Gray Fox

Gray Fox:  Photo Credit: T. Kitchin & V. Hurst

Gray Fox: Photo Credit: T. Kitchin & V. Hurst

Gray Fox       Photo Credit: T. Kitchin & V. Hurst

The Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) ranges across most of the southern half of North America. The subspecies in Kansas is Urocyon cinereoargenteus ocythous. It roams forested regions of easternmost Kansas as well as riparian habitats, particularly along tributaries of the Arkansas River. The gray fox has relatively long, slender legs supporting a narrow body. It has triangular-shaped ears and an extremely narrow muzzle. Its has short coarse fur (salt & pepper) that becomes an orange swath running from the ears down the side of the neck and onto the throat. A dark, almost black stripe runs along the back and continues along the dorsal crest of the tail. By comparison, the red fox (a distinct genus) has a white tipped tail. In contrast to foxes, the gray fox has oval pupils instead of slit-like. The red fox also has “black stockings” not present on the gray fox. The gray fox is omnivorous, consuming mostly small mammals like cottontails and pocket gophers. It supplements this diet with insects and birds (doves & quail). This fox is adept at climbing trees as evident from the photo above. In late summer and fall, persimmons and acorns become its primary food. It is much more active at night but may be observed foraging during the day. Man is its most common predator followed by eagles, coyotes, and bobcats.