Meet Shadow! Shadow is a male gray fox who was born April 21, 2012 and came to us from a breeder located in Pennsylvania. He arrived at Wildwood on May 16, 2012. Shadow shares his exhibit with Blizzard, our Arctic fox. Shadow is incredibly smart and social fox who is a favorite around the zoo!
Gray fox are a medium-sized fox with grayish upper parts, reddish brown legs, tawny sides, and whitish throat, cheeks and mid-line of belly; sides of muzzle and lower jaw with distinct blackish patch; tail with distinct blackish stripe on upper side and black tip (no white on end of tail as in the red fox); tail roughly triangular, not round. They usually weigh anywhere from 6-11 pounds. Gray fox are one of two canid species with retractable claws like a cat (the other being the Asian raccoon dog). They are excellent tree climbers, which is probably why they aren’t spotted too often in the wild. Foxes have over 200,000,000 scent receptors in their nose. One of the most obvious reasons for a refined sense of smell is sniffing out food. A male fox is called a dog, and a female is called a vixen. Young can be called kits, pups, whelps, or cubs. Foxes have scent glands near their tail, jaw, and between their toes. Soft toe pads and hair between their toes muffles sounds. They have whiskers on their paws. There are five species of fox in North America: Red, Gray, Arctic, Swift and Kit.
Gray fox range throughout most of the southern half of North America, from southern Canada to the northern part of South America (Venezuela and Colombia).
The gray fox is essentially an inhabitant of wooded areas, particularly mixed hardwood forests. They are common throughout wooded sections east of the shortgrass plains and in the pinyon-juniper community above the low lying deserts.
Gray fox litters average 3-4 kits (2-7 possible). Kits are born in April or May. At 4 weeks old, kits get regurgitated meat. Gray fox begin hunting on their own at 4 months. Pups stay with their parents until the fall.
In the wild: 5-6 years
In human care: 12 years
The gray fox is the most omnivorous of all canines. Spring and winter food consists mainly of small mammals, insects, and birds. In late summer and fall, persimmons and acorns make up a good portion of their diet. They also eat many berries.