Gray Fox: Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Because the gray fox frequently has quite a lot of reddish fur, it may be confused with the red fox. Adults weigh from 7 to 13 pounds and measure up to 40 inches long including a 12-inch tail. The female is slightly smaller than the male. The hair along the middle of the back and tail is tipped in black and has the appearance of a black mane. The face, sides, back and tail are gray, while the under parts are white and the sides of the neck and underside of the tail are a rusty-yellow color. Pups are brownish-black and fully-furred.
The gray fox is found throughout Florida, though it is much more abundant in the northern part of the state. Normally found in wooded areas, it prefers to live in more dense, inaccessible cover.
The gray fox is nocturnal, and while seldom recognized, it has a yapping bark. Sometimes referred to as the tree fox — it is one of the few members of the dog family capable of climbing trees. To climb, they use their front legs to hug tree trunks while pushing up with their hind legs. To get back down, gray foxes will either move backwards down vertical tree trunks or run head-first down more slanted trees.
Mating takes place in January, February or March. An average of 3 to 5 young (pups) are born after a gestation period of about 63 days. They nurse for about two months and stay with their parents until late summer or fall. Both the male and female provide food, care and training to the youngsters. The den site may be hollow logs, gopher holes or hollow trees.
Mice, rats and rabbits are the mainstays of the gray fox's diet, although it will consume almost anything edible. All types of small birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, fruits, berries, insects, and some carrion serve to supplement the diet. The gray fox seldom raids the farmer's hen house, as it prefers to live in wilder, denser brushy cover. While gray fox serve to maintain a balance in the rodent and rabbit populations, they in turn are preyed upon by dogs and bobcats. Young fox may fall prey to owls, hawks or coyotes
Image Credit: FWC