Wild Animals/coyote or grey fox


grey fox or coyote
grey fox or coyote  
Hello, I read your guidance to others concerning grey fox vs. coyote.  We live in rural Western North Carolina, Old Fort, in the mountains.  Our neighbor's motion cam snapped this picture and we have both researched our tails off and can't figure out if it is a grey fox or a coyote.  There is no perspective so it's hard to tell the size and there is no color in the shot.  Can you help identify the animal for us and tell us why?  I write a newsletter for our community and don't want to mis-identify it.  Many thanks, Marcella Murphy

Dear Marcella,

The black marking on the muzzle identifies this as a Grey Fox.  You can see others here for comparison:


Coyotes don't have the black "tear stains" on either side of the muzzle that Grey Foxes have:


Also, the muzzle is shorter and finer than a coyote's.

Hope that helps!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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