuisance to farmers – hunting their chickens or rabbits – they very rarely attack humans.
While dogs have become increasingly domesticated over the millennia that they’ve interacted with humans, foxes have generally not. However, in the second half of the 20th century, a Russian geneticist named Dmitry Belyayev conducted a 40-year experiment where generations of foxes were bred to become friendlier to humans. After about ten generations, the foxes were no longer frightened of humans and began wagging their tails to show happiness.
But why spend 40 years when you can just tame a fox in Minecraft instead? All the joy of owning a pet fox, without any of the time investment. Just one of the many things that we do for you at Mojang. You’re welcome!
- Duncan Geere