Randy Weinstein took this photo at his house in Stallion Springs of an adult Gray Fox and its kit. Gray Foxes are attentive and tolerant parents.
Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are common throughout the Tehachapi Mountains, especially in the oak woodlands, chaparral edges and mixed conifer/oak forests.
These little foxes often act half-tame, and will readily come up on decks and take a nap on the patio furniture or help themselves to some dry food left outside for the cats. Gray Foxes are omnivores, and while they are predators that hunt rabbits, mice, voles, gophers, etc., they also like fruit and especially in drier areas may be more herbivorous and insectivorous.
Gray Foxes are considered to be the oldest type of canid alive today, and they preceded red foxes, coyotes and wolves. There are several different species of Island Fox found on California's Channel Islands. Believed to be descended from mainland Gray Foxes, these are even smaller with shorter legs. They were tamed as pets and carried between the different larger Channel Islands by Chumash Indian people in their tomols, or canoes.
The fox kit in this photo clearly shows the black stripe that extends down the tail and ends with the tip of the tail being entirely black. Many people see the reddish fawn color on a Gray Fox's legs and behind the ears and believe that they have seen a red fox, but red foxes have white tips on their tail.
The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for fox is wazi, pronounced WAH-zeh.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.