5 strangely cat-like traits of gray foxes

January 14, 2019, 8:28 a.m.

Gray foxes seem in many ways like the unsung bridge between the cat and dog world. They're a canid species, related to foxes, coyotes and wolves. But they have some unusually cat-like features that help them get by in a tough, wild world.

1. They climb trees. They're the only canid species that can do so. They actually have semi-retractible curved claws and flexible wrists (which have actually been compared to arboreal primate wrists) to help them accomplish this feat. A huge tail much closer to cat length than dog length also helps with balance.

2. Similar to some members of the cat species like leopards, gray foxes will drag prey up into trees and feast from a height. If you see a skeleton of a fawn, rabbit or other prey species hanging from a tree, it might be the work of a gray fox.

3. They'll happily feast on birds. Gray foxes can sneak up on roosting birds — in trees! — to snag a meal. They'll also dine on the eggs and chicks found in nests they encounter while waltzing along in the tree canopy.

4. They're great ratters. Gray foxes are omnivores and will focus on a wide variety of prey. But one of their favorite food sources is rodents. Rats, gophers, mice and other critters are all fair game.

5. They don't like to be petted. True, this is the case for most wild animals, but it's a cat-like quality to be sure.

Curious about whether or not gray foxes frequent your backyard? Learn how to identify their tracks!

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