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Wildlife Spotlight: Gray Fox

PictureA gray fox caught on an Irvine Ranch Conservancy wildlife camera

There is a little-seen but very special mammal living on the Landmarks. This animal comes out mostly at night, hunting for fauna and flora to eat, and is one of the few creatures of its kind with the ability to climb trees. During the day, it sleeps in a den it has made from a hollow tree, stump, burrow or cave. Some might be tempted to describe this animal as cute!

The gray fox was once the most common fox in the United States, widely spread through both eastern and western states. Thought the red fox is now more dominant in the East, gray foxes can still be found in large numbers in the West, particularly in Pacific states like California. Though they’re seldom seen, there are gray foxes living across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, hiding from the sun during the day and hunting at night. The gray fox is distinguishable from other foxes by its markings. Its underside is white, with a gray coat fading into red, and a distinctive black stripe down its tail.

​Gray foxes have been observed in monogamous mating arrangements. Females give birth to a litter of one to seven pups, also known as kits, which the male helps to raise and feed. Foxes are able to start hunting on their own when they are only three to four months old and tend to leave the family unit soon after this time, while the father and mother mate again next season to re-start the cycle.