In the 40 acre woods we have lots of wildlife, many are usually more active at night. One of these is the gray fox. They have quite a lot of red hair and may be confused with the red fox but I think these little predators are beautiful.
The adult gray fox may weigh from 7 to 13 pounds and measure up to 40 inches including a 12 inch tail. The female is slightly smaller than the male. The hair along the middle of the back and tail is tipped in black and has the appearance of a black mane. The face, sides, back, and tail are gray, while the under parts are white and the sides of the neck and underside of the tail a rusty-yellow color.
The gray fox is widespread across most of the United States and while found throughout Florida, it is much more abundant in the northern sections. Normally found in wooded areas, as it prefers to live in more inaccessible cover. We have plenty of blueberry thickets for fox to hide in at the 40 acre woods.
The gray fox is essentially a nocturnal animal, and has a yapping bark. The gray fox is sometimes referred to as the “tree fox” and can scramble-up a tree quickly, it is the only member of the dog family capable of climbing. I have seen this pair during the early morning hours while I was deer hunting, but as you can see they prefer the night.
Foxes mate in Florida during January or February. An average of three to five young (pups) are born after a gestation period of about 53 days. Pups are brownish-black and fully furred, but blind for the first nine days. They nurse for about two months and stay with their parents until late summer or fall. Both male and female are devoted parents and provide food, care, and training to the youngsters. The den site may be hollow logs, gopher holes or hollow trees.
Mice, rats and rabbits are the mainstays of the gray fox’s diet, although it will consume almost anything edible including the corn I left out for the deer. All types of small birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, fruits, berries, insects, and some carrion serve to supplement the diet. The gray fox seldom raids the farmer’s hen house, as it prefers to live in wilder, more dense brushy cover. While gray fox serve to maintain a balance in the rodent and rabbit populations, they, in turn, are preyed upon by dogs and bobcats, and young fox may fall to the owl, hawk, or coyote.
Avoid contact with a wild fox, they are more fun to watch at the 40 acre woods.