Out of the corner of your eye, early in the mornings, have you ever thought you saw a medium sized dog leap into a tree from flat on its feet? Did you pinch your arm when you saw it? Did you blink quickly several times to make sure your eyes weren’t playing tricks on you? Your eyes were not deceiving you, in Southeast New Mexico members of the canine CAN jump! That outstanding leap is the signature move of the gray fox that makes its home in the Chihuahuan Desert. This type of fox is known to climb trees in search of food, to curl up for a snooze, or to escape danger.
In addition to the fun fact that the fox has hops, Spring River Zoo writes on its website that, “if a gray fox has more food than it is able to eat, it will cache the remaining food and come back to eat it later. It will mark the spot where the food is buried by peeing on it.” Truly, this desert dweller is well adapted to the harsh conditions of the region. Gray foxes are known to eat small mammals, eggs, fruit, birds, insects, nuts, and berries.
How do you tell the difference between a gray fox, a coyote, and a regular red fox? Look for a thin black stripe running along the animal’s bushy tail. The stripe will delineate the gray fox from a coyote or a red fox. If you’d like to get a closer view of a gray fox, be sure to purchase tickets to the Spring River Zoo to meet the three resident foxes: Sammi, Roxy, and Fire.