Is This A Fox In My Yard?

The other night I was woken up about 3:00 am by one of the cats doing that weird groaning meow thing and banging on the back patio door. She just kept doing it, so I finally got up to see what she was banging on about. Lo and behold, I saw a strange “dog” looking in through the patio door at her. (To be clear, the cat was inside, the “dog” was outside. I don’t let my cats outside.) It being 3:00 am and all, I just told her to leave the little dog alone and I went back to bed. The next morning, I woke up and realized that the dog’s head shape was long and narrow, not like any dog I’d ever seen before. So I thought, “Was that a dog or was that a fox?”

I live smack dab in the middle of Montgomery, Alabama. For those of you who know Montgomery, I’m talking INSIDE the bypass. Now, Montgomery has been known for a long time for having red foxes living over off of Perry Hill Road near the interstate, but with all the recent development first at Interstate Park and then later at County Downs, those foxes have kind of gone away. I’m near, but not up against the interstate. And these seem to be grey foxes, not red There’s an old abandoned rail line through my neighborhood. So I assume they’re living there.

Anyway, I stayed up late the next night and had my handy flip camera with me. About 10:00 pm I caught a short video of one who walked by the back patio door, drank some water out the saucer of one of my big flower pots, then laid down and hung out for a little while on the patio. He eventually went off. A few hours later there were two of them, one a bit smaller than the other. The smaller one literally dashed across my back yard in about 1.5 seconds. I was never able to get any video of those two, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them. Those creatures are FAST!

I was able to pick out four semi-decent photos from the video of the first one and posted them over on photobucket. I’m sorry for the quality. First, I’m not Stephen Spielberg nor any relation to him, so yes the pictures kind of suck. Second, the video was taken late at night with only the patio light on. Three, the video was taken through a glass security door and while trying to hop over at least one very interested and somewhat offended cat. So again I’m sorry for the quality.

But can you tell me - are these, as I suspect, pictures of a grey fox? Thanks so much!

Yes, that’s a fox.

My folks live just outside Washington, DC, and they’ve had foxes in their backyard, so I’m not too surprised that you have them in the Montgomery area.

With the clear understanding that what I don’t know about canids would fill several libraries . . . the size of the ears and legs would tend to make me think coyote rather than fox.

But no doubt someone who knows what they’re talking about will be by shortly to give that speculation the mocking it richly deserves.

Beowulff, you’re fast as a fox! Seven minutes! Wow! I love this place!

I imagine my friends are going to be surprised to learn this. They never believe me about the big hawks that live in the area and occasionally bang into the big glass windows on the back of the house (the hawks, not the friends).

If someone could tell me what to do in order to hook up some kind of webcam thing, I’d like to get better video of them, especially of the two. I think it might be a momma and adolescent. They’re adorable!

Otto, I know even less than you do about foxes and coyotes and wolves (oh my!), but I think you make a very good point. I know the county just northwest of here has coyotes. I just thought coyotes were bigger. The blue flowerpot in the pictures is only about 18 inches high. Two feet tops. I can measure it tomorrow. So my guess is the critter stands only about a foot to 1 1/2 feet tall. Wouldn’t coyotes be bigger than that? And wouldn’t they howl? I’ve never heard any howling at all. Good thought, though. Something to consider.

We get a ton of coyotes out here - I’m reasonably sure that’s not a coyote.

Foxes are small, they’re like the size of a cat. Maybe there are bigger ones. The one’s I have seen are about cat size and look like about 10 pounds.

The white lower jaw line and the tail being held low indicate a coyote. Note that the foxes in the pictures below have shorter, more rounded ears.

From Outdoor Alabama here is a good picture of a Coyote:

Grey fox

Red Fox

That looks like Wile Coyote to me. Particularly the last picture. Small but a coyote to me.
first time I saw a fox in the wild, my reaction was: Look, a cat. HOLY SHIT look at the tail on that cat. Wait, that isn’t a cat, it is a fox. :slight_smile:

ETA: Do you have roadrunners in your neighborhood?

Tough to say. We need clearer photos. Could be a coyote (although juvenile coyotes usually don’t have adult facial patterning, and that one does) or a gray fox (but I can’t really see the thin black mask usually associated with the gray fox).

I think my pictures being kind of crappy makes things unclear. If someone can tell me how to set up a webcam (or two) then I’d be willing to try to get better pictures. I just don’t know how to do it.

Marxxx, the ones I’ve seen are small like a cat. Ten pounds sounds about right.

Ghardester, when I look at the picture of the fox you posted, the one thing that I notice is that it has the “wide cheek fur” like a cat. The faces of the critters I’m seeing don’t have that cat-like face. More like a dog. Of course, when I’ve seen them anywhere-near-up-close it’s been like 3 or 4 in the morning when I should be sleeping, so I could easily be wrong.

Haha, Rick! We have a couple of RoadRunner gas stations and a Roadrunner delivery service in Montgomery. We also have a couple of ACME companies. Should I keep an eye out for explodey things? :smiley:

To clarify a little on the critters’ colors, they’re mostly beige, with some grey on their backs and in their tail and legs/feet. And stripes on their faces.

Ogre, I agree that better pictures are needed. I can’t stay up til 3 am every night, but a few times the last couple of nights I’ve seen one out in the yard around 10 pm. I’ll try to look for a mask the next time I see one of them, even if I can’t get a good picture of it.

Oh, and I grew up in Montgomery! My family are still pretty much all located there. I’m at a safe distance. :slight_smile:

Foxes have fluffy tails, narrow snouts, and shorter bodies. It looks like a young coyote to me but the pictures can be misleading.

I assure you I was no where near that place.

Obviously, it’s a family of Chupacabras. They’re everywhere these days.

A fox. We feed them in our yard. Not a coyote, a fox.

Yeah, I’ve seen coyotes in person and that doesn’t look like a coyote to me. Its body is too fluffy. The coyotes I’ve seen have really short, scruffy fur that makes their torsos look lean. Take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, considering I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I’ve had red foxes (bigger than cats) and coyotes around my house, and that looks like a fox to me. The pics are blurry and I can see the potential for confusion, but I’m reasonably sure it’s a fox. Check Gus’ photos and those at the Wiki link.

Gray foxes have white lower jaws too.

I’m surprised by how alike some of the coyote and gray fox photos look. Some coyote pics I Googled have big fluffy tails, for example.

IMHO, the most visible differentiation that seems consistent is that coyotes have longer legs. They seem to be rangier overall. Based on that, I’d diagnose your blurry photos as foxes – they just don’t have that gangly look.