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Gray Fox Species Profile, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Abstract

The following includes a profile on the Gray Fox, a member of the canine family. In addition to areas the mammal is indigenous to, as well as other general information about the species, this profile also provides information about the origin of the species, its biological cousins, as well as adaptations the species has made over its time on Earth. Other topics touched upon include diet, breeding habits, as well as social tendencies.

Gray Fox Species Profile

The gray fox is a member of the Canidae Family, sharing common ancestors with dogs and wolves. They live in a vast territory that spans from Central and South America all the way up to Canada, spanning two continents minus the overtly mountainous regions. In this case, the gray wolf and I coexist in California. They are rather small, only getting as large as about 15 pounds and around three and a half, to four feet in length. The gray fox generally lives between six and eight years. They generally display a mix between white, black, and gray fur, always with a gray underside (ADW, 2013).

The gray fox is generally found in wooded areas with ample cover for them to utilize their stealth. Any place with sufficient underbrush, or rocky crevices, is perfect for the gray fox. They generally use dens that are very unobtrusive, and blend in with, or are a part of the natural environment. They are known to use hollowed out trees or areas beneath manmade structures for their dens as well (Gray Fox, 2013).

Its scientific name is Urocyon cinereoargenteus, and its diet is made up of various different things–characterizing it as an omnivore by nature. Small mammals such as mice, rats, and especially rabbits make up a large part of the gray fox’s meat consumption. It will also chase down squirrels, as well as the occasional bird. The gray fox also eats corn and nuts, as well as berries and various different fruits for its complete diet (Natureworks, 2013).

The life cycle of the gray fox is not unlike other similar species in the canine family. With a mating season that lasts between January and April or May, the slightly smaller female gray fox can give birth to anywhere from one to seven or eight live young at a time. The male does not abandon his mate, and continues to provide for his mate and children. The pups are well taken care of until they can go out on their own by both parents. It is also interesting to note that the gray fox is almost a universally monogamous species–mates usually stick together each mating season (Natureworks, 2013).

There is one bodily system the gray fox has actually evolved to give it an edge when hunting unique to the gray fox–they have developed stronger and noticeably turned back paws, enabling them to climb trees. Again preferring any wooded area below 3000 m, the gray fox has been known to have dens as high as 30 feet above the ground. This is a trait the gray fox specifically has evolved over time. The ability to climb gives it a large advantage over its major predators–especially coyotes (ADW, 2013). This reason alone has eradicated red foxes from areas that gray foxes thrive in.

Interestingly enough, modern data points to the fact that the gray fox is actually the common ancestor for the entire Canidae Family. If this is true, than perhaps the ability to climb was not an acquired trait, but instead one left over (Ostrander, 2012).

References

“Animal Diversity Web.” ADW: Urocyon Cinereoargenteus: INFORMATION. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2013.  <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Urocyon_cinereoargenteus/>.

“Gray Fox.” – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2013. <http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/63058.html>.

“Gray Fox – Urocyon Cinereoargenteus.” Gray Fox. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2013. <http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/grayfox.htm>.

Ostrander, Elaine. “Genetics and the Shape of Dogs.” American Scientist, n.d. Web.  <http://www.luadalmatians.com/Ostrander_Article.pdf>

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