Foxes in Missouri: Types and Where They Live

Written by Megan Martin
Published: August 19, 2023
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Mother of the West, Missouri, is home to a wide variety of different wildlife. This includes foxes. Foxes in Missouri are widespread, inhabiting both rural and suburban areas alongside their habitats in the wilderness. Continue reading below to learn about the different types of foxes in Missouri, as well as where they live and where you can see them. 

Types of Foxes in Missouri

There are two main types of foxes in Missouri: the red fox and the gray fox. These are also two of the most common species of fox in the entirety of the United States. 

1. Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes)

The red fox is the largest of the true fox species. There are 12 living species of true foxes, although few share an overlapping habitat with the red fox. Missouri’s other fox species, the gray fox, is not actually a true fox species, which will be discussed in greater detail further below. 

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Red foxes are rarely found alone. Instead, they are seen most often as a pair or small family group. This family group can include a mated pair and their offspring or a male accompanying related females. Red foxes will mate for life, and if one of the pair is to die, they will undergo a mourning season before taking a new mate in the next breeding season. They can be found in the majority of the world.

This is a carnivorous species. As a result, they eat a variety of different prey, ranging from small rodents, rabbits, and squirrels to reptiles to young hooved animals (known as ungulates). Red foxes have a long history with humans. They are common animals to be harvested for the fur trade. Red foxes have also begun the process of domestication in some places. 

Although North America has been home to the red fox for thousands of years, some areas in Missouri are seeing an increase. As one local news reporter noted in 2021, the urban areas of Missouri are becoming more hospitable to foxes. This is due to increased areas suitable for them to hide and raise their offspring, as well as food in the form of small rodents. 

Close up of a red fox in a forest, UK.

The red fox can be best identified by its orange fur and white markings.


2. Gray Fox (Urocyon Cinereoargenteus)

The gray fox (also seen as “grey fox”) is not a true species of fox. This is because, rather than being in the genus of Vulpes, they are in the genus Urocyon. This is the most basal genus of the living canids species. To put this simply, this means that gray foxes, although related to red foxes, are older as a species than other animals in the family Canidae. The only other living species in this genus is the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) of the Channel Islands. 

Now that you know a little bit more about the gray fox and the taxonomical differences between it and the red fox, you can learn a bit more about the species itself. Unlike the red fox, the gray fox is native to North and Central America. Historically, the gray fox was regarded as the most abundant species in the eastern region of the United States. However, in many regions, their population has dwindled. As a result, while the gray fox is still present, the red fox has become the most prevalent species in many areas. This is true in almost every area of the United States except for states in the Pacific region and Great Lakes region.

The gray fox is a smaller species that occupies many of the same areas and hunts the same prey as larger carnivores, such as coyotes and bobcats. As a result, they have a tendency to stray into areas where these carnivores are less common, such as near paved roads, in order to escape competition. 

Gray Fox female with a kit.

The gray fox has less of a noticeable orange coloration, sporting more brown or gray in their fur than the red fox.

©Holly Kuchera/

Where Do Foxes Live in Missouri

Although both of these species of fox live throughout Missouri, they are found most abundantly in different areas.

The red fox is often found in areas north of the Missouri River. They tend to avoid heavily wooded areas or dense forests. Instead, you will likely find that red foxes prefer to live on forest edges. They also inhabit open areas such as meadows.

The gray fox, however, is more common in the southern region of Missouri, specifically the Ozarks. Like the red fox, they can live in wooded areas or open spaces.

As seen above with red foxes, both of the foxes in Missouri may inhabit areas close to humans. This allows them to take advantage of increased habitats as well as resources. This is becoming more common as deforestation reduces the natural habitat of these species. Human habitats can also be alluring during times of food scarcity, as small rodents are often found in these areas. 

playful red fox cubs ( Vulpes ); young animals near the den, playing while vixen is out to hunt

Both foxes in Missouri can be found in lightly wooded areas and open meadows.


Fox Viewing Areas

While you should try to avoid interacting directly with wildlife as much as possible, watching them from a distance can be interesting. Here are some of the top places to possibly see the different types of foxes in Missouri:

  • Mark Twain National Forest
  • Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area
  • Huckleberry Ridge State Forest
  • Lipton Conservation Area.

Both the red fox and gray fox are nocturnal species. As a result, while they can be spotted during the day, sightings may be rarer. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Danita Delimont/

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About the Author

Megan is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is birds, felines, and sharks. She has been researching and writing about animals for four years, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with minors in biology and professional and technical writing from Wingate University, which she earned in 2022. A resident of North Carolina, Megan is an avid birdwatcher that enjoys spending time with her cats and exploring local zoological parks with her husband.

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