Early this morning, I was walking up to my office and saw an unusual thing -- a very furry animal rolling around vigorously and looking like a dog in the grass scratching his back. Initially, I thought that's one BIG squirrel, but it looked to be the size of a large cat, certainly not a squirrel. Nor are woodchucks so furry.
As I got closer, as the animal saw me, sat up, and looked at me, I recognized it as a fox. It watched me for a few moments before disappearing into the shrub border. One of my paleontologist colleagues saw it a bit later, and identified it as a gray fox - he wrote "saw a Urocyon cinereoargenteus (gray fox) in front of the museum around 9 this morning. Thought it was a big, lean cat at first, but we stared down each other for a minute and I got a good look at it. It tried to run into the museum but hit the glass door – didn’t seem to be phased and took off over to the head frame and hopped the 3ft. wall…"
I always wish I had my camera at such moments, but here's a nice photo from a Maryland DNR Habichat newsletter.
Gray foxes live mostly in deciduous woodland areas (such as our forested areas), and eat quite a varied diet -- small rodents, rabbits, and insects, in addition to a variety of fruits and seeds.