Foxes are agile and cunning creatures and can adapt to different environments. One question people often ask when it comes to the adaptability of foxes is, “Can foxes climb trees?”
The answer is, “No, foxes do not climb trees.”
This is a very straightforward answer that, at first glance, will seem incorrect.
Keep reading and we will cover:
- The Ability of Grey Foxes to Climb Trees
- Why Grey Foxes Climb Trees
- The Inability of Red Foxes to Climb Trees
- Grey Foxes Are Not True Foxes
Grey Foxes Can Climb Trees
Grey foxes have grizzled, salt-and-pepper fur and distinctive black-tipped tails.
Grey foxes are excellent climbers and are commonly seen in trees.
Grey foxes have:
- Retractable claws which allow them to grasp onto branches.
- A flexible spine and long tail, which helps them balance as they move through the trees.
- Reversible ankles which rotate 180 degrees allowing them to grasp onto branches with their hind feet while descending a tree headfirst.
Why Grey Foxes Climb Trees
Grey foxes climb trees for three main reasons.
Access to Food
Grey foxes are ominvores and find a lot of different foods to eat in trees. Grey foxes will dine on berries, fruits, insects, and small mammals.
Climbing trees is also an important means of escape for grey foxes. These small foxes are hunted by coyotes and bobcats and will climb trees to make an escape.
Grey foxes use trees as lookout points. They will climb into the safety of the branches to grab a place to rest and keep an eye on their surroundings.
The ability to climb trees helps grey foxes survive and thrive in their natural habitat.
Grey Foxes are Not True Foxes
The catch to this whole discussion is the fact that Grey Foxes are not actually foxes!
True foxes belong to the genus Vulpes and have long, narrow snouts and large, pointed ears. Examples of true foxes include the red fox, the Arctic fox, and the fennec fox.
The grey fox belongs to the genus Urocyon and is more closely related to the raccoon than to other foxes
Red Foxes Cannot Climb Trees
Red foxes, which are True Foxes, are not skilled climbers.
In fact, red foxes are much more likely to use burrows or dens in the ground as their homes, rather than trees.
So why can’t red foxes climb trees?
- They have shorter legs and a less flexible spine than grey foxes.
- They have non-retractable claws, which are not suited for grasping onto bark.
- They are specialized for ground-dwelling, with adaptations such thick fur and wide paws for walking on snow.
Conclusion and Further Reading
Grey foxes are great climbers, thanks to:
- Retractable claws
- Fexible spine
- Reversible ankles
The ability to climb trees allows grey foxes access to an increased supply of food as well as shelter.
Despite their excellent climbing abilities, Grey Foxes are not True Foxes. True foxes such as Red Foxes do not have the ability to climb trees.
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