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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Gray foxes are adept at climbing trees. They are active at night and during twilight, sleeping during the day in dense vegetation or secluded rocky places. Nursing mothers and pups use a den— a hollow log, abandoned building, tangle of brush, or cracked boulder—for shelter. When she is nursing small pups, the female stays within a few hundred meters of the den, but otherwise adults may range over a 2—5 square km area. Pups begin to forage on their own at about four months of age, and maintain close ties with the mother until they are about seven months old. By about ten months, both males and females are old enough to reproduce, and most females will have a litter annually from then on.

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  • Original description: "Schreber, J.C.D., 1775.  in Schreber's Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen, Wolfgang Walther, Erlangen, 7 volumes, 1774-1846; 2(13):pl. 92[1775]; text: 3(21):361[1776]."
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado in the west and the U.S.-Canadian border in the east, south through Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia and Venezuela (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). See Steers (1979 COSEWIC report) for information on distribution in Canada.

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Range Description

The Grey Fox ranges from the southern edge of central and eastern Canada, and Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Colorado in the United States south to northern Venezuela and Colombia; and from the Pacific coast of the United States to the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. The species is not found in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States, or in the Caribbean watersheds of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and western Panama.
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Geographic Range

Gray foxes occur throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to northern Venezuela and Colombia. They do not occur in portions of the mountainous northwestern United States, the Great Plains and eastern Central America.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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The range of common gray fox extends from extreme southern Canada to northern
Venezuela and Columbia, excluding portions of the northern Rocky
Mountain region, the northern Great Plains, and eastern Central America
[16].  Common gray fox range has expanded in the last 50 years to areas
formerly unoccupied and areas where common gray fox had been extirpated
including New England, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Ontario, Manitoba,
North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah [9].

Ranges of subspecies follow [16].

U. c. borealis occurs in New England and southern Ontario.

U. c. californicus occurs from southwestern California to northern Baja
California.

U. c. cinereoargenteus occurs from southern Massachusetts and
Connecticut west to Lake Michigan and Illinois; south to central South
Carolina; and west to the Mississippi River.

U. c. floridanus occurs from southern South Carolina south to Florida
and west to eastern Texas; it occurs along the Gulf Coast excluding
Louisiana.

U. c. ocythous occurs in Wisconsin and extreme western Illinois; from
Missouri and Arkansas west to Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota,
North Dakota, and extreme southern Manitoba and Quebec.

U. c. scottii occurs from western Texas north through northern Colorado
and Utah to the southern half of Nevada; and from California east of the
Sierra Nevada southeast in Mexico to Chihuahua.

U. c. townsendi occurs in northern California and western Oregon.
  • 16. Hall, E. Raymond. 1981. The mammals of North America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1271 p. [14765]
  • 9. Fritzell, Erik K.; Haroldson, Kurt J. 1982. Urocyon conereoargenteus. Mammalian Species. 189: 1-8. [25971]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    7  Lower Basin and Range
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains

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Occurrence in North America

AL AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA IL
IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN
MS MO NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND
OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT
VT VA WV WI WY MB ON PQ MEXICO

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Geographic Range

Gray foxes are found in the lower half of the Nearctic and northwestern part of the Neotropics. More specifically, their range spans from southern Canada to Venezuela and Columbia, excluding portions of the Great Plains and mountainous regions of northwestern United States and eastern coast of Central America.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

  • Fritzell, E., K. Haroldson. 1982. Urocyon cinereoargenteus. Mammalian Species, 189: 1-8.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Gray foxes resemble small, slender dogs with bushy tails. They are distinguished from most other Canidae by their gray upperparts, buff neck and black-tipped tail. Males are slightly larger than females. Gray foxes range from 800 to 1125 mm in length. Their tails measure 275 to 443 mm and their hindfeet measure 100 to 150 mm. They weigh 3.6 to 6.8 kg.

Range mass: 3.6 to 6.8 kg.

Range length: 800 to 1125 mm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Physical Description

Fully grown gray foxes display a mix of white, red, black and gray fur. However, new born pups tend to be dark brown. Gray foxes are medium-sized canids with elongated bodies and relatively short legs. They usually weigh between 3 and 5 kg, but can weigh up to 9 kg. Individuals at high elevation are slightly larger than their low elevation counterparts. Males are slightly larger than females, and skeletal measurements show that males have longer pelvises and calcanea, wider scapulae and more robust limb bones. In general, gray foxes can grow up to 1 m in length. Their tail makes up approximately one-third of their total body length and has a distinct black stripe along the dorsal surface and a black tip. The top of the head, back, sides, and rest of the tail are gray with the belly, chest, legs and sides of the face being reddish brown. The cheeks, muzzle and throat are white. Gray foxes have oval-shaped pupils and the area around the eyes has a thin black stripe from the outside corner of the eye to the side of the head. Additionally, a thick black stripe runs from the inside corner of the eye, down the muzzle to the mouth. They are sometimes misidentified as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes); however, red foxes have slit-shaped eyes, larger feet, longer legs, and a leaner body.

Range mass: 2 to 9 kg.

Range length: 800 to 1125 mm.

Average length: 1000 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Size

Length: 113 cm

Weight: 5900 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: None

Length:
Range: 800-1,130 mm

Weight:
Range: 3-7 kg
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Ecology

Habitat

Chihuahuan Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is one of the most biologically diverse arid regions on Earth. This ecoregion extends from within the United States south into Mexico. This desert is sheltered from the influence of other arid regions such as the Sonoran Desert by the large mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres. This isolation has allowed the evolution of many endemic species; most notable is the high number of endemic plants; in fact, there are a total of 653 vertebrate taxa recorded in the Chihuahuan Desert.  Moreover, this ecoregion also sustains some of the last extant populations of Mexican Prairie Dog, wild American Bison and Pronghorn Antelope.

The dominant plant species throughout the Chihuahuan Desert is Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata). Depending on diverse factors such as type of soil, altitude, and degree of slope, L. tridentata can occur in association with other species. More generally, an association between L. tridentata, American Tarbush (Flourensia cernua) and Viscid Acacia (Acacia neovernicosa) dominates the northernmost portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The meridional portion is abundant in Yucca and Opuntia, and the southernmost portion is inhabited by Mexican Fire-barrel Cactus (Ferocactus pilosus) and Mojave Mound Cactus (Echinocereus polyacanthus). Herbaceous elements such as Gypsum Grama (Chondrosum ramosa), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Hairy Grama (Chondrosum hirsuta), among others, become dominant near the Sierra Madre Occidental. In western Coahuila State, Lecheguilla Agave (Agave lechuguilla), Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), Purple Prickly-pear (Opuntia macrocentra) and Rainbow Cactus (Echinocereus pectinatus) are the dominant vascular plants.

Because of its recent origin, few warm-blooded vertebrates are restricted to the Chihuahuan Desert scrub. However, the Chihuahuan Desert supports a large number of wide-ranging mammals, such as the Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), Robust Cottontail (Sylvilagus robustus EN); Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Grey Fox (Unocyon cineroargentinus), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Collared Peccary or Javelina (Pecari tajacu), Desert Cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), Kangaroo Rats (Dipodomys sp.), pocket mice (Perognathus spp.), Woodrats (Neotoma spp.) and Deer Mice (Peromyscus spp). With only 24 individuals recorded in the state of Chihuahua Antilocapra americana is one of the most highly endangered taxa that inhabits this desert. The ecoregion also contains a small wild population of the highly endangered American Bison (Bison bison) and scattered populations of the highly endangered Mexican Prairie Dog (Cynomys mexicanus), as well as the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

The Chihuahuan Desert herpetofauna typifies this ecoregion.Several lizard species are centered in the Chihuahuan Desert, and include the Texas Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum); Texas Banded Gecko (Coleonyx brevis), often found under rocks in limestone foothills; Reticulate Gecko (C. reticulatus); Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus); several species of spiny lizards (Scelopoprus spp.); and the Western Marbled Whiptail (Cnemidophorus tigris marmoratus). Two other whiptails, the New Mexico Whiptail (C. neomexicanus) and the Common Checkered Whiptail (C. tesselatus) occur as all-female parthenogenic clone populations in select disturbed habitats.

Representative snakes include the Trans-Pecos Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis), Texas Blackhead Snake (Tantilla atriceps), and Sr (Masticophis taeniatus) and Neotropical Whipsnake (M. flagellum lineatus). Endemic turtles include the Bolsón Tortoise (Gopherus flavomarginatus), Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene coahuila) and several species of softshell turtles. Some reptiles and amphibians restricted to the Madrean sky island habitats include the Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi), Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (C. pricei), Northern Cat-eyed Snake (Leptodeira septentrionalis), Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus jarrovii), and Canyon Spotted Whiptail (Cnemidophorus burti).

There are thirty anuran species occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert: Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Rana chircahuaensis); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans); Rio Grande Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus cystignathoides); Cliff Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus marnockii); Spotted Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus guttilatus); Tarahumara Barking Frog (Craugastor tarahumaraensis); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Plains Spadefoot (Spea bombifrons); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Dwarf Toad (Incilius canaliferus); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Eastern Green Toad (Anaxyrus debilis); Gulf Coast Toad (Incilius valliceps); and Longfoot Chirping Toad (Eleutherodactylus longipes VU). The sole salamander occurring in the Chihuahuan Desert is the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum).

Common bird species include the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and the rare Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus). Geococcyx californianus), Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostra), Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata), Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum), Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), Worthen’s Sparrow (Spizella wortheni), and Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). In addition, numerous raptors inhabit the Chihuahuan Desert and include the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) and the Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi).

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Comments: Often in woodland and shrubland in rough, broken country. Usually avoids open areas. May climb tree to avoid danger. Dens in cleft, small cave, hollow in tree or log, or debris pile; less frequently in burrow abandoned by other mammal.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In eastern North America, the Grey Fox is most closely associated with deciduous/southern pine forests interspersed with some old fields and scrubby woodlands (Hall 1981). In western North America, it is commonly found in mixed agricultural/woodland/chaparral/riparian landscapes and shrub habitats. The species occupies forested areas and thick brush habitats in Central America and forested montane habitats in South America (Eisenberg 1989). Grey Foxes occur in semi-arid areas of the southwestern USA and northern Mexico where cover is sufficient. They appear to do well on the margins of some urban areas (Harrison 1997).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Gray foxes are found in deciduous woodlands, but are occasionally seen in old fields foraging for fruits and insects. Unlike Vulpes vulpes, they do not prefer agricultural habitats.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest

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Cover Requirements

More info for the term: cover

Common gray foxes tend to escape their enemies by finding cover rather than
depending on speed (as do red foxes) [23].  Dense vegetation is
important as diurnal resting and escape cover [18].  They climb trees
for use as resting and escape cover [23].  Their climbing ability
extends to saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea); one common gray fox was observed
resting 15 feet (4.6 m) above ground on a saguaro limb [6].

Den sites include hollow logs and trees, rock outcrops, underground
burrows (usually the abandoned den of some other species), cavities
under rocks, abandoned buildings, wood or sawdust piles, and brush
[9,23].  Dens have been found up to 20 feet (9.1 m) above ground in tree
hollows.  Underground dens have usually been excavated by animals of
other species, but common gray foxes occasionally dig dens in loose soil [35].

Den Use:  Dens are used throughout the year, but primary use is during
whelping season.  Dens are usually located in brushy or wooded habitats.
In Wisconsin most common gray fox dens were on east-, southeast-, or
south-facing slopes [9].  Leaves, grass, fur, and other soft materials
are added to dens [23].
  • 6. Davis, Russell; Sidner, Ronnie. 1992. Mammals of woodland and forest habitats in the Rincon Mountains of Saguaro National Monument, Arizona. Technical Report NPS/WRUA/NRTR-92/06. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit. 62 p. [20966]
  • 9. Fritzell, Erik K.; Haroldson, Kurt J. 1982. Urocyon conereoargenteus. Mammalian Species. 189: 1-8. [25971]
  • 18. Haroldson, Kurt J.; Fritzell, Erik K. 1984. Home ranges, activity, and habitat use by gray foxes in an oak-hickory forest. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(1): 222-227. [25991]
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the terms: hardwood, shrub

Common gray foxes are most closely associated with deciduous forest,
particularly where it is in contact with disturbed or brushy habitat
[9,23,35].  They are usually found near surface water [29].  Preferred
habitat includes shrublands and brushy woodlands on hilly or rough
terrain.  In areas where common gray foxes and red foxes occur together, common gray
foxes prefer mixed woods with dense underbrush.  In the absence of red
foxes, common gray foxes prefer other habitats [35].

In New England common gray foxes are associated with dense northern hardwood or
mixed forests, thickets, and swamps.  Preferred habitat includes a
mixture of fields and woods [7].  In Wisconsin common gray foxes were most
abundant near brush-covered bluffs where woods and farmland were well
interspersed [28].  From Virginia to southern Georgia optimal common gray fox
habitat consists of woodland-farmland edge; post oak woodlands are also
good common gray fox habitat [9].  In southern Georgia common gray foxes are most
abundant in mixed woods and cultivated areas, less abundant in pine
savanna, and least common in mixed woods with dense underbrush [35].  On
the Coastal Plain most common gray fox captures occurred in tall
weed-broomsedge (Andropogon virginicus)-dominated habitats and
cultivated areas.  There were relatively few captures on forested sites;
this difference from common gray fox preferences in the majority of its range
was attributed to the absence of red foxes [24].

In the western states common gray fox habitats include rocky hillsides,
mountainsides, and washes [35].  In Oregon common gray foxes prefer mixed
hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood habitats; they are present in
riparian hardwood, headland prairie, headland shrub, and tanoak
(Lithocarpus densiflorus) habitats [23].  In the Central Valley of
California, one common gray fox spent most of its time in old fields and
human-use areas, one spent most of its time in agricultural areas, and
two spent most of their time in riparian areas.  None of the foxes used
areas of open dirt [11].  In California common gray foxes were most abundant
from 3,800 to 5,000 feet (1,150-1,525 m) elevation [15].  In
northwestern California Douglas-fir forests, common gray foxes were present in
similar abundances in all forest seres, but there were slightly fewer
common gray foxes in mature timber [39].

Home Range:  Common gray foxes tracked from May through August, 1980 and
January through August, 1981, had a monthly average home range of 740
acres (299 ha), and an average composite home range of 1,700 acres (676
ha).  Some individuals occupied the same general area for extended
periods, but home ranges tended to shift from month to month.  Only a
fraction of the home range is used on a given night [18].  The composite
home ranges of four radio-tracked common gray foxes varied from 262 to 425
acres (106-172 ha).  Common gray foxes are apparently solitary in the
nonbreeding seasons [17].  In Wisconsin common gray fox home ranges vary from
0.24 to 1.2 miles (0.40-2 km) in diameter [32].  Lord [22] estimated
common gray fox home range diameter of 1.9 miles (3.2 km).  Trapp [34] reported
an annual home range average of 0.2 square mile (0.52 sq km).

Territoriality:  Common gray fox territoriality is not well defined.
Territories are marked with urine and feces, but in many areas home
ranges overlap considerably.  Family aggregates are formed so that
individual territories overlap; family aggregates do not overlap [18].
  • 9. Fritzell, Erik K.; Haroldson, Kurt J. 1982. Urocyon conereoargenteus. Mammalian Species. 189: 1-8. [25971]
  • 11. Fuller, Todd K. 1978. Variable home-range sizes of female gray foxes. Journal of Mammalogy. 59(2): 446-449. [25972]
  • 15. Grinnell, Joseph; Dixon, Joseph S.; Linsdale, Jean M. 1937. Fur-bearing mammals of California: Their natural history, systematic status, and relations to man. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 2 vol. 777 p. [25979]
  • 17. Hallberg, Donald L.; Trapp, Gene R. 1984. Gray fox temporal and spatial activity in a riparian/agricultural zone in California's Central Valley. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 920-928. [5881]
  • 18. Haroldson, Kurt J.; Fritzell, Erik K. 1984. Home ranges, activity, and habitat use by gray foxes in an oak-hickory forest. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(1): 222-227. [25991]
  • 22. Lord, Rexford D., Jr. 1961. A population study of the gray fox. The American Midland Naturalist. 66(1): 87-109. [25974]
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 24. McKeever, Sturgis. 1959. Relative abundance of twelve southeastern mammals in six vegetative types. The American Midland Naturalist. 62: 222-226. [25166]
  • 28. Petersen, LeRoy R.; Martin, Mark A.; Pils, Charles M. 1977. Status of gray foxes in Wisconsin, 1975. Research Report 94. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 18 p. [25992]
  • 29. Quinn, Ronald D. 1990. Habitat preferences and distribution of mammals in California chaparral. Res. Pap. PSW-202. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 11 p. [15761]
  • 32. Richards, Stephen H.; Hine, Ruth L. 1953. Wisconsin fox populations. Final Report: Pittman--Robertson Research Project 12-R. Technical Wildlife Bulletin No. 6. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Conservation Department, Game Management Division. 78 p. [25993]
  • 34. Trapp, Gene Robert. 1973. Comparative behavioral ecology of two southwest Utah carnivores: Bassariscus astutus and Urocyon cinereoargenteus. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin. 251 p. Dissertation. [27376]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]
  • 39. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 1992. Canadian species at risk. Ottawa, ON. 10 p. [26183]
  • 7. DeGraaf, Richard M.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 1986. New England wildlife: habitat, natural history, and distribution. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-108. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 491 p. [21385]

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Associated Plant Communities

Common gray foxes occur in a wide variety of forest types; they prefer
woodlands and woodland-brush ecotones over open habitat.  They commonly
occur in eastern and southwestern deciduous forests, but are also found
in mixed and coniferous forests of the northeastern and western states [36].

Common gray foxes are ecologically important members of the oak (Quercus
spp.)-hickory (Carya spp.) ecosystem.  In the Missouri Ozarks mature
oak-hickory stands were the most frequently used (of six habitat types)
by common gray foxes, both at night and during the day.  Old fields were least
used [18].  In North Carolina common gray fox habitats include evergreen redbay
(Persea borbonia) forests, deciduous forests, and streamhead forests.
Common gray foxes were common in the most densely wooded habitats, including
pocosins.  They are often seen running along sandy rims and ridges
between bay and streamhead forests [5].  In central Louisiana common gray foxes
occur in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)-slash pine (P. elliottii)
stands [25].  Common gray foxes are common in southwestern Wisconsin
oak-hickory forests dominated by white oak (Q. alba), northern red oak
(Q. rubra), black oak (Q. velutina), and shagbark hickory (C. ovata)
with lesser amounts of white ash (Fraxinus americana), green ash (F.
pennsylvanica), maples (Acer spp.), and basswood (Tilia americana) [33].

In Zion National Park, Utah, common gray foxes occur in blackbrush (Coleogyne
ramosissima), shrub-grassland dominated by fourwing saltbush (Atriplex
canescens), and pinyon (Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.) [35].  In
Texas common gray foxes are found in post oak (Q. stellata) woodlands,
pinyon-juniper woodlands, and wooded sections of shortgrass prairie.  In
western states common gray foxes are found in brushy habitat, woods, and
chaparral [36].  In Arizona common gray foxes are relatively rare; they are
typically found in pine (Pinus spp.)-Gambel oak (Q. gambelii) woodlands
at 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500-1,800 m) elevation.  They also occur in
pine-fir (Abies spp.), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), chaparral, and
desert grassland habitats [6,31].  In California common gray foxes are most
common in mature chaparral at elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet (300-900
m) and also occur in open chaparral, riparian areas, and other plant
communities [29].  In riparian zones they have been found in communities
dominated by Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii)-northern California
black walnut (Juglans californica var. hindsii), and by large willow
(Salix laevigata) [17].  In northwestern California common gray foxes were
present in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forests [39].
  • 5. Clark, Mary K.; Lee, David S.; Funderburg, John B., Jr. 1985. The mammal fauna of Carolina bays, pocosins, and associated communities in North Carolina: an overview. Brimleyana. 11: 1-38. [13478]
  • 6. Davis, Russell; Sidner, Ronnie. 1992. Mammals of woodland and forest habitats in the Rincon Mountains of Saguaro National Monument, Arizona. Technical Report NPS/WRUA/NRTR-92/06. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona, School of Renewable Natural Resources, Cooperative National Park Resources Study Unit. 62 p. [20966]
  • 17. Hallberg, Donald L.; Trapp, Gene R. 1984. Gray fox temporal and spatial activity in a riparian/agricultural zone in California's Central Valley. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 920-928. [5881]
  • 18. Haroldson, Kurt J.; Fritzell, Erik K. 1984. Home ranges, activity, and habitat use by gray foxes in an oak-hickory forest. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(1): 222-227. [25991]
  • 25. Mullin, Keith; Williams, Kenneth L. 1987. Mammals of longleaf-slash pine stands in central Louisiana. In: Pearson, Henry A.; Smeins, Fred E.; Thill, Ronald E., compilers. Proceedings of the southern evaluation project workshop; 1987 May 26-27; Long Beach, MS. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-68. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 121-124. [12473]
  • 29. Quinn, Ronald D. 1990. Habitat preferences and distribution of mammals in California chaparral. Res. Pap. PSW-202. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 11 p. [15761]
  • 31. Reynolds, Hudson G.; Johnson, R. Roy. 1964. Habitat relations of vertebrates of the Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest. Res. Pap. RM-4. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 16 p. [13485]
  • 33. Root, David A.; Payne, Neil F. 1985. Age-specific reproduction of gray foxes in Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 49(4): 890-892. [25975]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]
  • 36. Sheldon, Jennifer W. 1992. Wild dogs: The natural history of the nondomestic Canidae. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc. 248 p. [25760]
  • 39. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 1992. Canadian species at risk. Ottawa, ON. 10 p. [26183]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: cover

   The common gray fox occurs in most SRM cover types.

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

   The common gray fox occurs in nearly every SAF cover type.

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the term: association

   The common gray fox occurs in nearly every Kuchler plant association.

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak-pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES18 Maple-beech-birch
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands

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Gray foxes prefer to live in deciduous forests interspersed with brushy, woodland areas. Many populations thrive where woodlands and farmlands meet; however, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are known to frequent agricultural areas more than gray foxes. Proximity to water is a key feature of preferred habitat as well. Dens are usually located in hollow trees or logs, in crevices between and under large rocks, and in underground burrows. Dens have also been found in the lower forest canopy, 10 m above the forest floor, in hollow tree trunks and limbs. Gray foxes are the only member of the Canidae family that can climb trees. They are most often found below 3000 m in elevation.

Range elevation: 1000 to 3000 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Opportunistic omnivore. Often chiefly depends on rabbits and other small mammals in winter, insects and fruit in summer. Overall diet may be dominated by plant material in some areas.

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Food Habits

Gray foxes hunt alone and eat a wide variety of food. The most important food source for gray foxes is probably the Sylvilagus floridanus, but arvicolinae, Peromyscus, soricidae, and aves are readily captured and eaten. Gray foxes supplement their diet with whatever fruits are readily available and generally eat more vegetable matter than Vulpes vulpes.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals

Plant Foods: fruit

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Food Habits

Common gray foxes are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders; they prey mainly on
small mammals, but fruit and invertebrates form a substantial portion of
the diet.  In the central United States cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.)
formed the major portion of the common gray fox winter diet.  Other mammals
taken in noticeable numbers include voles (Microtus spp.), mice
(Peromyscus spp.), woodrats (Neotoma spp.), and cotton rats (Sigmodon
spp.).  Invertebrates increase in importance in the spring.  With
seasonally advancing vegetative growth and development, plant material,
particularly fruit, increases in common gray fox diets, sometimes comprising up
to 70 percent by volume [10].  Grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles
(Coleoptera), and butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) are the preferred
invertebrates; plant materials include fruits, nuts, grains, and
grasses.  Carrion is eaten opportunistically [35].  In some areas birds
(nestlings and eggs), particularly ground-nesters, are taken by common gray
foxes; in Texas wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) nests were broken up
by common gray foxes [3].

In a riparian area in the Central Valley of California, a common gray fox ate
mostly ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), California ground
squirrels (Spermophilus beecheyi), California voles (Microtus
californicus), and berries [11].  In Oregon primary prey items include
mice, pocket gophers (Thomomys and Geomys spp.), kangaroo rats
(Dipodomys spp.), woodrats, ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.),
chipmunks (Tamias spp.), brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmanii), and birds
including domestic poultry.  Other food items include grasshoppers,
beetles, manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) berries, juniper cones, and
cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) berries [23].  In the Sonoran Desert the
fruit of the California palm (Washingtonia filifera) forms a substantial
portion of the common gray fox winter diet [2].  In eastern Tennessee plant
foods included persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), black cherry (Prunus
serotina), blackberry (Rubus spp.) , and cancerroot (Conophilus
americana).  The most common vertebrate prey determined in scat analysis
(by volume) was eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridana), followed by
white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana), presumably as carrion, and
rodents [14].
  • 2. Bullock, Stephen H. 1980. Dispersal of a desert palm by opportunistic frugivores. Principes. 24(1): 29-32. [19703]
  • 3. Butts, Gregory L. 1977. Aerial pursuit of red-tailed hawks (Accipitridae) by turkey (Meleagrididae) hens. The Southwestern Naturalist. 22(3): 404-405. [10482]
  • 10. Fritzell, E. K. 1987. Gray fox and island fox. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: 408-420. [28236]
  • 11. Fuller, Todd K. 1978. Variable home-range sizes of female gray foxes. Journal of Mammalogy. 59(2): 446-449. [25972]
  • 14. Greenberg, Cathryn H.; Pelton, Michael R. 1991. Food habits of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in east Tennessee. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science. 66(2): 79-84. [25973]
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]

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Food Habits

Gray foxes are omnivorous. Although they prey on small vertebrates, fruit and invertebrates also form a substantial part of their diet. Cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus), mice (Peromyscus), woodrats (Neotoma), and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) form the majority of their winter diet. In the Sonoran Desert, the fruit of the California palm makes up a significant portion of their winter diet. With the onset of spring, fruits become an increasingly important part of their diet, at times making up 70% of its diet. Invertebrates, fruits, nuts, and grains also increase in importance during the spring. Grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), and butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) are the preferred invertebrates. When available, gray foxes may also feed on carrion. When gray foxes accumulate an excess amount of food, they cache it by digging a hole with their forepaws and burying it. Immediately afterwards, they mark it with urine or using their scent glands on their paws and tail in an effort to ward off other animals as well as to make it easier to relocate.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: roots and tubers; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Insectivore , Scavenger ); herbivore (Frugivore , Granivore ); omnivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Gray foxes impact their ecosystem as consumers of many different species of prey.

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Predation

Large carnivores such as lynx canadensis, lynx rufus, and canis latrans may prey on gray foxes, but it has not actually been documented that this is the case.

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Predators

Adult common gray foxes have few predators, but are occasionally taken by
golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), coyote (Canis latrans), and bobcat
(Lynx rufus) [35]; pups are taken by bobcat, great horned owl (Bubo
virginianus), and possibly large hawks [23].
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]

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Ecosystem Roles

Gray foxes have a small, but important role in our ecosystems. Their feeding habits allow them to influence small rodent (Rodentia) populations by maintaining a steady predator-prey relationship. They serve as a host to many parasitic arthropods, including fleas (Siphonaptera), lice (Phthiraptera), ticks (Ixodida), chiggers (Trombidiformes), and mites (Acari). Gray foxes are also host to a number of internal parasites including nematodes (Nematoda), flukes (Trematoda), tapeworms (Cestoda), and acanthocephalans (acanthocephala)

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Predation

Gray foxes primary predators include bobcats (Lynx rufus), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and coyotes (Canis latrans). In the southern region of the United States, gray fox abundance is highly dependent on coyote abundance. Other than death by natural causes, humans may be responsible for the greatest number of deaths and therefore may be their largest threat. Hunting, trapping and retaliatory killings by livestock ranchers are not uncommon. Unlike red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), which evade predators by using their superior agility, gray foxes escape by hiding under cover (e.g., brush piles). When escaping terrestrial predators, gray foxes can use their retractable claws to climb trees.

Known Predators:

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Known prey organisms

  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
  • M. McKinnerney, 1977. Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. M.S. thesis. University of Texas-El Paso, Texas; and 1978, Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Southw. Nat. 23:563-576, from thesis and p. 571.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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General Ecology

Home range up to a few square miles in winter, less in summer (Richards and Hine 1953). Home ranges may or may not overlap. Probably reaches peak densities every 10 years. Probably averages around one family for every 4 square miles.

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

More info for the terms: cover, shrub

Common gray foxes use brush and brushy woods in most areas.  Fire that reduces
brush cover will decrease common gray fox habitat.  Fire usually increases the
productivity of early successional prey species and improves predator
efficiency by reducing hiding cover for prey [21].  In the Southeast
fire produces immediate short-term habitat reduction for prey animals;
prey is concentrated in unburned habitat islands [19].  The most
important common gray fox prey in the Southeast are cottontails and cotton
rats.  Cottontails and cotton rats are not usually killed by fire but
prefer habitats with more cover than is found in immediate postfire
environments.  Both species return to postfire habitats when there is
sufficient vegetation for food and cover.  Fire often reduces fruit
production in the short term, but edges of older burns are usually good
regeneration sites for fruiting shrub species such as blackberries and
blueberries (Vaccinium spp.); gallberry (Ilex glabra) produces the most
fruit a few years after fire pruning [21].
  • 19. Hon, Tip. 1981. Effects of prescribed fire on furbearers in the South. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 121-128. [14818]
  • 21. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27. [11562]

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Timing of Major Life History Events

More info for the terms: cover, litter

Diurnal Activity:  Common gray foxes are more active at night and at dusk than
during the day.  Activity levels decrease sharply at sunrise, and
increase at sunset [17,18].  Common gray foxes usually leave their daytime rest
area shortly before sunset, investigate the immediate area, and then
move purposefully to a foraging area.  Close to sunrise they usually
move back to a daytime resting area.  Common gray foxes usually change resting
sites every day once vegetative cover is abundant in late spring; sites
are reused in winter [17].

Breeding Season:  Common gray foxes usually breed from late winter to early
spring; dates of mating activity vary with latitude and elevation.  In
southern Illinois breeding occurs from late January to February; in
Wisconsin breeding occurs from late January to March [9], and in Oregon
mating occurs from mid-February to March [23].  Where common gray fox is
sympatric with red fox (Vulpes vulpes), common gray foxes breed 2 to 4 weeks
later than red foxes.  Common gray foxes are assumed to be monogamous, but
direct evidence is lacking [9].  There is only one litter per year [35].

Gestation and Development of Young:  Gestation periods have been
variously reported as ranging from 53 to 63 days; Fritzell [10] reported
gestation in captivity lasted 59 days.  Mean litter size is 3.8, ranging
from 1 to 7.  Development has not been well studied [9].  Young are born
blind and nearly naked.  Eyes open about 9 days after birth.  The pups
nurse for over 3 weeks.  Solid food is fed to the pups before they are
completely weaned with the male beginning to bring food to the pups at
about 2 to 3 weeks.  Pups begin to fend for themselves at about 3
months; families disperse in late summer and autumn [23].

Population Structure:  Root and Payne [33] determined that the majority
of animals in a southwestern Wisconsin common gray fox population were under 1
year old.  They concluded that common gray foxes are "an annual crop."  The
majority of female common gray foxes breed their first year [33].

Mortality and Longevity:  In the Central Valley of California, two of
four radiotracked common gray foxes were killed by cars [11].  In east-central
Alabama, a population of common gray foxes was tagged and monitored for causes
of mortality.  Canine distemper was the most frequent cause of death,
followed by trapping, automobile collision, and infectious canine
hepatitis.  Canine distemper was probably a localized cause of mortality
in this area; it is not expected that most common gray fox populations suffer
the same rate of distemper deaths [27].  Maser and others [23] stated
that collision with automobiles is rare in Oregon; the major causes of
common gray fox mortality are hunting and trapping.  They listed a probable
maximum longevity in the wild of 6 years.  The oldest captive common gray fox
lived less than 8 years [23].
  • 9. Fritzell, Erik K.; Haroldson, Kurt J. 1982. Urocyon conereoargenteus. Mammalian Species. 189: 1-8. [25971]
  • 10. Fritzell, E. K. 1987. Gray fox and island fox. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., eds. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. North Bay, ON: Ontario Trappers Association: 408-420. [28236]
  • 11. Fuller, Todd K. 1978. Variable home-range sizes of female gray foxes. Journal of Mammalogy. 59(2): 446-449. [25972]
  • 17. Hallberg, Donald L.; Trapp, Gene R. 1984. Gray fox temporal and spatial activity in a riparian/agricultural zone in California's Central Valley. In: Warner, Richard E.; Hendrix, Kathleen M., eds. California riparian systems: Ecology, conservation, and productive management. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press: 920-928. [5881]
  • 18. Haroldson, Kurt J.; Fritzell, Erik K. 1984. Home ranges, activity, and habitat use by gray foxes in an oak-hickory forest. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(1): 222-227. [25991]
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 27. Nicholson, W. S.; Hill, Edward P. 1984. Mortality in gray foxes from east-central Alabama. Journal of Wildlife Management. 48(4): 1429-1432. [25990]
  • 33. Root, David A.; Payne, Neil F. 1985. Age-specific reproduction of gray foxes in Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 49(4): 890-892. [25975]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Like all Canidae, gray foxes have excellent senses of sight and smell. They most likely communicate with one another through scent marking, as do other dogs.

Communication Channels: chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Communication and Perception

Like other members of the family Canidae, gray foxes are able to communicate by barking and growling. Males have been observed trying to attract potential mates by raising their hind leg to show off their genitalia. As juveniles, gray foxes commonly play fight. As adults, they use their scent glands to mark territories and food sources.

Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Cyclicity

Comments: Primarily crepuscular and nocturnal, but often active in daytime.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Gray foxes may live 6 to 10 years in the wild.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
6 to 10 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
13.0 years.

  • Kurta, A. 1995. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
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Lifespan/Longevity

Lifespan for both captive and wild gray foxes ranges from 6 to 8 years. However, the oldest recorded wild gray fox was 10 years old at time of capture, and the oldest captive gray fox lived to be 12 years old.

Gray foxes generally live for 6 to 8 years. The oldest wild gray fox was 10 years old when captured. The oldest gray fox in captivity lived to be 12 years old.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
6 to 10 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
6 to 12 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
6 to 8 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
6 to 8 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 16.2 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Breeds mainly in winter. Gestation lasts 51-63 days (average 53). Parturition occurs in April or May in the south-central U.S. Litter size averages 3-5. Parturition occurs March-April. Weaned in 8-10 weeks. Sexually mature within 1 year.

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Gray foxes are monogamous; each has only a single mate.

Mating System: monogamous

The breeding season of gray foxes varies by location. In Michigan, gray foxes mate in early March; in Alabama, breeding peaks occur in February. Where vulpes vulpes and gray foxes occur together, gray foxes breed 2 to 4 weeks after the red foxes. Pregnancy lasts about 53 days; the average litter size is 3.8 and ranges from 1 to 7. By 3 months, pups begin to hunt with their parents. After four months, the young have their permanent teeth and can forage on their own. The family group remains together until autumn when the young reach sexual maturity and leave their parents.

Breeding interval: Grey foxes breed once per year.

Breeding season: The breeding season of grey foxes varies by location.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 7.

Average number of offspring: 3.8.

Range gestation period: 51 to 63 days.

Average gestation period: 53 days.

Range weaning age: 84 to 120 days.

Average time to independence: 6 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 95 g.

Average number of offspring: 4.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
345 days.

Male and female gray foxes both provide protection for their offspring. Female gray foxes nurse their young until the young are able to hunt for themselves, when they are about four months old.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Male, Female); extended period of juvenile learning

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Gray foxes are solitary animals that socialize only during mating season. They are typically monogamous, although in rare cases polygamy and polyandry occur. For a short period of time after parturition, family groups consisting of male, female, and young exist. Male-female pairings form in the fall with breeding occurring in the winter. During October and September, attracting mates become more competitive and males usually display more aggression while retaining and defending mates. Similar to domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), gray foxes have scent glands just inside the anus. Additional scent glands are found on their face and the pads of their feet. Although these glands are primarily used to demarcate territory, they may also be used to attract potential mates.

Mating System: monogamous

Breeding season varies with geographic region, elevation, and habitat quality. Breeding occurs in yearly cycles, beginning in January through late February, continuing into March. In some areas (e.g., Texas), breeding has been observed as early as December. Parturition occurs after about 2 months of gestation, peaking in April, with an average litter size of 3.8 pups, which weigh about 86 g at birth. Pups are typically weaned by 3 to 4 weeks, but may not be completely weaned until 6 weeks. Both genders are sexually mature by 10 months old, soon after dispersal. Annual onset of spermatogenesis occurs earlier and last longer than estrus. If they have been exposed to significant levels of the synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol, females may experience delayed fertilization.

Breeding interval: Gray foxes breed once yearly.

Breeding season: December through March.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 7.

Average number of offspring: 3.8.

Range gestation period: 53 to 63 days.

Average gestation period: 59 days.

Range birth mass: 65 to 110 g.

Average birth mass: 86 g.

Range weaning age: 2 to 6 weeks.

Range time to independence: 10 to 17 months.

Average time to independence: 12 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Average number of offspring: 4.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
345 days.

Both genders take care of offspring in gray foxes. Before birth, males do a majority of the hunting, while females look for and prepare a suitable den. Weaning begins around 2 to 3 weeks of age. Pups begin eating solid food around 3 weeks old, which is primarily provided by the father. Parents teach pups how to hunt at around 4 months old. Until then, both parents prey for food separately, and pups practice their hunting skills by pouncing and stalking, which is primarily taught by the father. Pups depend on their parents for defense until about 10 months old, at which point they become sexually mature and disperse.

Parental Investment: precocial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 29
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cypher, B.L., Fuller, T.K. & List, R.

Reviewer/s
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
The Grey Fox is widespread in forest, woodland, brushland, shrubland, and rocky habitats in temperate and tropical regions of North America, and in northernmost montane regions of South America. There is no good evidence that Grey Fox numbers are increasing or decreasing in any part of their range. The species is not considered threatened at present.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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This species is currently not of any special conservation concern.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the
United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes
in status may not be included.

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U.S. Federal Legal Status

Urocyon cinereoargenteus ocythous is Under Review for listing [40].
  • 40. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Endangered Species Program, [Online]. Available: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/. [86564]

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Gray foxes are abundant throughout most areas in the lower two-thirds of North America. They have no special conservation status at this time. Although they are trapped and hunted by humans, there does not appear to be any immediate threat.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
The species is common in occupied habitat, but appears to be restricted to locally dense habitats where it is not excluded by sympatric Coyotes (Canis latrans) and Bobcats (Lynx rufus) (Farias 2000b).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, may be particularly problematic in regions where human numbers are increasing rapidly and important habitat is converted for agricultural, industrial, and urban uses.

Because of its relatively lower fur quality compared with other species, commercial use of the Grey Fox is somewhat limited. However, 90,604 skins were taken in the United States during the 1991 and 1992 season (Linscombe 1994). In Mexico, Grey Foxes are frequently sold illegally as pets (R. List pers. comm.).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Not listed in the CITES Appendices. The Grey Fox is legally protected as a harvested species in Canada and the United States (Fritzell 1987).

Grey Foxes occur in numerous protected areas throughout their range, such as Big Bend NP, San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Mountain NP and Everglades and Dry Tortugas NP, and Adirondack NP.

A number of foxes are held in captivity, although there may be more in the hands of private collections/individuals who do not report to ISIS. Grey Foxes appear to fare well in captivity and commonly are on display at zoos and wildlife farms.

Gaps in knowledge:
Because of the relatively high abundance and low economic value of Grey Foxes, surprisingly little research has been conducted on this species. Basic ecological and demographic information is needed for each of the major habitats occupied by Grey Foxes. Also, data on the response of Grey Foxes to human-altered landscapes (e.g., urban environments) is needed. No region-wide or range-wide population estimate has been produced. Furthermore, extremely little is known about the status and ecology of Grey Foxes outside of the USA and Canada. The effects of Grey Foxes on populations of smaller vertebrates, especially in urban and suburban settings without larger predators, may be important.
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Use of Fire in Population Management

Hon [19] and Landers [21] suggest that in the Southeast, burning fields
and slash pine forests on 3-year rotations would create desirable
furbearer habitat; areas supporting fire-sensitive fruit-bearing plants
should be protected from fire.
  • 19. Hon, Tip. 1981. Effects of prescribed fire on furbearers in the South. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 121-128. [14818]
  • 21. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27. [11562]

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Management Considerations

Common gray fox pelts are of some value but are not as valued as those of red
fox [23].  Trapping increases and decreases with pelt values; in a 1987
report it was mentioned that sales in the United States had increased
dramatically in the last decade.  The common gray fox has "furbearer"
management status in many states [13,38].

Population Status:  The common gray fox is characterized by widespread, healthy
populations in most areas.  Habitat availability may limit its
distribution, but lack of habitat does not appear to pose an immediate
threat [13].  Common gray foxes are uncommon to common in New England [7].
Reported population densities range from 1 to 27 per square mile [35].

Common gray foxes are considered pests by many farmers who raise domestic
poultry; biologists claim that this damage is usually overstated and
that common gray foxes benefit agriculture by controlling rodent and rabbit
populations [23].  In northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) management
areas only a small number of common gray foxes (0.7%) were found to have
northern bobwhite remains in their stomachs [26].

Common gray foxes commonly carry rabies, most frequently in the Appalachian
states (KY, TN, VA, WV) [4].  They also carry tularemia [23] and canine
distemper which is not as virulent in common gray foxes as it is in domestic
dogs (Canis familiaris) [38].
  • 4. Carey, Andrew B. 1982. The ecology of red foxes, gray foxes, and rabies in the eastern United States. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 10(1): 18-26. [25970]
  • 23. Maser, Chris; Mate, Bruce R.; Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1981. Natural history of Oregon Coast mammals. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-133. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 496 p. [10238]
  • 35. Trapp, Gene R.; Hallberg, Donald L. 1975. Ecology of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus): a review. In: Fox, M. W., ed. The wild canids: Their systematics, behavioral ecology and evolution. Behavioral Science Series. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company: 164-178. [25976]
  • 38. Samuel, David E.; Nelson, Brad B. 1982. Foxes: Vulpes vulpes and allies. In: Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. Wild mammals of North America: Biology, management, and economics. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press: 475-490. [25235]
  • 13. Ginsberg, J. R.; Macdonald, D. W. 1990. Foxes, wolves, jackals, and dogs: An action plan for the conservation of canids. [Place of publication unknown]: The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland. 116 p. [25761]
  • 26. Murray, Robert W.; Frye, O. E., Jr. 1964. The bobwhite quail and its management in Florida. 2d ed. Game Publ. No. 2. [Place of publication unknown]: Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 55 p. [15421]
  • 7. DeGraaf, Richard M.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 1986. New England wildlife: habitat, natural history, and distribution. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-108. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 491 p. [21385]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: Trapped for pelt.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Gray foxes will occasionally eat poultry and game birds, but they are not a serious threat to either.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Gray foxes are hunted primarily for sport as their pelts are not very valuable. The may help control populations of rodents that are damaging to agriculture or transmit disease.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Gray foxes are considered a problem species by poultry farmers. However, red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are commonly misidentified as gray foxes, and commonly attack and kill poultry as well. In addition, gray foxes carry zoonotic diseases that could be a potential health threat to humans (e.g., rabies) and domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris; e.g., tularemia and canine distemper).

Negative Impacts: injures humans (causes disease in humans , carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Gray foxes are hunted and trapped for their pelt. Compared to red fox (Vulpes vulpes), gray fox pelts are less desirable because the hairs are coarser and shorter. Gray foxes may also help control the abundance of certain agricultural pests, including rodents (Rodentia) and rabbits (Leporidae).

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Gray fox

This article is about fox. For other uses, see Gray fox (disambiguation).

The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of[3] the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America (Venezuela and Colombia).[1] This species and the closely related Channel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis) are the only living members of the genus Urocyon, which is considered to be among the most primitive of the living canids.[4] Though it was once the most common fox in the east, and still is found there,[3][5][6] human advancement allowed the red fox to become more dominant. The Pacific States still have the gray fox as a dominant. Its specific epithet cinereoargenteus means 'ashen silver'.

Origin[edit]

The gray fox appeared during the mid Pliocene epoch 3.6 million years ago (AEO) with the first fossil evidence found at the lower 111 Ranch site, Graham County, Arizona with contemporary mammals like giant sloth, the elephant-like Cuvieronius, Large-headed llama, and the early small horses of Nannippus and Equus.[7] Genetic analyses of the fox-like canids confirmed that the gray fox is a distinct genus from the red foxes (Vulpes ssp.). Genetically, the gray fox often clusters with two other ancient lineages, the east Asian Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the African Bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis).[8] Chromosome number is 2n=66.[9] Recent genetic analysis has shown that the gray fox migrated into the northeastern United States post-Pleistocene in association with the Medieval Climate Anomaly warming trend.[10] The Channel Island fox is likely descended from mainland gray foxes.[11]

Description and behavior[edit]

Gray fox kit at the Palo Alto Baylands in California
A yawning gray fox, northern Florida

The gray fox is mainly distinguished from most other canids by its grizzled upper parts, strong neck and black-tipped tail, while the skull can be easily distinguished from all other North American canids by its widely separated temporal ridges that form a U-shape. There is little sexual dimorphism, save for the females being slightly smaller than males. The gray fox ranges from 76 to 112.5 cm (29.9 to 44.3 in) in total length. The tail measures 27.5 to 44.3 cm (10.8 to 17.4 in) of that length and its hind feet measure 100 to 150 mm (3.9 to 5.9 in). The gray fox typically weighs 3.6 to 7 kg (7.9 to 15.4 lb), though exceptionally can weigh as much as 9 kg (20 lb).[12][13][14] It is readily differentiated from the red fox by the lack of "black stockings" that stand out on the latter and the stripe of black hair that runs along the middle of the tail. In contrast to all Vulpes and related (Arctic and fennec) foxes, the gray fox has oval (instead of slit-like) pupils.[15]

The gray fox's ability to climb trees is shared only with the Asian raccoon dog among canids. Its strong, hooked claws allow it to scramble up trees to escape many predators such as the domestic dog or the coyote,[16] or to reach tree-bound or arboreal food sources. It can climb branchless, vertical trunks to heights of 18 meters and jump from branch to branch.[17] It descends primarily by jumping from branch to branch, or by descending slowly backwards as a domestic cat would do. The gray fox is nocturnal or crepuscular and dens in hollow trees, stumps or appropriated burrows during the day. Such gray fox tree dens may be located 30 ft above the ground.[15] Prior to European colonization of North America, the red fox was found primarily in boreal forest and the gray fox in deciduous forest, but now the red fox is dominant in most of the eastern United States since they are the more adaptable species to development and urbanization.[18] In areas where both red and gray foxes exist, the gray fox is dominant.[19]

Reproduction[edit]

Gray fox, showing black tail stripe, Sierra Nevada

The gray fox is monogamous. The breeding season of the gray fox varies geographically; in Michigan, the gray fox mates in early March, in Alabama, breeding peaks occur in February.[12] The gestation period lasts approximately 53 days. Litter size ranges from 1 to 7. Kits begin to hunt with their parents at the age of 3 months. By the time they are 4 months old, the kits will have developed their permanent dentition and can now easily forage on their own. The family group still remains together until autumn when the young reach sexual maturity. Then, they disperse.

Diet[edit]

A gray fox at night
Adult male and female gray fox

The gray fox is an omnivorous, solitary hunter. It frequently preys upon the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) in the eastern U.S., though it will readily catch voles, shrews, and birds. In California, the gray fox primarily eats rodents, followed by lagomorphs, e.g. jackrabbit, brush rabbit, etc.[16] In some parts of the Western United States (such as in the Zion National Park in Utah), the gray fox is primarily insectivorous and herbivorous.[19] Fruit is an important component of the diet of the gray fox and they seek whatever fruits are readily available, generally eating more vegetable matter than does the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).[12]

Subspecies[edit]

Gray fox skull

There are 16 subspecies recognized for the gray fox.[9]

  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus borealis (New England)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus californicus (southern California)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus cinereoargenteus (eastern United States)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus costaricensis (Costa Rica)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus (Gulf states)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus fraterculus (Yucatán)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus furvus (Panama)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus guatemalae (southernmost Mexico south to Nicaragua)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus madrensis (southern Sonora, south-west Chihuahua, and north-west Durango)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus nigrirostris (south-west Mexico)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus ocythous (Central Plains states)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus orinomus (southern Mexico, Isthmus of Tehuantepec)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus peninsularis (Baja California)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus scottii (south-western United States and northern Mexico)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus townsendi (northern California and Oregon)
  • Urocyon cinereoargenteus venezuelae (Colombia and Venezuela)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ Cypher et al. (2008). Urocyon cinereoargenteus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 May 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ a b Maine Trappers Association fur auctions. Mta.homestead.com (2005-12-17). Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  4. ^ Robert K. Wayne, Eli Geffen, Derek J. Girman, Klaus P. Koepfli, Lisa M. Lau, Charles R. Marshall (1997). "Molecular Systematics of the Canidae". Systematic Biology 46 (4): 622–653. doi:10.1093/sysbio/46.4.622. PMID 11975336. 
  5. ^ "Sometimes confused with the red fox because of cinnamon-red fur on its sides, the gray fox is increasingly common in rich hardwood forests of the northeast.". Hikenewengland.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  6. ^ "Gray fox are widespread in Connecticut.". Wildlifeofct.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  7. ^ Paleobiology database, Collection 19656, Graham County, Arizona. Authority by the Dr. John Alroy, 18 February 1993.
  8. ^ E. Geffen, A. Mercure, D.J. Girman, D.W. Macdonald, R.K. Wayne (Sep 1992). "Phylogenetic relationships of the fox-like canids: mitochondrial DNA restriction fragment, site and cytochrome b sequence analyses". Journal of Zoology, London 228: 27–39. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1992.tb04430.x. 
  9. ^ a b Erik K. Fritzell, Kurt J. Haroldson (1982). "Urocyon cinereoargenteus". Mammalian Species. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  10. ^ Christine A. Bozarth, Stacey L. Lance, David J. Civitello, Julie L. Glenn, and Jesus E. Maldonado (April 2011). "Phylogeography of the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in the eastern United States". Journal of Mammalogy: 283–294. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  11. ^ T.K. Fuller, B. L. Cypher (2004). C. Sillero-Zubiri, M. Hoffman, and D. W. Macdonald, ed. Gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus. pp. 92–97 in Canids: foxes, wolves, jackals, and dogs. Status survey and conservation action plan. Cambridge, United Kingdom: IUCN Publications. Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  12. ^ a b c "Urocyon cinereoargenteus". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  13. ^ Boitani, Luigi (1984) Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books, ISBN 978-0-671-42805-1
  14. ^ Common Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus). Nsrl.ttu.edu. Retrieved on 2013-01-26.
  15. ^ a b Alderton, p. 122.
  16. ^ a b Fedriani, J. M.; Fuller, T. K.; Sauvajot, R. M. and York, E. C. (2000). "Competition and intraguild predation among three sympatric carnivores". Oecologia 125 (2): 258–270. doi:10.1007/s004420000448. 
  17. ^ Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio; Hoffman, Michael; and MacDonald David W. Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals, and Dogs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN; 2004.p95
  18. ^ Goddard-Taylor, Gayle (Winter 2005–2006). "The Silver Ghost: The life and times of the gray fox". Sanctuary: the Journal of the Massachusetts Audubon Society (Massachusetts Audubon Society) 45 (2): 13–15. 
  19. ^ a b Alderton, p. 124.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alderton, David (1998) Foxes, Wolves, and Wild Dogs of the World. London: Blandford ISBN 081605715X
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Has been placed in the genus Canis or in the genus Vulpes by some authors (as recently as the 1970s). Urocyon cinereoargenteus and U. littoralis have been regarded as possibly conspecific by some authors; treated as distinct species by Jones et al. (1992) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

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Common Names

More info for the term: tree

common gray fox
grey fox
tree fox
maned fox

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The currently accepted scientific name of common gray fox is Urocyon
cinereoargenteus Schreber. It is a member of the dog family (Canidae).
There are 15 accepted subspecies; the 7 subspecies occurring north of
Mexico are as follows [16]:

Urocyon cinereoargenteus borealis Merriam
Urocyon cinereoargenteus californicus Mearns
Urocyon cinereoargenteus cinereoargenteus (Schreber)
Urocyon cinereoargenteus floridanus Rhoads
Urocyon cinereoargenteus ocythous Bangs
Urocyon cinereoargenteus scottii Mearns
Urocyon cinereoargenteus townsendi Merriam
  • 16. Hall, E. Raymond. 1981. The mammals of North America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1271 p. [14765]

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