A Canid That Can Climb Trees

Capstone Project created by PCMN Jan Schwartz, 8/13/20

That would be the gray fox! Who knew?  This fox has very strong hook-like claws and flexible wrists, which allow it to climb trees. It uses the tree as a place to sleep, to escape predators, and also to find food.  They’ve also been known to take their prey up into the trees to eat in peace.

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photo credit: NPS.com

The gray fox dens in the ground (in a stolen den from another animal), in the hollow of a tree lower to the ground, and if they find the right tree with the right branches they will also den up high. The gray fox raises its young in the den until they are about 4 months old. Once the pup reaches that age, its teeth are mature and it can start to forage for itself.

A solitary hunter, the gray fox plays an important part in keeping small rodents in check. They eat rabbits, insects, and lots of fruit when it’s available.  And also, of course, small rodents.

The fox protects itself by climbing trees and by clawing at predators with those strong, sharp claws; they communicate by barking, growling and sometimes squealing; they are primarily nocturnal; and they are relatively small animals weighing in between 8 and 15 pounds and standing 12 to 15 inches tall.

Now, I wonder when I’ve hiked in the evening if those eyes I saw in the trees belonged to an owl or a gray fox!

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