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The difference between fox and badger skulls


One of the most common emails I get is asking whether a certain skull is a fox or badger skull. These can be easily confused because they are the same size, shape, can be found in the same area and are two very common woodland animals in the UK. It will be even harder to tell apart if you only have a fragment of the skull.

So...if you find a medium sized skull, how do you know whether it's a badger or fox ? Read on to find out...

First things first...

If you find either a fox or a badger, you can tell these things straight away:

  • They both have teeth all the way around the mouth, unlike sheep or deer, which have a big gap between the front and back teeth. They also have a variety of different shaped teeth. Both these things mean that they are not herbivores.
  • The size of the skull is a good indication of the size of the whole animal. A cat skull is 10cm long, and a roe deer is about 21cm long (with the nasal bones). Both these will be about 13-16cm long in adults, so you can tell they are somewhere between the size of a cat and a roe deer.
  • The eye sockets on both are on the front of the head, not the sides. This is an animal that hunts, rather than is hunted.
  • You can also tell whether it is an adult or juvenile skull by whether there are teeth still emerging at the back of the mouth.

Skull size

Both skulls are a similar size, but foxes are generally bigger. However, there is some overlap because a juvenile fox skull will be smaller than an adult badger.

Badger skulls are about 13 cm long - slightly smaller than a fox. They feel more thick and more robust than the fox and also feels more heavy because the bone is more dense. The top of the skull is more of a curve.  Both can have really big sagittal crests, which shows that they have really strong jaws, because this is where the jaw muscles attach, but badger crests tend to be bigger. Fox skulls are around 14cm long and are more sleek and flat than badger skulls, with larger eye sockets. The top of the fox skull is flat with a small dip at the start of the nose.

The jaws

Simple test: is the jaw locked into the skull? If it is then it is a badger skull. If not, then it could be a fox or it might still be a badger whose lower jaws were broken or unfused at the very front. The badger jaw hinge allows the muscles to pull tight on the jaw without the risk of dislocating it.

The badger jaws are more short and more stubby than the foxes. The pictures above shows the skulls, the one on top is the badger and the one on the bottom is the fox.


When you look at the fox skull, you can clearly see the sutures (the joins on the plates on the skull), but when you look at the badger skull, there are none to be seen, because the bone fuses much more firmly in the badger. Badgers are tough.


Foxes have a longer, sleeker mouth with more teeth than badgers.

In the top picture, foxes have six front incisors, two canines (which are quite thin), then six back teeth, which are all sharp foxes eat a lot of meat. 

The badger's teeth (in the second picture) are kind of the same, with six incisors, then two canines (which are short and fat), but badgers only have four back teeth. The very back teeth are flat for mashing up earthworms.

The simple test is the number of teeth behind the canines on each side: foxes have six, badgers have four.

Ear bones

Ear bones (auditory bulla) can be seen by turning the skull upside down. 

In the top picture, the fox's ear bones bulge out, and have a large hole in front of them on the underside of the skull.

In the bottom picture, the badgers ear bones are flat, with no hole in front of them at the top.

Top ridge

Both skulls have a Y-shaped ridge at the top. On the fox (on the left) it is more gradual as it slopes down to make the sagittal crest. On the badger, it is further forward, and less gradual.

In the end, though, it doesn't matter too much which one you find: they are both great skulls to find with loads of interesting features !

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Damien Daniels said...

Hi great readingg your blog

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