I’ve been on vacation recently, visiting Phoenix, Tucson, and Parker, Arizona. Perhaps the highlight was seeing my first fox in the wild. It was the Gray Fox of the Sonoran Desert, officially known as Urocyon cinereoargenteus. DesertMuseum.org (external link) says it is the only canine to climb trees although I did not see it doing so.
Instead, it was charging across the Pinal Pioneer Parkway as fast as it could go. This is a rural highway between Phoenix and Tucson. USA Today in 2011 said this stretch of road, Arizona Highway 79, boasted some of the highest speeds in the nation for any public thoroughfare. The top 5% of drivers on that road averaged 88 MPH. No wonder that fox was moving quickly.
“Gray foxes are the only canines able to climb trees (although a coyote sometimes manages to get part way up a tree with accommodating branches). They forage in trees, and can sometimes be seen sleeping up in cottonwoods or mesquites (safe from coyotes and other predators). Gray foxes breed in late winter; the pups are born in March or April. They often den in boulder piles, caves, and other natural cavities, or in mine shafts. Both parents feed the pups, but the father fox does not occupy the den with them. Instead he guards the den from a vantage point where he can watch for predators or other danger. The young foxes are able to hunt for themselves at around 4 months of age. Foxes often leave their scats in prominent places, such as on the tops of boulders, as territorial markers.” DesertMuseum.org