In most neighborhoods, the gray fox is rarely seen, but in parts of northeast Broward they are now thriving, and it is becoming quite common to see them almost daily. Native to Florida, they can be found throughout the state.
Frequently a gray fox will have quite a lot of reddish fur, which some will confuse it with the red fox. An adult will weigh between 7 and 13 pounds and measure up to 40 inches long, which includes the 12-inch tail. A female is slightly smaller than the male. The hair along the middle of the back, and tail tipped in black gives it an appearance of a black mane. Their face, sides, back, and tail are gray, and the underparts are white. The neck and underside of the tail area are rusty-yellow color. Pups are brownish-black and fully-furred.
The gray fox is nocturnal and sometimes referred to as the tree fox. It is one of the few members of the dog family capable of climbing trees. Using their front legs to hug tree trunks, they use their hind legs to push up. Coming back down, it will move down backward. If the tree has a slant to it, they will run down head-first.
In general, they are nonviolent in nature and have a tendency to stay away from conflict with other pets or animals. Stories of them killing livestock and chickens for sport is completely false. If they happen upon a hen house, they will kill the chickens, eat what they need and take the remaining meat with them for later consumption.
Once they have discovered a mate, typically they mate with it alone. Mating season is from January through March. The gestation period is approximately 63 days, and there will be three to five pups in a litter. After nursing for about two months, they stay with their parents until late summer or fall. Both the male and female provide food, care and train the pups. Once mating season is over and the pups are on their own, they will share an area but will live apart and hunt separately.
The gray fox’s diet consists of mice, rats, and rabbits. That being said, they are known for consuming almost anything edible. A gray fox will store surplus food by burying it under leaves or the soil for intake soon after.
In South Florida, they started reestablishing themselves at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in 2015, after they disappeared eight years earlier due to an outbreak of the fatal viral disease, distemper. With help from the South Florida Wildlife Center of Fort Lauderdale, they have also been able to reestablish themselves back at Okeeheelee Nature Center after three rescued orphans were released.