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Foxes and Coyotes

Red Fox

(Vulpes vulpes)

The Red Fox is one of many native mammals that rely heavily on forest preserves for habitat and hunting areas. As more and more wildlife habitat is destroyed by development, foxes are driven into forest preserves and residential neighborhoods. Born in late spring, fox kits first leave the den by their fourth or fifth week. They hunt with their parents until they are old enough to hunt on their own, and remain with their parents until late summer or early fall. The Red Fox is a quick, skilled hunter, feeding on a variety of foods. Mice and rabbits are common prey, especially during the winter months. The male and female Red Foxes are mates for life, and will usually breed in the winter months. The average litter is 4-5 pups and is cared for by both parents.

Gray Fox

(Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Gray Foxes are less common than red foxes in Illinois. Forest preserves provide the wooded habitat gray foxes require. The Gray Fox is the only member of the dog family that can climb trees, and does so to escape danger and when pursuing prey.


(Canis latrans)

Coyotes are yellowish gray with bushy black-tipped tails and whitish throats and bellies. They are smaller than wolves — 20 to 40 pounds versus 80 to 100 — with narrower snouts and more prominent ears. They run with their tails hanging down below their backs; dogs and foxes usually run with their tails sticking straight out.

Over 90 percent of a coyote’s diet is small mammals, but it will eat birds, snakes, insects, fish, fruits and vegetables and will feed on what is most available, such as squirrels, voles, mice, rabbits and injured or sick deer.

Coyotes are extremely adaptable and opportunistic, skills that enable them to survive in different habitats, including suburban neighborhoods. They travel along trails, ridges and waterways, defecating or urinating to mark their territories along the way. They are considered nocturnal, but it is normal for them to be active during the day.