Gray Fox

Until I moved to my cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, if I had any thoughts of a fox, it was a Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes, with a rusty red coat, black legs and white tipped tail.  I quickly learned that there is another fox that lives up here at 1800 feet.  Slightly smaller than a Red Fox, the Gray FoxUrocyon cinereoargenteus, generally weighs between 8 and 15 pounds, and in length is between 30 and 44 inches, with about one third of that being its tail. The male Gray Fox is usually larger than the female.

The coloring of the Gray Fox is salt and peppery on his back. His sides, back of his head and legs are rusty red, reminiscent of the Red Fox.  His long, lush tail is the same salt and pepper as his back, with a stripe of black on top.  Unlike the Red Fox, the Gray Fox has no snow white tip on his tail but a tip of coal black. A new born kit is generally dark brown.

The Gray Fox has an elegant, long, very strong neck. He is equipped with hooked claws, which allows him to easily climb trees, to escape predators or to forage for fruit.  To get down from the tree, he will bound from branch to branch, or comes down backward, as a house cat would do.

The Gray Fox is an omnivore, dining on cottontails, mice, voles, shrews, insects, as well as birds. But I became aware of the Gray Fox as he would come to eat the sunflower seeds that I put out for the birds.  Yes, like Black Bears, Gray Fox also eat seeds and berries! They also eat roots and tubers. If their food supply is plentiful, they will cache their extras, digging a hole with their forepaws and burying the extras.

The Gray Fox is monogamous and has a gestation period of 53 days with the litter size ranging from 1 to 7 kits.  The life span of a Gray Fox is from 6 to 8 years, both in the wild and in captivity.  Predators of the Gray Fox are Bobcats, Great Horned Owls, Coyotes and Golden Eagles.  Along with escaping by climbing trees, they will hide in brush piles or other cover to avoid capture.

The Gray Fox prefers the isolation of deep woods, while the Red Fox is more adaptable and can deal with changes that humans present to their territory.  The Gray Fox sounds like me in that respect.  I enjoy my home far from the maddening crowd!

Along with so many other critters that live in these woods around my home, the Gray Fox is a welcome sight, and one that delights me whenever one or two stop by for a visit.

 

 

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Comments

    • Brenda Clements Jones says

      Kathy, the Gray Fox has intrigued me, I guess I could say the same of the Red Fox. They seem to me, like the Moose, put together by committee! They seem so cat-like, and then there is my photo of one on my lane – not sure what sort of animal that one looks like! I guess a FOX!!! As for the predatory birds – ah the food chain! Both those birds are mighty BIG and the Fox is one pretty small animal! I’m enjoying getting to know you via blogs!

  1. Marilyn says

    I, too, was surprised to learn that the great horned owl and eagle are predators.
    But rechecking what you wrote about their size, at only 8-15 pounds, they would seem to be in the weight range. These foxes are just stunning! Thank you.

    • Brenda Clements Jones says

      Marilyn, so glad you stopped by to read my post! It *does* surprise me how small the Foxes are! My! That’s just the size of some cats! And Great Horned Owls and Eagles are mighty mighty big! Happy New Year to you and yours!

      • Marilyn says

        Without anything of known size in the background to help compare, they seem bigger in the photos than they actually must be. But my “small” chihuahua/beagle mix that weighs more than 15# and I never dreamed they would be smaller than that. Your photos are just too lovely! These foxes look more shy than sly.

        Is there any critter out there that doesn’t like sunflower seeds? They must be the most versatile food of all time. Birds, squirrels, and even our dogs chow down on them. We eat them, too, shelled and unsalted. But foxes, who knew? I am determined to plant some native sunflowers next year.

        I just checked out “Tendrils.” Wonderful site, and I’ll be visiting again. I was particularly taken with the ice storm photos and will leave a comment on that entry.

        • Brenda Clements Jones says

          Marilyn, I believe that part of the size confusion comes from their fur, which is quite fluffy. I can relate to that to some degree since I have a “GrandKitty” that often comes to visit with my son and daughter-in-law. The GrandKitty is a Maine Coon Cat and also is very fluffy. Deceptive in size!

          Dogs even like sunflower seeds! That’s funny!

          Thank you for the kind words about my posts and my photos. Stay warm!

  2. Carole says

    We had a grey fox visiting a couple of years ago. We were surprised at how dainty it seemed. I was also surprised by your list of predators, but then recalled a friend who witnessed a full grown possum being taken by a great horned owl. Those talons work well.

    • says

      Carole, both the Gray Fox and the Red Fox really baffle me, in the way that they resemble a feline, rather than a canine, in so many ways! And then, there is the look that I captured in the photo of the Gray Fox down my lane, looking so much like, what, a weasel? Bill has just pointed out a skeleton that is in our vegetable garden. I’m wondering what it is/was. Seems like a fox, raccoon, or opossum. I MUST do some research and figure that out. I guess that is our world, you and I, always doing research!?! Despite the bitterness of the cold we’ve just been through, I am happy that it has happened, maybe our world will be less populated with stinkbugs and ticks this coming spring. In any event, you keep warm!!
      brenda clements jones recently posted..Dung Beetle

    • says

      Loret! Thanks bunches for your kind words! I guess I’m lucky, in part to live here in the “wilds” of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I think, perhaps, I would not see any of these foxes, except for the fact that I feed the birds. The sunflower seeds seem to entice them! But when I had a “city” life, in Arlington, Virginia, I would on occasion see a Red Fox. They are much more tolerant of what we humans do to their world. Stay warm!

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