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Gray fox

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Description

The Gray Fox is the only member of the dog family that can climb trees, usually to seek refuge or in search of roosting birds. It can reach a speed of 28 mph for short distances and has lived for up to 10 years in captivity; longevity in the wild is probably much shorter.

The Gray Fox is smaller in size than the Coyote – usually 32 to 45 inches long, and weighs 7 to 11 pounds. Its coloration is grizzled gray on top, with a white throat extending underneath; it is rusty-red along the sides. The tail usually has a black mane along the top, with a dark-gray or black tip. Gray Foxes have elongated muzzles and forward-pointing ears.

Habitat

The Gray Fox is a species of canid residing in North and South America. It can be found in Chaparral, wooded areas and among boulders on the slopes of rocky ridges in canyons and open desert.

Relatives

The gray fox is related to the Island Fox very closely. The two species make up the only members of the Urocyon genus.

Diet

Although primarily nocturnal, The Gray Fox may occasionally be seen foraging during the day, seeking primarily small mammals like rabbits, mice and birds, but being an omnivore, it will also eat eggs, insects, fruits, acorns and berries. Insects are an especially important food source in the summer and fall.

Aside from living in a hollow tree, the vixen (female) will sometimes dig her den into soil or enlarge the burrow of another animal. This den may be as much as 75 feet long and can have 10 or more exits. There are also numerous side chambers used for food storage and for the transfer of young, once a chamber becomes too soiled to inhabit.

Life Cycle

The Gray Fox normally mates in February or March, bearing young in April or May. It has a gestation period of about 51 days. Normally there are 3 to 7 pups which are dark brown in color. The pups are born blind and remain so for about 10 days. After about 5 weeks, the young venture out of the den. Pups are usually weaned by 10 weeks. The family is provided food by the father during this period. The family seperates late in the fall. All foxes generally remain solitary throughout the winter.

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