Urocyon cinereoargenteus Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
The gray fox is one of Florida’s most commonly seen carnivores. Though most are wary, some individuals become quite tame. They are frequently seen at night on unpaved roads, and individuals often allow themselves to be followed for some distance. The gray fox has a wide red-orange stripe along both flanks and on the sides of the neck, and a black-tipped tail. It is often confused with the red fox, which is a mahogany red, and has a white-tipped tail.
Red and gray foxes are similar in size and weigh 3-5 kg (7-11 lb). A coyote weighs about 3 times as much as a fox and looks like a smaller bushy-tailed version of a German shepherd dog.
Gray foxes are adaptable, opportunistic carnivores, flexible in their feeding habits, and quite tolerant of people. They feed on small animals, fruit, and insects, but they will also eat out of garbage cans and scavenge road-killed animals. Gray foxes prey heavily on rabbits, but they also eat rodents, birds, insects, acorns and fruit. They are active at night and usually hunt alone. They move at a rapid trot, eyes, ears and nose alert for signs of prey.
Gray foxes are most abundant in hardwood forests, pine-oak woodlands and brushy fields. They are the only member of the canid (dog) family that regularly climbs trees and have been seen in trees at heights up to 18 meters (59 ft).
Gray foxes usually form pair bonds that last year-round. Pairs mate in winter and produce a litter of about 4 pups in March or April after a gestation period of 53 days. Both parents guard and feed the young.
Fox populations are vulnerable to infectious diseases, especially rabies and canine distemper.
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