Texas, with its wide range of habitats, is home to an array of animals including the common gray fox. It is a member of the canid family, related to wolves and domestic dogs and sharing a number of common traits. Common dentition and nonretractable claws link most canids. Wild canids are also often viewed as pests due to predation of domestic animals.
The common gray fox grows to around 38 inches in length and weighs between 6 to 11 lbs. on average. It is mainly gray in color with hints of reddish fur and a reddish-brown coloring on the belly and under the jaw. A dark brown to black stripe is evident along the spine. The fox has a thick, bushy tail with large, pointed ears and a sharp muzzle. Its body is long with comparatively short legs.
Habitat and Range
In Texas, the common gray fox can be found statewide but is most common in the eastern two-thirds of the state. It lives in a range of forested habitats, making dens beneath hollow logs and trees as well as in underground burrows. In rare cases, the foxes have been found living in tree trunk hollows several feet off the ground. Unlike the gray's close cousin, the red, it tends to avoid urban areas but can be found on the outskirts of more rural human habitation. The gray fox is the only canid species that can climb trees.
Diet and Predators
The gray fox is an omnivore and has a seasonal diet in Texas. During the winter, cottontails, cotton rats, gophers and mice are common food sources. A variety of insects and birds are also consumed including grasshoppers, doves and quail. The fox eats a similar diet during the summer but eats more vegetation such as persimmons and acorns. Shellfish also enter the diet during the summer months. As a small canid, the gray has a few natural predators including the golden eagle, great horned owl, coyote and bobcat.
The breeding season for common gray foxes in Texas runs from December into March. The animals live a solitary life outside of mating season and will pair off to breed and care for the young. Pregnancies last around 53 to 63 days before the female gives birth to between one to seven pups in the den. Both parents care for the young with the male doing most of the hunting. Gray foxes become independent at between 10 to 17 months of age and can live to between 6 and 10 years old in the wild.