Gray Fox
Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Dog and Fox Family (Canidae)
By E. Ann Poole

Gray fox in a tree (photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
Gray fox in a tree (photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
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. Unlike its better-known cousin, the gray fox has a black tail tip and relatively short powerful legs.

But what really sets the gray fox apart is its cat-like ability to climb trees. If threatened, the gray fox heads for the treetops to escape and wait for danger to pass. It makes its way down by jumping branch-to-branch or shimmying down backward.

Gray foxes are nocturnal and den-up during the day in a hole, rock pile, hollow log, or brush pile. Small mammals are the mainstays of their diet, but they will eat almost anything. As much as half their diet is plant material, such as grass, corn, apples, and wild grapes. Unlike the fox in Aesop's tale, there are no sour grapes for this shy forest denizen.

E. Ann Poole is a Consulting Ecologist & Environmental Planner in Hillsborough, NH. She can be reached by calling 603.478.1178 or via the web at eannpoole.com.

Gray fox on rock (photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)
Gray fox on rock (photo courtesy of Illinois Department of Natural Resources)

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