Just wondering both out of curiosity and something to add to my book, how do the nine tailed fox's dreads grow and developed? This is what I wrote so far.

To start the extra tails are actually massive dreads of matted fur extending from the hindquarter which are religiously groomed and stretched with teeth and tongue to resemble a real tail.

Each new dread appears through age.

At the base of the tails there are long, thick hairs which are similar to spines of a hedgehog or a porcupine which help erect them as the fox flares the tails up in a shimmering fan position, which helps with both sexual display and aposematic display.

The problem is how the dreads (first as fur from the fox's rear) are developed and grown before the fox obviously stretch and groom them. I mean what could cause the fur to become dreads through evolution?

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    $\begingroup$ Obviously this is as an animal instead of a mythical creature. I cant imagine how it would turn into a dread naturaly without it being plated. $\endgroup$
    – Necessity
    Oct 29, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ You're right about it being just a animal, it's for a speculative book book I'm doing. $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2016 at 20:44

4 Answers 4


Learned behavior

The starting point for these dreads is going to be the "hedgehog" spines, which start sprouting naturally during fox puberty (and continue with age). From an evolutionary standpoint, these began simply as a mating display (though we've obviously moved beyond that now). Some foxes began "cheating" with the size of their spines by grooming dreads on top of the spines to make them appear bigger, and these foxes had more successful mating displays. Now, that "cheating" is a required part of the foxes' lives.

Ultimately, the grooming of the dreads is entirely a learned behavior that is now inextricably embedded in the foxes' evolutionary patterns, much like mating dances, mating calls, and nest building in other animals.

  • $\begingroup$ @AlexanderR.Hunt Same thing that causes all evolutionary changes: random mutation. The first instance was a freak, but ended up being very successful in breeding for unrelated reasons. Its kids were also very successful, and, eventually, it became part of the mating ritual and the "butt spine" foxes overwhelmed the "flat butt" foxes. $\endgroup$
    – Azuaron
    Oct 30, 2016 at 13:09

According to what I remember from reading Japanese mythology and speaking with a Shinto priest, multi-tailed animals start off as just that, animals. As they age, one hundred years per tail, they eventually undergo a transformation where they literally grow another tail. This transformation also increases intellect and wisdom and size, as well as other characteristics.

The Nine-Tailed Fox is the pinnacle the development tree assigned to the lesser spiritual beings. There are also other animals which develop multiple tails, such as wolves and cats, among others. If they manage to survive 1,000 years they undergo yet another transformation into a "celestial fox" and become a greater spiritual being, apart and separate.

Note that a Japanese "fox" is actually a Tanuki. Thus fox mythology actually came from China to Japan around the 7th century, and was later incorporated into Japanese lore. Originally a malevolent and evil entity, stories and legends of the tanuki and fox became mixed and changed over time. Like the fox, the tanuki is also a trickster shapechanging being, thus this was an easy cross-over. In Japan, the fox was eventually linked with Inari, the rice-god as messengers.

In any case, as the science-based tag is being used, it is theoretically possible that such a fox could have a genetic structure that allows the creature to hibernate every so often and during said hibernation, sprout and grow another tail. It would be likely that there would be bone spurs or nubs present towards the end of the spine which will become the site of new tail growth, somewhat akin to antlers. Again like antlers, the fox could lose the tail and regrow it on a cyclic basis, with increasing numbers of tails being tied to age.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but I think I'll keep the extras as dreads of matted fur $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2016 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ this seems reminiscent of how the tailed beasts in Naruto series $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2016 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ Well, considering that Naruto draws from Japanese mythology, it would stand to reason. $\endgroup$
    – nijineko
    Oct 31, 2016 at 2:44

what could cause the fur to become dreads?

I assure you this happens naturally. My childhood dog, Brandy, was a mix of Irish Setter and Cocker Spaniel. You can look up pictures to see the ears of the Cocker Spaniel and Irish Setter.

Her ears would develop matted fur, we presumed from getting soaked as they would get dunked in her water dish. She also got occasional dreds forming on her butt, where the long fur would touch the bround where she squatted.

So, fur can do that. If it’s intentionally groomed that way, you can suppose the siliva helps form the felt quickly.


Kitsune are not animals! they are like conscious people! their tails come from magic and easily develop through experiences age and understanding of themselves and the world around them!

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    $\begingroup$ Looking at the tags and the question itself, it seems that this answer requires a more scientific precise answer than what you suggested. I think you could upgrade your answer by explaining by what process the tails develop rather than just attributing it to magic and understanding of the world. $\endgroup$
    – user44285
    Dec 23, 2017 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ You are correct to identify the OP's nine-tailed fox as either a Kitsune or derived from a Kitsune. However, the OP is specifically looking to create a creature outside of a magical universe (science-based tag). We do this frequently at WB:SE. Can you expand your answer to better meet the OP's needs? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Dec 23, 2017 at 15:15

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