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Archive - November 2018

gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus

What is a Gray Fox?
A gray fox is a mammal. Like all mammals, it has four limbs (legs). It has hair (fur). Its body temperature is kept at the same level regardless of the outside temperature. Its young are born after developing inside the mother's body in a special organ called the uterus. After birth, the young are fed with milk produced in the female’s mammary glands. It has a complex brain.

What Does It Look Like?
The fur on the back is gray, with a salt-and-pepper look. Light red fur is present on the back of the ears, belly, top of the feet, sides and underside of the tail. There is a white stripe of fur on the underside from the throat to the tail. The tail has a black, furred line in the middle and a black tip. The chin, lips and nose are black, too. The muzzle is pointed with a black band on each side. The tail is long and bushy.  

How Big Is It?
The head-body length is 21 to 29 inches. The tail is 11 to 16 inches long. The average weight of an adult gray fox ranges from five and one-half to nine pounds.

Where Does It Live?
The gray fox lives statewide in woodlands and urban areas. This species is more common in southern Illinois and along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers than in the rest of the state.

How Does It Reproduce?
Mating occurs from January through March. Young are born in April and May. The average litter size is four. The young are on their own after about four months.

What Does It Eat?
The gray fox feeds on a variety of foods, including fruits, birds, corn, insects, nuts, mice, rabbits, voles, crayfish, reptiles, dead animals and grasses.

Does Anything Eat It?
Bobcats (Lynx rufus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) may prey on gray foxes, if they have the opportunity.

What Else Should I Know About It?

  • The gray fox readily climbs trees and may rest in a tree.
  • This species is active mainly at dawn, dusk and at night.
  • Most gray foxes die within their first year, but a few live to six years of age or more.
  • Collisions with motor vehicles are a major mortality cause for this species.

Can I Hunt It?
Yes. This mammal is a furbearer. It is trapped and hunted for the fur it can provide. See the regulations in the most current issue of the Illinois Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

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