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Mississippi State University

Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)


The gray fox is a forest-dwelling canid and is native to all of the southeastern states. Gray fox are noteworthy because of their ability to climb. This ability has likely allowed gray fox to coexist with coyotes, whereas red fox populations have declined with increasing coyote populations. Gray fox densities generally range from 1.2 to 2.1 fox/square kilometer.

Gray fox are monestrous with breeding occurring from December through March. Litter sizes average 3.8 pups. Gray fox apparently form pair bonds and are strongly monogamous with both parents likely caring for young.

Gray fox are omnivorous, consuming a diversity of foods including rodents (mice, rats), squirrels, rabbits, birds, insects, and plant material (fruits, vegetation). Rabbits and small mammals have been reported to be most important in gray fox diets in several regions. Gray fox diets change seasonally, as animal matter is most important during winter whereas plant matter is more important during summer.

Home range sizes for gray fox range from 240 to 2000 ha and home range size is similar between sexes. The lack of differences in home range sizes between sexes is expected, given the gray foxes monogamous nature and the strong pair bond formed by a breeding pair. Gray fox may select a variety of habitat types, including mature mixed pine-hardwood and pine stands, and early successional pine habitats.

Canine distemper may significantly affect gray fox populations. Often, canine distemper may result in extreme reductions in local populations of gray fox. Gray fox also are susceptible to canine heartworm and infectious canine hepatitis.