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Gray fox

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Gray fox
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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Gray Fox
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The Gray Fox is a species of fox found mostly in the southern part of North America. Its location ranges anywhere from southern Canada to Northern Venezuela and Colombia. It is a member of the dog family, just like all other foxes. The binomial name of the Gray Fox is Urocyon cinereoargenteus. Gray Foxes are one of the two species that are a member of the genus Urocyon.[1] The Gray Fox and the Red Fox look very similar with one main difference; the Gray Fox can climb trees.[2]

Anatomy

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The Gray Foxes appearance is very distinguished from other canids[3]. Gray Foxes range in length between 32 and 45 inches and weighs between 7 and 11 pounds. Most of its body is a grizzled gray color. On its underside it is white starting at the neck and extends under the rest of its body. The sides of a Gray Fox are a rusty reddish color. On the top part of the foxes tail there is a black mane and at the tip it is either black or dark gray. It has a long muzzle and pointy ears that face forward. [4] There isn't a lot of difference between a male and female Gray fox except for that the male is a little bigger. If a skull of a Gray Fox is found it is pretty easy to tell that it is a Gray Fox. The way one can tell if the skull once belonged to a Gray Fox is by seeing if the temporal ridges are widely spread out and they create a U-shape.[5] Gray Foxes also have very strong claws that help them to climb trees.[6]

Reproduction

Like most mammals Gray foxes give birth to live young. They start to mate in February or March. The period of gestation (development) takes around 51 days to be completed. After this period is over the vixen (female fox) gives birth to 3 to 7 kits (baby fox). When the kits are born they are a dark brown color. For the first 10 days of their life, they are blind. After living in the den for about 5 weeks it is finally time for the young to venture out. It takes 10 weeks for the kits to be weaned. During this time period, it is the father’s job to prepare food for his family. The family separates in late fall and stay solitary for the winter. Now it is time for the young foxes to start this process all over again. [7] Gray Foxes never cross-bread with a Red Fox in the wild. [8]

Ecology

Sleeping Gray Fox

The Gray Fox can be mostly found in the southern part of North America [9] in the brush area, swamplands and mountains terrains. The Gray Fox is most known for climbing trees. Thanks to its hooked claws, climbing trees comes very easily to it. The only other canid that is capable of climbing trees is the Asian raccoon dog. Climbing trees is a big asset to the Gray Fox because, not only does it help him get food, it also protects him from predators such as the coyote. The Gray Fox gets down by jumping from tree branch to tree branch. [10]

For the most part, the Gray Fox is nocturnal, which means it is mainly active at night. Sometimes, it can be seen during the day looking for food. The diet of a Gray Fox, since it is an omnivore, consists of small mammals, berries, eggs, acorns, insects, fruits, and birds.[11] But, the Gray fox does have a preference, the Cottontail Rabbit.[12]

Gray Foxes live in holes called dens that are made by the female. The Gray Fox usually uses a hollow tree for its home. However, if she doesn't make her home out of a tree she digs a den in the dirt or makes another animal's den larger. A den may be up to 75 feet long and can have 10 or more exit. Also, there are a number of chambers that are use for the storage of food or transfer of the young.[13]

Tracks

The tracks of a Gray Fox are very interesting. If you look at the tracks of a Gray Fox you will be able to tell if it was running. When it runs all of the foot prints are in one line. The foot prints of the front and the back paw over lap each other, appearing as one, because they step in the same spot. On average the paw prints of a Gray Fox are 2 inches apart and the semi-retractable paw is not visible. The only types of animals that walk like this are foxes and members of the cat family.[14]

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