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Mississippi State University

Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Movement and Activity


Gray Fox Movement rates did not differ between sexes (P = 0.891), but did across periods (P = 0.011) and seasons (P = 0.043). Gray fox moved at greater rates during whelping-pup rearing (446.3 m/hr) and fall-winter (432.2 m/hr) than during breeding-denning (344.7 m/hr). Gray fox also exhibited greater movement rates during crepuscular (454.6 m/hr) and nocturnal periods (443.5 m/hr) than during diurnal periods (265.1 m/hr).

Mean percentage activity did not differ between males (55%) and females (51%) (P = 0.356). However, percentage activity differed across seasons (P = 0.007) and periods (P <0.001). Percentage activity was higher during fall-winter (64%) and parturition-young rearing (56%) than during breeding-gestation (47%). Gray fox were more active during nocturnal periods (73%) than crepuscular periods (63%). Likewise, gray fox were more active during crepuscular periods than diurnal periods (23%).


Previous research in the southeastern United States has reported that movements were similar between sexes, but different among seasons, with less movements during denning periods. Our data supports these earlier findings as movement rates did not differ between sexes. Given the lack of significant sexual dimorphism in gray foxes and the potential for biparental care of pups, it is not surprising that movement rates were similar between sexes. Gray fox on TWMA exhibited greatest movement rates during whelping-pup rearing and lowest rates during breeding-denning. Lower movement rates during breeding-denning are likely from denning behavior. Increasing movement rates during whelping-pup rearing were likely from pair members intensifying foraging efforts to fulfill increasing food requirements for parents and young. Additionally, throughout the species range, gray foxes display greatest activity during nocturnal and crepuscular periods. Similarly, gray foxes on TWMA and GP were most active during nocturnal periods. Likewise, other studies have reported gray foxes to move greater distances during night than day and gray foxes on TWMA exhibited greater movement rates during crepuscular and nocturnal periods.