Exploring Nature: Foxes

Foxes are not native to Central Texas, local ones are all descended from 40 foxes released near Waco between 1890 and 1895. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY HALL

I recently saw a gray fox standing in the pedestal birdbath in my back yard, lapping away at the cool water. With its long snout and bushy tail, it was quite a sight, but when I opened the door to get a better look, it casually hopped down and trotted away.

We have both red and gray foxes in this area and none are native since they are all descended from 40 foxes released near Waco between 1890 and 1895.  The idea was to have foxes to hunt with hounds. Other releases were made over the years and both species are now found statewide, with the highest concentration in north central Texas.

Although a member of the dog family, the fox has some behavior that is cat-like. Young foxes will hiss and spit much like kittens, and adults can make short mewing cries and high-pitched screams.

Foxes are fast animals and can run at 45 miles per hour and scamper all night if pursued by hounds. They are also acrobatic and can jump 15 feet from a standing start.

A hungry fox prefers small mammals, berries and birds, but will also gobble down insects, including grasshoppers.  

Pups are born in March and April and litters range from four to 15, but usually five or six. Like kittens, fox pups are born with their eyes closed, to be opened in about nine days. They remain in the den for at least a month.

A gray fox can climb trees, so it’s no surprise one wound up standing in my birdbath. Maybe some little pups will show up around here soon.

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666