Don’t be outfoxed by these two look-alikes! A wild double take shows differences in size, coloration, and habitat.
Similarities: Both swift and gray foxes are relatively small in size, and both are primarily active at night. In addition to raising their young in dens, both fox species favor small rodents and insects in their diet, switching staples with seasonal availability. Unlike Oklahoma’s other fox, the red fox, both swift and gray foxes have a black-tipped tail.
Differences: The primary differences of these two look-alikes are size, coloration and habitat. The swift fox is Oklahoma’s smallest fox, averaging about 31 inches in length. These house cat-sized foxes are frosty tan in color and prefer open prairies. In Oklahoma, swift foxes are primarily found in the Panhandle’s high plains. Gray foxes are slightly larger than swift foxes, averaging 35-42 inches in length. Though gray foxes often have some rusty coloration, their bodies are primarily salt and peppered. These larger, more grizzled foxes are typically found in wooded habitats, where they have been known to climb trees.
If you see a fox in your backyard, local park, or the larger Outdoor Oklahoma, consider sharing the sighting on the free nature platform iNaturalist. Adding a photo to your observation can allow others in the iNaturalist community to help confirm the identification.