Shadow the Gray Fox
Shadow, a beautiful female gray fox, was brought to Cedar Run in the late spring of 2002. NJ Dept. of Fish and Wildlife representatives took her away from a person who was raising her as a pet because it is against the law to keep wildlife as pets.
Shadow was just in her first year of life and was quite small when she arrived. But, because she was habituated, or used to being fed by humans, Shadow could not be released back into the wild. She will always associate people with food and could approach people if hungry. This would not be safe for Shadow or for the people she encounters.
Shadow resides in our Wildlife Housing Area in a splendid two-part fox enclosure. She shares her section with Baron, a male gray fox, who came to Cedar Run in March of 2005. He is also a permanent resident for reasons similar to Shadow's. A doorway separates the two gray foxes from Digger, a male red fox. Digger was placed in the adjoining section in August of 2008. The complete two-part fox enclosure was donated by Linde Lisi.
When people approach this double enclosure, they will often notice a musky skunk-like odor. Most are surprised to discover that the odor is from the foxes who have marked their territory boundaries with this scent just as they would do in the wild.
Gray Fox Facts
- Found throughout the USA except in the northwest mountain regions and the Great Plains
- Prefers mature hardwood forests, woodlots, and brushy habitats.
- Grizzled gray coat, reddish on its sides, white throat with red below, usually black down middle of back, long bushy tail with a black tip
- Excellent tree climber using its strong hooked claws; only member of the dog family able to climb
- Climbs to escape from predators, forage for food, sun themselves, or sleep
- Excellent senses of hearing and smell
- Feeds on cottontail rabbits, mice, and other small mammals, birds, eggs, insects, plant material, and fruits (omnivore).
- Mostly nocturnal, but is sometimes crepuscular (hunting during dusk and dawn)
- Males slightly larger than females
- Weighs between 8 and 12 pounds
- Raises young in dens, which may be found in hollow logs or trees, in cavities under rocks, or in ground burrows dug by other animals
- Male helps care for young, but does not den with them
- Marks territory with a pungent musky scent (similar to that of a skunk)
- Life span: up to 10 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity
Links to more facts about gray foxes