Gray Fox Facts
- This somewhat diminutive but still fascinating creation of Nature most frequently goes by the partially descriptive common name of the Gray Fox. It also has several other alternates, though, These include the maned fox, tree fox, and common gray fox.
- Its formal name, however, is significantly harder to pronounce, perhaps even for experienced professionals. That’s because the official term applied to this marvelous mammal in the halls of science is the tongue-twisting term Urocyon cinereoargenteus.
- The visually distinctive species further received this appellation due to the work of the respected German naturalist, Johann Christian Daniel Schreber. He accomplished the first official recognition of the animal as a separate and distinct species, in 1775.
- Intriguingly, from a scientific standpoint, the creature represents one of only two members of its genus, Urocyon. Both it and the other member genetically represent the closest known surving species, out of all known canids, to a common ancestor.
- For the moment, the Gray Fox appears to be maintaining a population base that’s both stable and sufficient. The IUCN, therefore, currently lists it as Least Concern on its Red List. That holds true despite a reduced population in certain portions of its range.
- This marvel of Nature nevertheless faces some potential threats to its continued existence. Habitat loss, largely due to human encroachment naturally presents a problem. The greatest threat it faces, though, likely consists of ongoing climate change.
Gray Fox Physical Description
The magnificent animal most frequently known as the Gray Fox manages to pack all this awesomeness into a relatively small body. This merely serves to prove the point that physical size remains wholly irrelevant when considering the impressiveness of a species.
Unlike many of its relatives, however, this creature displays little noticeable degree of the physiological characteristic of sexual dimorphism. This fact further applies to both physical size, and color patterns. The precise reason for this, though, remains unknown.
Due to this, distinguishing the separate genders from a safe distance can be difficult, even for trained observors. The average adult, though, reaches a body length of between 19.1 – 26.9 in (48.5 – 78.2 cm). The long tail, though, adds an extra 10.8 – 17.4 in (27.5 – 44.3 cm).
The weight of individual specimens, however, tends to vary significantly. This often ranges from as little as 7.9 lb (3.6 kg), to as much as 15.4 lb (7 kg). Exceptional specimens do occur on occasion, though, These sometimes reach a weight of up to 20 lb (9.1 kg)!
The color pattern of the Gray Wolf presents a striking image to the viewer, as well. The upper parts typically present a grizzled pattern, with a black stripe extending to the end of the tail. It also manifests an off-white on the throat, chest, belly, hind legs, and ears.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Canidae
- Genus: Urocyon
- Species: U. cinereoargenteus
Gray Fox Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Fortunately for the Gray Fox, as well as those of us who appreciate Nature, the canid evolved as native to a relatively large swathe of the globe. In fact, it’s actually the only known wild canid with a natural range that includes both North America and South America.
More precisely, however, the wild canine natively inhabits a range that extends as far north as the southern portions of the country of Canada. From there, that range extends through most of the United States, excluding the northwestern mountains of that country.
From there, its territory extends throughout Central America, and into the extreme northern portions of Venezuela and Colombia. In all portions of that range, though, it displays a decided preference for certain specific types of habitat in which to make its home.
The fascinating animal also displays a strong preference for regions consisting of wooded, rocky, bushy regions. In some small regions, it further manifests a strong fondness for regions of rocky bluffs possessing a dense covering of brush for its habitat.
Like most of its relatives, the Gray Fox evolved as a primarily nocturnal animal. It typically spends most of its days concealed in either burrows, hollow trees, or stumps. It’s also omnivorous, feeding on small prey, insects, and certain local plants, especially fruit.
In one manner, however, this extraordinary animal remains completely unique. That’s due to the incredible fact that it’s the only known canid to routinely climb trees! There, it often make sits home as high as 30 ft (9.1 m) up in the branches, and climbs like a cat.