Lavender Crest is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit - ID #81-5159323

Our Elusive Grey Matilda

March 14, 2015


Hi - this is Matilda reporting. (Jimmer just finished breakfast and went outside.) We finally caught our elusive fox in a daytime picture. Over the course of the last two years, we have seen our resident fox from a distance, seen all kinds of tracks and have even caught her on our night camera. But this is the first time we have caught her on film during the daytime.

As you can see, she is a grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargentues Schreber). According to the DEC site: "The gray fox is easily distinguishable from the red fox in that they have a mane of short, stiff black hairs along the back leading to a black-tipped tail. Coloration of their upper-parts appears grizzled as a result of multi-colored guard hairs. The remainder of their fur is usually a variation of reds and browns with buff or gray underfur. Their face is distinctly marked with white, black, and red coloration. Total length, including the tail ranges from 31-44 inches and weight ranges from 7-13 pounds, with little difference between males and females."

Not only does her color give away the fact that she is a grey fox but her claws on the front paws have a greater curvature. This gives her a greater ability to rotate her legs more than that of the red fox. It actually gives her the ability to climb trees. Grey foxes typically live along hedgerows (like ours) along farm fields, where as red foxes live more out in the open.

The diet of the grey fox depends on the season and what is abundant - it ranges from small to medium-sized mammals, birds and their eggs, large seeds, fruits, insects, reptiles and amphibians. They will catch rabbits, mice, and voles as well. The gray fox, which forages on the ground and in trees, consumes a greater amount of fruit and birds than the red fox. Over the years we have seen signs of the various things she has found to eat. The area on our farm that she lives in is full of rabbits, voles and mice and borders our neighbor’s vineyard.

The gray fox is active throughout the year, and leaves its den at twilight or night to forage, but may hunt during the day. That is why she has been elusive for us to catch her on film. The usual manner of travel is by walking or trotting, but when necessary, a grey fox gallops or runs, attaining a top speed of 20-28 mph. So she is faster than me, but I bet Jimmer can still outrun her! She can climb trees, but we have never seen her in any.

Last spring we saw her and her kits at a distance. They were out playing in the sun on one of our hills. They were all cute and Jimmer wanted to go and play, but dad made sure we stayed away so that we would not scare them. So we sat on the next hill over and watched them romp around in the sun and then they disappeared back into the hedge. Of course dad forgot his camera - so no pictures.......

Well, I have to run. Jimmer is already outside and he is barking at something.....see you later. Matilda

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.