Had I not witnessed this myself, I would not be reporting it as fact. In the previous week, we have observed two baby foxes (kits) in our backyard. Nothing unusual, right? However, in this case, one is a red fox and the other a gray fox! Two different species apparently living yards apart, but not backyards!
After observing these magnificent creatures, I immediately turned to the internet to learn more about their habits and the geography of these very different and distinct creatures. Here’s what I learned.
The grays are carnivorous mammals and have been around for almost four million years. They are commonly found in the Southern half of North America. The gray fox is the “only” American canid that can climb trees due to their strong hooked claws. In fact, a den can even be found 30 feet above ground in a hollow tree. The litter ranges from one to seven kits, and the young foxes begin hunting at three months old. They are typically born in late March and April. Fruit is an important part of their diet, as are birds, vegetables and rodents. They are normally nocturnal (we saw our backyard friend under the lights) and have black-tipped tails. They weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.
The red fox has been around for an estimated seven million years. They are part of social groups which can consist of three to four adults. They can be found in most of North America and fare particularly well in affluent suburbs (welcome to Oxford!). Like the gray, they enjoy fruits, vegetables, birds and rodents. They typically dig their dens and have several for protection. A male is called a “dog” and a female is referred to as a “vixen.” The kits emerge in late April, which is exactly when we observed our backyard neighbor during daylight hours. They can weigh between 6 and 24 pounds.
Mike Merchant, CEO of Wildlife Resolutions, was asked his opinion and knowledge of the two species. Merchant indicated that their populations here in Oxford are very close in numbers as the grays prefer more wooded areas than the red. He emphasized that they will not interbreed and their eating habits are fairly similar.
How they would interact with one another if their paths cross remains to be seen. Although similar in some ways, they are very different in others. Welcome to the world of diversity… animal kingdom style right here in Oxford, Mississippi.
Photos courtesy of earthporm.com.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.