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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Red Fox Color Variation

Back to Alaska for this post, folks.

Before going to Denali National Park & Preserve, I was told to be on the watch for red fox in the park. In Alaska, and typically the farther north in North America you go, the red foxes come in a variety of color variations.

While I was up there, I asked several people, specifically 2 furriers at a festival, if there were gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Alaska. The answers were always "Oh yeah, we've got tons of colors. Gray, black, silver, cross, red...". No one seemed to know that I was talking about a different species. And so, I waited and hoped to see a funky looking fox.

Denali National Park & Preserve of course delivered, and brought us a beautiful, although a little scruffy, red fox.

7/23/12

7/23/2012

7/23/12

7/23/12
 
How gorgeous is this animal? I emailed several professionals around Alaska. Fur-bearer biologists, trapping association president's, state and federal biologists, and the answers I got back were unconclusive on this red foxes color. They all seemed to agree that it was molting. Late July in DNPP is similar to late August in New York, weather-wise at least. So this guy or gal was getting its coat ready for winter.
 
And, while I was taking pictures of the fox, it was demonstrating that typical pouncy-jumpy style of hunting. No, those are not the professional terms of description of that behavior :)
 
 
Photo credit: Jasper Doest (NWF Photo of the Week)
This is what our observed fox was doing...so cool! Of course I couldn't get picture(s) of it doing this, because I was on the wrong side of the bus, and I was trying to watch as well as get the pictures.
 
 
 
Finally, I KNOW that the fox I saw is a red fox (Vulpes vulpes) because of that tell tale white tip on its tail. The other species of fox in Alaska is not the gray, but the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), which can be seen in several colors as well. But that tip of the red foxes tail can be just a few white hairs, to the whole end of the tail being white. BUT as long as there's white, it is a "red fox". Sometimes our plants and animals are inaccurately commonly named. The first person to ever see the red fox, saw a RED red fox. But they come in many colors.
 
Ever seen a black squirrel? That's the same thing as those fat, annoying gray squirrels that hang on your bird feeders. Sometimes animals come in different colors, different than their name!
 
Anyway, this was a really cool sighting, even thought the same species is common in New York, and I've seen it off. Cool color and behavior!
 
 

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