Four fox species live in North America, and half of them can be found in Ohio. The gray fox and the red fox are the only fox species that live in Ohio. Foxes are members of the Canidae family, which includes other species native to Ohio such as wolves, coyotes and dogs.
The gray fox is the only species of fox living in Ohio that is native to the area. The gray fox is recognizable by its salt-and-pepper colored gray fur and the black-colored stripe that runs from the base of its tail to the tip. The gray fox mates once per year and has the same mate for life. Its diet includes small mammals such as rabbits and mice, birds, insects, and occasional plant matter including fruits and acorns.
Although the red fox is commonly found in Ohio, it is actually a non-native species. The red fox was brought over by British settlers in the 1700s and the species has since encroached on the territory of gray foxes. Although many red foxes have a red or orange coloring to go with their namesake, the species can be found in a variety of colors. The red fox shares similar mating behaviors and diet with the gray fox.
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Differences Between the Species
The two fox species living in Ohio share many similarities, but are different in several ways. You can always tell the two species apart as the red fox tail has a white tip while the gray fox has a black stripe. The red fox is the bigger of the two species with longer legs for faster running speeds. The gray fox has shorter legs that it can use to climb trees and vertical surfaces, a feat that is impossible for the red fox.
Where to Find Foxes in Ohio
Finding a fox in Ohio is easy if you know where to look. Both species prefer wooded areas and open brush lands, though the fox may travel several miles from its den for food. Foxes are nocturnal creatures so your chances of spotting one are better at night. Neither species of foxes migrate for the winter and can be seen year-round. During mating season, your chances of spotting a fox are greater. The red fox has an early mating season that runs from January to February, while the gray fox mates later from February to March.