Species Spotlight: Kit Fox

kit foxOften overshadowed by more well-known foxes, such as red or gray foxes, the kit fox deserves its moment to shine in this month’s species spotlight.

These cute little creatures are typically around five pounds in weight and about 20 inches long. They have tan coats and a long, bushy tail with a black tip. Their large ears help to dissipate heat and listen to quiet nighttime noises. Primarily a nocturnal hunter, kit foxes subsist off of rabbits, small birds, insects, mice and cactus fruits. 

Kit foxes, also called the desert fox, inhabit the dry, arid deserts and areas of Western North America and Mexico. You’ll most likely see one in the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge, Death Valley National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. Unfortunately, the overall kit fox population is decreasing. How common the kit fox is depends on location and subspecies. For example, the San Joaquin Kit Fox was placed on the national endangered species list in 1967. Kit fox classifications vary by state. In California, they’re listed as threatened and in Oregon they’re considered endangered. Their biggest threat is habitat conservation for agriculture and urban development. Habitat loss grows as humans encroach on their territory. In the wild, eagles and coyotes are their natural predators.

Mothers will give birth to about four or five foxes in a litter. Pups leave the den at about one month old to begin the hunt with their mothers.

Fun Facts:

-A kit fox den was found in the student quarter of Panama-Buena Vista Union School District in Bakersfield, CA.

-San Joaquin Kit Fox is the smallest canid species in North America.

-The name kit fox stems from the species’ small size. Baby foxes are called kits.

Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons

Comments

We have a pair of kit foxes living near our home in western Colorado.  We saw them twice at night from our car while they were out hunting.  Some nights they are in the field behind  our house and make their yipping calls.  Quite distinct from coyotes or red fox.  The field has plenty of prairie dogs for food.  Very fascinating canide.