Wildwood Zoo

Meet the Foxes

fox_1  fox_2

Here at the zoo, our Grey and Arctic Fox share an exhibit! Shadow is a male Gray Fox who was born April 21, 2012 and came to us from Pennsylvania.   He arrived at Wildwood on May 16, 2012.  Blizzard is an Arctic Fox who joined Shadow in July 2012. Blizzard was born June 1, 2012 and came to us from Ohio.  Blizzard has beautiful white fur in the winter as camouflage for the snowy season, and silvery gray fur in the warmer summer months.  The fox exhibit was built with the help of the Wildwood Park Zoological Society and the Kiwanis Club.

Grey Fox
Description
Gray fox are a medium-sized fox with grayish upper parts, reddish brown legs, tawny sides, and whitish throat, cheeks and mid-line of belly; sides of muzzle and lower jaw with distinct blackish patch; tail with distinct blackish stripe on upper side and black tip (no white on end of tail as in the red fox); tail roughly triangular, not round.  They usually weigh anywhere from 6-11 pounds.  Gray fox are one of two canid species with retractable claws like a cat (the other being the Asian raccoon dog).  They are excellent tree climbers, which is probably why they aren’t spotted too often in the wild.  Foxes have over 200,000,000 scent receptors in their nose.  One of the most obvious reasons for a refined sense of smell is sniffing out food.  A male fox is called a dog, and a female is called a vixen.  Young can be called kits, pups, whelps, or cubs.  Foxes have scent glands near their tail, jaw, and between their toes.  Soft toe pads and hair between their toes muffles sounds.  They have whiskers on their paws.  There are five species of fox in North America:  Red, Gray, Arctic, Swift and Kit.

Range
Gray fox range throughout most of the southern half of North America, from southern Canada to the northern part of South America (Venezuela and Colombia).

Habitat
The gray fox is essentially an inhabitant of wooded areas, particularly mixed hardwood forests. They are common throughout wooded sections east of the shortgrass plains and in the pinyon-juniper community above the low lying deserts.

Breeding
Gray fox litters average 3-4 kits (2-7possible).  Kits are born in April or May.  At 4 weeks old, kits get regurgitated meat.  Gray fox begin hunting on their own at 4 months.  Pups stay with their parents until the fall. 

Life Expectancy
In the wild: 5-6 years
In human care: 12 years

Natural Diet
The gray fox is the most omnivorous of all canines.  Spring and winter food consists mainly of small mammals, insects, and birds.  In late summer and fall, persimmons and acorns make up a good portion of their diet.  They also eat many berries.

Arctic Fox
Description

Compared to the slender bodies and long legs of other foxes, Arctic foxes have a stocky body with short legs and torso. Arctic foxes also have a short muzzle and short, rounded ears. The Arctic fox has dense fur with an especially thick and fine undercoat that comprises 70% of its coat. They have extremely long and bushy tails that muffle the sounds made by their bodies crossing terrain.  Arctic foxes shed their coat twice a year. In springtime, they lose their long winter coats, and in autumn they start acquiring a new winter pelt. A camouflaging change in coloration accompanies these molts. Arctic foxes come in two distinct color "morphs" (also called "forms" or "phases"): the white/polar and the blue morphs. The familiar pure white winter pelt is the white morph commonly associated with Arctic foxes. After the spring molt, the white morph has a short summer pelt that appears gray to brown on the face, legs and upper body, while the under body fur is lighter colored.  Arctic foxes are medium-size foxes that weigh from 10-20 pounds.  Life in the Arctic is difficult, and the Arctic fox is wonderfully adapted to live in very cold climates. While many mammals hibernate during the winter, the Arctic fox does not. Its physical characteristics of superb insulation with fur and fat, combined with its stocky body shape enable the Arctic fox to conserve body heat. Therefore, it can continue to remain active throughout the frigid months. During winters, their densely furred paws prevent heat loss through their feet. They also have the ability to restrict blood flow to the legs, which helps maintain core body heat. Lastly, the Arctic fox has a tremendous tolerance for cold. Its metabolic rate only starts to increase at -58° Fahrenheit (-50° Celsius) and it only starts to shiver when temperatures reach -94° Fahrenheit (-70° Celsius).  Foxes have scent glands near their tail, jaw, and between their toes.  Soft toe pads and hair between their toes muffles sounds. 

 

As its name implies, the Arctic fox's range includes the circumpolar northern Arctic regions of North America, Scandinavia, Siberia, Greenland and Iceland.

 

Habitat
Arctic foxes inhabit treeless Arctic and alpine tundra. They live in both coastal and inland areas of the mainland and on islands. Arctic foxes travel extensively and possess large range sizes from 2,100-15,000 acres. Other than humans, the Arctic fox travels more extensively than any terrestrial animal.

 

Breeding
Mating occurs in mid-spring, and the young emerge in late spring or early summer after an average gestation period of 52 days. Litters range from three to twelve, with an average of seven. Short, dark, brown fur covers all newborn pups, and a single litter may contain both color morphs. By two months of age, the blue morph pups acquire their dark coloration, while the white morph pups develop the contrasting pattern of darker backs, heads and legs with lighter underbodies. Many pups do not reach adulthood, as there are high mortality rates among the young. The male guards the den and may lead intruders away from the den site. He also brings back food for both the mother and her pups. The pups begin eating meat at 1 month old and the mother weans them around one and half months after birth. By 3 months old, the pups begin to travel away from the den and participate in hunts. In autumn, the family unit gradually dissolves and these foxes spend the winters in solitary.

 

Life Expectancy
In the wild: 3-7 years
In human care: 6-10 years

 

Natural Diet
In the wild, Arctic foxes are opportunistic and omnivorous feeders. Small mammals make up their preferred summer diet. However, they also eat plants, bird eggs, insects and fish. Winter diets include small marine mammals, birds, small seals, invertebrates, and carrion. 


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