Gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus is common throughout USA and also in Tikal National Park, El Peten, Guatemala

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Easy to see the gray fox at Tikal National Park

There are more YouTube videos on foxes of the Parque Nacional Tikal than for foxes in any other area of Guatemala. The most impressive one is a Part II and Part III of a boa constrictor who captures a fox, and another fox comes to the aid of the dying fox. I did not find Part I of the snake and foxes, but Part II and III were enough to bring tears to my eyes.

When you visit Tikal you can expect about a 50% chance of seeing grey foxes running freely across the Great Plaza or base of the North Acropolis. It helps if you stay several days to be sure you see them.

Urocyon cinereoargenteus grey fox Aurora zoo image 9810

The Gray fox, Urocyon inereoargenteus, usually its a very nervous animal while being in the wild.


But in fact grey foxes are much more common in Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo

Ironically at Yaxha we also witnessed a giant boa constrictor snake dragging an entire adult fox into the snakes underground den. Other foxes were attempting to bite and attack the snake to get him to release their comrade, but no fox tooth, fang, or claw can phase a giant boa.

Most of the furry foxes at Yaxha are hiking through the plazas. And if you stay overnight at the pleasant hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero (at entrance fo the Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo) you will see foxes in the morning and early evening.

If you have dinner in the Ecolodge El Sombrero dining room you may have one or two foxes hiking through the room (one likes to climb the stairs and sleep on the second floor). They are not asking for food; they just feel at home in the greater Yaxha area. Great place to take photos to impress your family and friends back home.

Name of Urocyon cinereoargenteus Fox in local languages

Several common names are used in Peten and nearby areas of Mesoamerica: gato (de) montes, zorra, or zorrillo. However obviously a fox is not a feline (so is not a “cat” (gato).

If you spend lots of time in the Main Plaza of Tikal sooner or later you will see a gray fox wander through the plaza, or even go up on the acropolis. This fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus, can climb trees if it wishes to. In La Aurora Zoo most of the foxes in the pen were (literally) hanging out up in the limbs of a small tree.

If you visit Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum (Peten, Guatemala) you can see foxes in many parts of the Yaxha areas, especially around the hotel Ecolodge El Sombrero. This is one of my favorite places to stay in El Peten;, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone, from outside Guatemala +502 5460-2934, from within Guatemala: 5460-2934.

Books and Articles that include helpful information on foxes of Mesoamerica

This bibliography was started by Melany Soria, then updated by Stephanie Serrano and then by Linda Bac; final edition is by Marcella Sarti (all are students who work at FLAAR Mesoamerica over the years, Guatemala City, Central America). Editing is by Nicholas Hellmuth.

The bibliography is primarily on the zoology of the grey fox. We will work to expand this in the future to cover the gray fox in the diet or use of fur of the Maya. But foxes do star in the world of Maya mythology. However I have not yet found a thesis or PhD dissertation on “Urocyon cinereoargenteus” in Mayan culture. We will also be on the lookout for mention of zooarchaeologists finding fox bones in Mayan middens at archaeological sites in Peten, Belize, Chiapas, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, or Tabasco (Mexico).

  • ÁLVAREZ Del Toro, Miguel
  • 1917
  • Chiapas y su biodiversidad. Tuxtlla Gutiérrez: Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas. 152 pages.
  • ÁLVAREZ Del Toro, Miguel
  • 1952
  • Los Animales Silvestres de Chiapas. Ediciones del Gobierno del Estado, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México. 251 pages.

    This book suffers from typical nearly unusable photos of good scholars and cheap paper and cheap printing of most books in Mexico and Central America during the 1950’s through 1970’s. Several decades later Alvarez del Toro updated this book and divided it into different volumes, which are so much better (in coverage and quality) there is almost no comparison.
  • ÁLVAREZ Del Toro, Miguel
  • 1991
  • Los mamíferos de Chiapas. Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas, Consejo Estatal de Fomento a la Investigación y Difusión de la Cultura, DIF-Chiapas, Instituto Chiapaneco de Cultura, 133 pages.

    Alvarez del Toro focused on mammals of Chiapas, spiders of Chiapas, butterflies of Chiapas, and reptiles of Chiapas. Would be wonderful to have books of this nature on each kind of creature in Peten (probably over 80% of the creatures at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo are elsewhere in Peten; and probably 97% of the creatures at Tikal are also at Yaxha (since the parks are next to each other). But Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo has two large lakes and the seasonal Rio Holmul (which is adjacent to Nakum and then Naranjo). So I estimate there are eco-systems in this park not at Tikal.

    El Mirador is far to the northern border of Peten (with Campeche area of Mexico). This eco-system is more dry than central Peten.
  • ARANDA, Marcelo
  • 2012
  • Manual para el rastreo de mamíferos silvestres de México. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Conabio). 260 pages.

    Available online:
  • BENSON, Elizabeth
  • 1977
  • Birds and Beasts of Ancient Latin America. 162 pages.

    Available online:

    This is only a brief general introduction, not a full-scale coverage whatsoever. Elizabeth Benson is a well known and respected scholar but this book is not at close to the depth that a graduate student or scholar would need. What little it offers is more for South America and less for Mesoamerica, and more for a general reader who is a tad curious.
  • CENDRERO, Luis
  • 1972
  • Zoología hispanoamericana, Vertebrados. Editorial Porrúa, S.A. México, D.F. 1160 pages.

    Sold online:

    If you wish to have a complete library, you may want this, but otherwise, has no line drawings and photographs are of the variable original quality and low-tech printing quality which was the norm in Mexico and Central American publications for too long. Has only a handful of color (weak, as typical in those years).
  • CORONA, Eduardo
  • 2014
  • Etnobiología, hacia una zooarqueología de los neotrópicos. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Vol. 12, No. 2. 103 pages.
  • ESCOBAR, Barbara
  • 2013
  • Riqueza de mamíferos medianos y mayores en cafetales y bosques de tres reservas naturales privadas (san jerónimo miramar-quixayá, pampojilá- peña flor y santo tomás pachuj) de la reserva de usos múltiples de la cuenca del lago de Atitlán. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Pages 22-24.

    Available online:
  • GOTZ, Christopher
  • 2014
  • ¿Solamente Contextos Culturales? Evaluación del papel de la Tafonomia en la Zoo arqueología Maya de las Tierras Bajas del Norte de la Península de Yucatán, México. Revista de Etnobiologia, Volumen 12, No. 2. Pages 20-38.

    Available online:
  • GALLINA, Sonia, LÓPEZ, Paloma, VALDESPINO, Carolina and Verónica FARÍAS
  • 2016
  • Abundancia relativa de la zorra gris Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Carnívora: Canidae) en la zona centro de Veracruz, México. Revista de Biología Tropical. Vol. 64, No. 1. Pages 221-233.

    Available online:
  • GOTZ, Christopher
  • 2014
  • ¿Solamente Contextos Culturales? Evaluación del papel de la Tafonomia en la Zoo arqueología Maya de las Tierras Bajas del Norte de la Península de Yucatán, México. Revista de Etnobiologia, Vol.12, No. 2.
  • HALL, E. Raymond and Keith R. KELSON
  • 1959
  • The Mammals of North America. 2 vols. The Ronald Press Company, New York.

    Vol. II goes from about page 547 to 1083, with an additional 79 pages of index. My research library of flora and fauna is missing Volume I.
  • HELLMUTH, Nicholas
  • 2013
  • Maya Ethnozoology Complete Inventory: Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles, Seashells, Fish & Amphibians that appear in Classic Maya Art: Murals, Pottery, Effigies, Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras. FLAAR.
  • HERNÁNDEZ, Norma, PINEDA, Raúl, GUERRERO, María, CANTÓ, Germinal,
    Salvador and Brenda CAMACHO
  • 2016
  • Gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) parasite diversity in central Mexico. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. Vol. 5. Pages 207-210.

    Available online:
  • JOSSERAND, Kathryn
  • 2003
  • Story Cycles in Chol (Mayan) Mythology: Contextualizing Classic Iconography. With Nicholas A. Hopkins, Ausencio Cruz Guzmán, Ashley Kistler, and Kayla Price. 53 pages.

    Available online:
  • JUAREZ, Diego, ESTRADA, Christian, BUSTAMANTE, Michelle, QUINTANA, Yasmin, MOREIRA, Jose y Jorge, LOPEZ
  • 2007
  • Guía Ilustrada de Pelos para la Identificación de Mamíferos Medianos y Mayores de Guatemala. Dirección General de Investigación (DIGI), Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. 29 pages.

    Available online:
  • LARA, Estuardo, CASO, Laura and Mario ALIPHAT
  • 2012
  • El sistema milpa roza, tumba y quema de los Maya Itzá de San Andrés y San José, Petén Guatemala. Ra Ximhai. Vol. 8, No. 2. Pages 71-92.

    Available online:
  • LEOPOLD, Starker
  • 1972
  • Wildlife of Mexico: The Game Birds and Mammals. University of California Press. 568 pages.

    Sold online:

    Hardly any photographs, and those few which are present are mediocre quality. But the line drawings are excellent and reproduced at a healthy size. The same book is available in Spanish, 1977.
  • THORNTON, Erin
  • 2011
  • Animal resources in ancient maya economy and exchange: zooarchaeological and isotopic perspectives. University of Florida. Florida. 244 pages.

    Available online:
  • VILLALOBOS, Alejandra, BUENROSTRO, Alejandra and Guillermo SÁNCHEZ
  • 2014
  • Dieta de la zorra gris Urocyon cinereoargenteus y su contribución a la dispersión de semillas en la costa de Oaxaca, México. THERYA. Vol. 5, No. 1. Pages 355-363.

    Available online:

Web sites with information on Urocyon cinereorgenteus
Information and photos.
Status conservation.

Hard to tell which web site is borrowing from which other, but at least this page has abundant information and several photos.
Jim Conrad was a lecturer on plants and animals over 25 years ago during FLAAR lecture-tours to the Maya area. He has had his own Naturalist Newsletter for several years.
Lots of information; good bibliography (but the one of is multiple times longer). But the inaturalist site has many photographs.
Map of distribution range
Synthesized information.
By Erik Fritzell and Kurt J. Haroldson, 1982. Has exhaustive bibliography (albeit only up to 1982).
Discusses each aspect of life, but no photographs.

Links to additional FLAAR webpages on the Grey fox of the Mayan rain forests

Showing contented gray fox face-to-face with Nicholas inside their cage at La Aurora Zoo, Guatemala City.

Showing more foxes “hanging out” on branches at La Aurora Zoo, plus introduction to foxes in Mayan cultural stories (Mayan folklore).


Updated May 2019
Previously Updated October 2018 after experiencing friendly grey foxes while staying at the Ecolodge El Sombrero in April, August, September, and October 2018 (yes, there are so many plants and animals to enjoy learning about that we spend a week at Parque Nacional Yaxha Nakum Naranjo each month.
Previous update August 28, 2018.
First posted late August 2015.
Bibliography prepared by Marcella Sarti, FLAAR Mesoamerica.

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