Two types of foxes dwell in the Buckeye State. It's not always easy to tell the difference between the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) simply by virtue of their coloring. That's because some "gray" foxes sport reddish coats. Both species are nocturnal and hunt for similar prey.
Red foxes range in color from beige to deep red. They have black legs, white cheeks and throat, a light-colored belly and a white tip on the tail. So-called "silver" foxes are actually red fox variants, not to be confused with gray foxes. These foxes range from silver, a mixture of black and white hairs, to predominately black. Silver-colored foxes make up between 10 and 25 percent of the red fox population. At maturity, red foxes weigh between 7 and 15 pounds, with males larger than females. .
Red Fox Habitat and Behavior
Red foxes aren't Ohio natives, but are found statewide. They arrived after Europeans began settling in the territory. While dwelling predominately in the countryside, they are no strangers to suburban or urban areas and their ample food supplies. Red foxes eat mice and other rodents, rabbits, birds, bugs and fruit. They are the bane of poultry keepers, but have also been known to kill piglets, lambs and kids. They'll eat carrion, or carcasses. If they have more food than they can eat, red foxes will bury it to consume at a later date.
Adult gray foxes aren't just their namesake color, but a mixture of red, white and black fur. At birth, they're dark brown. Their sides, back, majority of the tail and top of the head are gray at maturity, with the tail sporting a black stripe and tip. That tail constitutes about a third of their body length. The underside of the gray fox is generally reddish-brown, as are their legs and chest. Their muzzles and throats are white, but a black stripe runs from the mouth to the eye's inside corner. Full-grown gray foxes weigh between 7 and 13 pounds, with males larger than females.
Gray Fox Habitat and Behavior
Gray foxes are Ohio natives, preferring the wilder parts of the state. Ohio's development favored the red fox over the gray fox. However, they are still found in all of Ohio's 88 counties, although the largest population is in the southeastern part of the state, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife website. Gray foxes are most often found in forests and partially open lands, as far as possible from human habitation. They're competent tree climbers, adept at catching small birds.
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Red Fox
- Ohio Department of Natural Resources: Gray Fox
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Vulpes Vulpes Red Fox
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Urocyon Cinereoargenteus Gray Fox
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Vulpes Vulpes Red Fox
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: Urocyon Cinereoargenteus Gray Fox
- Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images