The attempted predation of a sand goanna (Varanus gouldii) by a juvenile red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Amber Brown, Eamonn Wooster, Gerrut Norval, Michael G. Gardner, Maiken Ueland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Predation is a dynamic process that is directly influenced by resource availability (e.g. prey types), and the health and welfare conditions of the predator (e.g. body condition, health status). When these conditions are altered, predators may need to adapt new modes of predation for survival. On 26 October 2019, a mid-day attempted predation event occurred between a juvenile fox and a subadult sand goanna. This event occurred in an area that has been subject to long-term drought conditions with significant vegetation die-off, which may have influenced the availability of preferred small mammal prey. Additionally, this event occurred in broad daylight, which may be considered risk-taking behaviour for the juvenile fox. Supporting this, the fox was in poor body condition (e.g. underweight with sarcoptic mange). Until this recording, no direct evidence has been reported regarding the predator/prey relationship between the two species. This observation supports that foxes may adopt prey-switching behaviour under certain environmental and health conditions. As drought conditions continue to fluctuate in Australia, it is important that the full scope of fox predatory behaviour is well understood for the future management of Australian ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1028
Number of pages4
JournalAustral Ecology
Issue number7
Early online date19 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • drought
  • mesopredator
  • predator–prey relationship


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