Gray Fox

Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Gray Fox Tracks

 
Front Track Size Hind Track Size
1 7/16 - 2 in. L x 1 3/16 - 1.75 in. W 1.25 - 1.75 in. L x 1 1 7/16 in. W

Natural History of Gray Foxes

Gray fox tracks show four toes and claws. Sometimes, the semi-retractable claws do not show. Their tracks average less than two inches in length. Tracks commonly run in straight lines, one print in front of the other. Front and hind prints overlap each other and appear as one print. Only foxes and members of the cat family walk in this manner. In fine mud, the hair on the foot may be visible in the track.

Gray foxes are primarily nocturnal and hunt small mammals. Sometimes, they hunt by day. They are the only canines that can climb trees. They seek refuge in trees and also climb to find food. The bark of the gray fox sounds like a hoarse cough. If you startle a fox, it may bark at you.

Foxes are omnivorous. They eat small mammals, birds, insects, eggs, fruit, nuts, grains, and even human garbage. Rabbits are a preferred prey animal. In campgrounds, you might see them at night, picking through fire rings in search of morsels from campers' meals. They are frequently seen crossing roads at night. In towns, they often eat pet food.

Foxes den in rock piles or hollow logs. About five young are born in spring. Both parents care for the young and teach them how to hunt.

Sly, the fox from Florida Sly the Fox

   

 

Gray fox track in mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A very nice gray fox track that shows imprints of the fur. These animals have fur on the bottoms of their feet and it shows in their tracks.
   
A nice pair of overlapping gray fox tracks. The hind track is the lower right and the front track is upper left. The hind track didn't leave much of an imprint, but the upper left toe did land on top of the front track.

Gray fox tracks in mud. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

   

Gray fox hind footprint. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A perfect gray fox hind track. Very nice details are visible in this print, including fur imprints.
   
Another nice gray fox track. Good wet sand or mud is great for tracking!

Gray fox hind paw print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

   

Gray fox tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A set of gray fox tracks. The direction of travel is away from the viewer.
   
Another furry track in mud.

Gray fox track showing fuzziness due to fur. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

   

overlapping pair of gray fox tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Beautiful set of gray fox tracks. Front and hind are easy to make out in this photo.
   
A perfect set of gray fox tracks in mud. The details of fur on the feet can be seen here.

Perfect set of Gray fox tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

   

Gray fox gait. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A nice gray fox walking gait through damp sand. The direction of travel is to the left.

   

Gray fox walking gait. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A gray fox trail pattern near a river. The direction of travel is to the right. The individual tracks from front and hind feet overlap slightly. If they registered on top of each other, it would be called direct register. Foxes will direct register sometimes.
   

Gray fox scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A gray fox scat composed of berries and seeds.

 

Gray fox track in mud. Front track. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

A perfect gray fox front track found along the Eel River. This track shows all the details that make it a canine print. The large area of negative space is characteristic of fox tracks. The sharp claws of the fox make fine marks ahead of the toes.

 

Gray fox track casting. Front track. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

Cast of the perfect fox track above. This track was cast in a material called Rockite. This is a material I was experimenting with as a casting material. It is used to patch concrete, but worked well for making track casts. It did take a while to dry though.
 

Gray fox track in sand. Front track. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

Nice front track of a gray fox in muddy sand near the river. Notice the tiny claw marks ahead of the toes. The claws of foxes are semi-retractable and don't wear down as dull as those of dogs do. Gray foxes can use their claws to climb trees.
 

Gray fox track pair in mud. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

This overlapping pair of gray fox tracks shows the hind footprint on top of the front one. Hind tracks are smaller than the front ones.
 
 
 
gray fox scat deposited on dumpster lid. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera.

This gray fox scat was deposited on the lid of a dumpster after food was thrown out in it. There were many fox tracks on top of the lid and even some brush marks from fur where the fox had climbed on top of the dumpster. The lids of the bin are heavy and designed to keep animals out (especially bears), so the fox was thwarted in its efforts to get food. However, the smells coming from inside were enough to make the fox very curious. It tried hard to get inside too.

 
gray fox scat on a deck. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera.

This gray fox scat was deposited on a deck. Campers had used the cabin during the weekend and the fox marked on the deck afterward. Apparently, it was some sort of way to mark its territory. Foxes often deposit their scats on top of prominent objects like boulders, steps, decks, rocks, and anything else that sticks up above the ground.

 
 
gray fox trail on sand dune. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera

Typical gray fox trail across a coastal sand dune. Each imprint is actually an overlapping pair of hind track on top of front track.

 
fox track with carpal pad

This beautiful gray fox track in sand shows a feature you don't often see - the carpal pad! This is the small pad located above the dewclaw (toe #1) on the animal's front feet. There are five toes, plus the carpal pad. When the animal is moving fast, as in a run, this pad will occasionally leave a mark. This pad is located on the outside of the "arm," so that makes this the right front foot!

 
fox tracks in frozen mud
A beautiful pair of gray fox tracks in deep mud that has frozen over.
 
 
many gray fox tracks
A nice collection of gray fox tracks in deep mud next to a river
 
gray fox and brush rabbit tracks

Gray fox tracks at the top. The single track at the bottom is a brush rabbit's track. (Type of cottontail rabbit) The top track is the fox's front track and the middle one is the fox's hind track.

 
gray fox digging

A gray fox dug into the sand to find something to eat here. You can see the fox tracks all around the dirt mound, which identifies which animal did the digging here.

 
To see more gray fox signs, see the Gray Fox Scat page.
To see more gray fox photos, see the Trail Camera Animal Photos page
Video showing gray fox depositing scat as a scent marking behavior
 
 

Great series of photos of a gray fox climbing a tree. These photos were donated by J. Muse. Thanks! The object the fox is trying to get is a cone filled with peanut butter. It is used to feed the squirrels, but the fox decided it would make a nice snack. Gray foxes are the only canines that can climb trees.

Gray fox climbs tree. Photo by J. Muse 2003. Gray fox climbs tree. Photo by J. Muse 2003. Gray fox climbs tree. Photo by J. Muse 2003.

Gray fox track in sand. The front track shown on left has a lot of space between the heel pad and the toes. You can tell it is a front track because the heel pad is more robust than that of the hind track. (See pair of tracks below.) Front tracks are larger than the hind ones.
   
Gray fox trail in alluvial river silt. This photo was taken in summer, when the details of the tracks are easily lost as the winds pick up over the course of a day. These tracks were found in the morning. By afternoon, only the rounded dots were left to indicate a fox had passed here.

Gray fox trail in sand. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

   

Gray fox sits down in sand. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

The gray fox was walking along and paused to sit down and scratch. The actions are easily visible in this print. The fine hairs from the tail left marks behind where the fox sat. The fox's entire body left this track. The two prints in the upper right of the photo are the fox's approach trail. This type of soil is excellent for finding such detail. It is fragile and wind easily carries away these tracks. Getting out early in the morning increases your chances of finding complete stories like this one.
   
 

The photo on the right shows a fox-eye view of a fox trail along the river bar. Note how the prints overlap. Each print is actually a hind print on top of a front one.

Fox-eye view of its own trail.
   
Pair of fox tracks. The front track is on the right and the hind track is on the left in this photo. Front track is larger. The hind track appears skinnier. The claw marks are far ahead of the toes, indicating fairly long claws. The gray fox is the only canine that can climb trees. Perhaps these long claws help it climb.
   
The hind track of a gray fox cast in plaster of Paris. This cast is from a mold and shows details that rarely show in casts made in the field.

Gray fox hind foot cast in plaster.

   

Gray fox track in mud. Mouse tracks in upper right.

Gray fox track in mud along the south fork of the Eel River near Redway, California. The tiny tracks in the upper right of the photo are mouse tracks. Note the hair visible in the fox track. This photo was taken December 20, 2000.
   

Gray fox front track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Gray fox front track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Front and hind gray fox tracks in mud at the edge of a river. These tracks show incredible detail, but lack most of the claw marks. Gray fox claws are semi-retractable and don't always show in tracks. These two tracks are from the same animal.
   

Gray fox track and scat. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

This scat was deposited by a gray fox during the night. The track was still intact and hadn't blown away in the wind yet. Afternoon winds often destroy tracks in coastal dune environments like this one.

 

Gray fox scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Gray fox scat on a riverside rock. One scat contains grass. The others have fur from prey.
   
Gray fox scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Gray fox scat on a rock.

 

   

Gray fox scat latrine. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

A close-up of a gray fox latrine. This location is used over and over again. There are scats here of various ages and various diets. Bones and fur from prey are visible in most. The one on the left contains seeds and plant matter.

 

Gray fox scat latrine. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

This is the same latrine as above, but a distant view showing the location. This was the biggest, tallest rock in the area. Foxes use prominent objects for their latrines as a communication with other foxes.
 
Gray fox scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

This gray fox scat, and a few others, were located on a bridge leading into a campground. This bridge is the only access to the campground and many animals cross it nightly to forage in the campground for scraps of food dropped by campers.

   
Latrine used by gray fox and raccoon. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 1999.
Latrine used by gray fox and raccoon. Gray fox scat on left and above and below raccoon's. This is located near a good food source - a dumpster behind a school.

 

Gray fox scat. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Gray fox scat found on a bridge at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area campground.
Gray fox scat found on a bridge at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area campground. Foxes often deposit scats near good food sources. Campgrounds, with their large numbers of people and lots of food, certainly qualify. 

Gray fox scat. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

   

Gray fox tracks in coastal dunes. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

Trail of a gray fox. The relatively straight lines of fox trails distinguish them from those of domestic dogs. Foxes live out in this environment all the time and waste less energy on running around sniffing at everything. Domestic dogs get outdoors and become excited by all the new sights and smells in the new environment. Thus, their trails wind around a lot more than those of wild canines.
 
Gray fox track sequence. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.
A set of gray fox tracks, showing all four prints. The two on the left are the hind tracks, which are smaller than the front ones. The two in the right are the front feet. The direction of travel is from right to left. The fox was moving fast and the hind feet landed ahead of the front ones in this particular gait.

 

   
Gray fox tracks. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007. A pair of gray fox tracks. Direction of travel is to the right. The hind track is on top of and overlapping the front print in this photo.
 

Gray fox trail in sand after a rain. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

A gray fox trail after a rain. The tracks are in a nearly straight line, which is characteristic of fox trails.

 

Gray fox track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

Gray fox tracks, showing detail of fur on the bottoms of the feet, claw marks and canine foot shape.

 

Gray fox track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

 

Gray fox tracks, showing detail of fur on the bottoms of the feet, claw marks and canine foot shape.

 

Gray fox sits for a scratch. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

A gray fox sat down in the sand for a quick scratch behind the ear. Notice the mark of its bushy tail to the left of the tracks. It departed to the lower right.
   

Pair of gray fox tracks, hind track on top of front one. Lots of fur on the bottom of the feet.

 

Grass that was eaten by a gray fox, then coughed up. Similar to domestic cats that eat grass to aid their digestion, wild foxes do the same.
 

Tracks of many animals. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The tracks of many animals, including a gray fox, raccoon, and opossum. Mud flats like this are great places to find those rare perfect tracks.
 

 Tracks of raccoon, killdeer, and gray fox. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Another example of the many tracks you can find on a river's edge. The gray fox traveled from right to left. The killdeer and spotted sandpiper meandered all over the place. The raccoon moved from the lower part of the photo toward the top.

 

Gray fox skull. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A gray fox skull from a private collection.

 
 

Canine vs. Feline tracks (Is it a cat or a dog?)


 

Personal Notes on Gray Foxes

I have encountered numerous foxes while out hiking around dusk. They will usually bark their hoarse bark in surprise, then scamper off a short distance. Once they feel safe, they turn around and continue to bark at you to let you know their displeasure. It’s always interesting to watch them move. They remind me of cats because they are so quiet and flexible.

 
Gray Fox Photo Gallery

Gray fox in the grass.

This fox was hunting along the edge of a mowed field.
Foxes, like many other animals,
will eat grass to aid their digestion.

Grass eaten to aid digestion.

Fox on roadside.

This fox was sitting on a roadside outside a dining hall.
The fox waited until the people had cleared out, then
came closer to search for scraps.
Same fox, sniffing for food.

Fox sniffing for food.

Fox sitting on road.

The fox patiently waited on the road, not bothered at all
by the presence of people.
This fox, encountered during the daytime, was
a little more shy about being around humans.

Fox running away.

 

Find gray fox posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store online store at: www.dirt-time.com  Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

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Copyright 1997, 2009, 2013. Text and photos by Kim A. Cabrera
Sly's fox pic was donated. Thank you!!

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Copyright 1997, 2009, 2013. Text, drawings, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

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