Deer in Spring Landscape

Gray Fox
(Urocyon cinereoargentius)

Photo of gray fox in tree by Steve Wayne Rotsch/Painet

Description & Range:

Gray foxes are common animals that can be found throughout Maryland and much of the eastern and southern United States.

The gray fox is somewhat stout and has shorter legs than the red fox. Its coat is mostly grizzled-gray with some reddish fringes throughout its body. The cheeks, throat, inner ears and most of the underside are white. The upper part of the tail, including the tip, is black. The gray fox ranges from 30 to 44 inches in total length and can weigh from 8 to 15 pounds. Red foxes have a white tip on their tail.

Habitat:

Gray foxes typically live in dense forests with some edge habitat for hunting. Their home ranges typically are 2-4 miles. Gray foxes can also be found in suburban areas.


Diet:

Gray foxes are omnivorous, meaning that they can eat both plants and animals. Prey items frequently eaten by gray foxes include rabbits, mice, squirrels, rats and insects. Game birds are frequently eaten, including quail, turkeys and ruffed grouse. Gray foxes will also eat carrion and plants including fruits, nuts and berries.

Reproduction:

Foxes breed from January through March with the gray fox tending to breed 2 to 4 weeks later than the red fox. After an average gestation period of 53 days, the female fox gives birth to a litter averaging 4 or 5 pups. The gray fox usually does not use an underground den but, instead, dens in dense brush, cavities in stumps and trees, rock crevices or under out-buildings such as barns and sheds.

Photo of gray fox by USFWS

Sounds:

Gray foxes are less vocal than red foxes and will occasionally bark or yap.

Behavior:

Gray foxes tend to be active from the late evening hours until dawn (nocturnal). Because of this, they are seen much less than red foxes. They will readily climb trees, jumping from branch to branch while hunting or for protection. Red foxes cannot climb trees. Gray foxes are generally very territorial but have small home ranges.

Gray Foxes are managed as furbearers in Maryland. To learn more about furbearer management, then Click here.