Friday, December 30, 2011

Tree Climbing Wild Dogs!

Red fox caught on my trail camera January 2010 (in meadow behind house)
Brandon Township, Michigan

You know the red fox, (Vulpes vulpes) the elusive little fox that is found throughout
Michigan and is very much at home in Oakland County.  This highly adaptable creature
hunts meadow voles under snow in winter: That is what this one (above) was
doing last winter in my meadow between the barn and house.  And if a chicken, squirrel,
 bird or rabbit is a bit too slow, they too may join the menu. When pursued by man or
beast (coyotes and wolves kill red fox) they race for thick brush or their underground den.
 But there is another fox found in Oakland County and across much of the
United States that few know of.
Meet the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargentus)
The gray fox is smaller than a red fox and usually has a prominent gray back. But there
 is a better way to tell them apart, the tip of the tail. The red fox has  a white tip, the gray
 fox a black tipped tail.
But perhaps the best way to tell is a behaviorial charecteristic captured perfectly by my
friend Duane Corsi duing his recent wanderings in South Carolina: Gray fox are excellent
tree climbers, the only member of the dog family with this ability. And in Oakland County
 with numerous oaks in woodlands there are plenty of trees to climb.
Their claws are adapted to grasp the tree and faster than you can say, "What the heck is that?"
 the gray fox grips the tree trunk and heads up for a big limb. 
Gray fox watched the world from his tree in coastal South Carolina
photo courtesy of Duane Corsi


Anonymous Anonymous said...

why is the fox tail longer than their body?

December 30, 2011 at 8:44 AM 
Blogger Jonathan Schechter said...

I dont think it is really longer, but the tail is a great winter blanket and perhaps in the gray fox may help in balance as it moves from tree limb to limb.

December 30, 2011 at 9:02 AM 
Anonymous Duane Corsi said...

We had a red fox that crossed our frozen lake many times last year. His (or her) red coat was beautifully contrasted against the gleaming white snow in the sunshine. Hope the fox returns this year, if our lake ever freezes.

December 31, 2011 at 2:16 AM 
Blogger Jonathan Schechter said...

Yes Duane, we could use some frozen lakes and white snow---for out winter pursuits and to expose the trails of the tales and wanderings of these two fox species!

December 31, 2011 at 9:53 AM 

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