Yes, you read it correctly! A lot of people in our area have trouble identifying which species of fox they have found. Two fox species are native to our area, the gray fox (on the left) and the red fox (on the right).
The confusion is understandable since gray foxes have an abundance of reddish fur bordering their gray markings, and since red foxes exist in a full spectrum of colors, including many shades of gray!
Red foxes are usually red, but they also naturally occur in “silver” (dark gray), white, cream, or cross (a combination of red and silver markings). Captive-bred red foxes come in dozens more colors including exotic shades like chocolate, lilac, and sapphire. The blue-gray colored red fox on the right was a fur farm rescue with our friends at SaveAFox!
Since red foxes bred for fur and the pet trade are sometimes released into the wild and mate with native animals, it’s possible (though very rare) for a fox born in the wild to show some of the more unique colors previously seen only in captivity.
Grey foxes are much less variable than their red fox cousins, with color variations being especially rare for members of the gray fox species.
The easiest and most foolproof way of identifying the species of a local fox is to take a look at its tail. In nearly all cases, a gray fox will have a black-tipped tail, while a red fox will have a white-tipped tail.
Have you seen an oddly colored fox in the wild and been unsure of what you were looking at? We’d love to see your photos!