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Comparative Feeding Habits of Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Maryland

J. Gregory Hockman and Joseph A. Chapman
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 110, No. 2 (Oct., 1983), pp. 276-285
DOI: 10.2307/2425269
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2425269
Page Count: 10
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Comparative Feeding Habits of Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and Gray Foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) in Maryland
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Abstract

Contents of 128 red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and 63 gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) stomachs were analyzed. Specimens were collected from the Appalachian and Piedmont provinces of Maryland during autumn and winter of 1977-1978 and 1978-1979 Both species were opportunistic feeders. However, mammals, primarily meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) and eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus), were the most important foods of red foxes by percentage weight and frequency of occurrence. In contrast, plants were the major source of food for gray foxes. Persimmon fruits (Diospyros virginiana) occurred most often in the gray fox diet, with corn (Zea mays) accounting for the greatest percentage weight. Red foxes consumed significantly greater (p ≤ 0.05) quantities of plants during the autumn. Gray foxes fed on significantly more (p ≤ 0.05) insects during the autumn. We conclude that red foxes are primarily predators of small mammals and that gray foxes are truly omnivorous with a preference for plant material. Since most of the sympatric habitats now occupied by these two species have been altered, we hypothesize that the gray fox would have an ecological advantage over the red fox.

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