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Gray Fox

Gray fox tracks show four toes and claws. Sometimes, the semi-retractable claws do not show. Their tracks average less than two inches in length. Tracks commonly run in straight lines, one print in front of the other. Front and hind prints overlap each other and appear as one print. This is known as direct register. Only foxes and members of the cat family walk in this manner. In fine mud, the hair on the foot may be visible in the track.

Gray foxes are primarily nocturnal and hunt small mammals. Sometimes, they hunt by day. They are the only canines that can climb trees. They seek refuge in trees and also climb to find food. The bark of the gray fox sounds like a hoarse cough. If you startle a fox, it may bark at you.

Foxes are omnivorous. They eat small mammals, birds, insects, eggs, fruit, nuts, grains, and even human garbage. Rabbits are a preferred prey animal. In campgrounds, you might see them at night, picking through fire rings in search of morsels from campers' meals. They are frequently seen crossing roads at night. In towns, they often eat pet food.

Foxes den in rock piles or hollow logs. About five young are born in spring. Both parents care for the young and teach them how to hunt.

Click here to see drawings of gray fox tracks.

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Revised: 25 September 1997
Written by Kim A. Cabrera
Copyright © 1997 Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association