Vulpes macrotis
(Kit fox)

Order: Carnivora
Order Description: Carnivores
Family: Canidae
Family Description: Wolfs, Coyotes, and Foxes

Kit foxes have a slim body, with ears that are relatively much larger than any other member of the family Canidae, and its tail is long and bushy, about 40% of its total length. The legs look long and slender, typical of the red fox, and the soles of its feet have hair. The nose appears long and slender. DorsalClick word for definition coloration in a light grizzled or yellowish-gray. The grizzled appearance is from guard hairs that are tipped with black. Its color on the sides and underneath varies from light buffClick word for definition to white. Total length is 28 ¾ to 33 inches (66-82 cm), the tail is 10 ¼ to 12 5/8 inches (26-32 cm), weight is about 4.25 to nearly 5 pounds (1.9-2.2 kg).

The kit fox ranges over the Great Basin from southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon south and east through Utah and southern Wyoming, into central California, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas and south into northern Mexico. It is typically found in the deserts of this region. In Idaho, the species has been recorded only in Owyhee, Elmore and Oneida counties.

The kit fox is an inhabitant of dry country. They are found in desert and semiarid regions. They prefer flat, shrub-grass communities with very sparse ground cover and light, desert soils. They also occupy sand dunes which often have more cover. Throughout the Great Basin, they occur in shadscale, greasewood and sagebrush.

They are primarily, predators on rodents. They seem to rely on jackrabbits and kangaroo rats, but also take various ground nesting birds, reptiles and insects.

Kit foxes hunt and forage for food at night, but little information exists on their habits in Idaho. Den sites consist of a narrow tunnel entrance, usually with more than one entrance, ranging from 2 upward (24 entrances were recorded at a kit fox dens site), and the dens range from 10 to 20 feet long (3-6 m) and reach depths of about 48 inches (121 cm). Dens appear to be somewhat clustered, but most in a particular area are vacant. A pair of foxes will use more than one den per year. population densityClick word for definition in Utah ranged from 2 adults per 640 acres (259 ha) to 1 adult per 640 acres (259 ha). Little information is available on their home range requirements, but in Utah, kit foxes rarely ranged more than 1.9 miles (3 km) from their den site. Home range of different families overlap, but they usually don't occupy the same area at the same time. There is no evidence of territorialism or territorial marking in kit foxes. Their populations have been decimated by indiscriminate hunting, trapping and rodent poisoning.

Females search for den sites in early Fall, and males join them in late Fall. Breeding occurs in December and January. After a GestationClick word for definition period of 49 to 56 days, young are born in February or March. Males help the female raise the young by bringing food into the den. It appears that some pairs mate for life, but there is evidence that they don't hunt together. Pups emerge from the den after about 30 days, and begin to hunt with the parents at 3 to 4 months. Pups usually begin dispersing in October.

Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G?
State Rank: S?

Information written by Donald Streubel,© 2000
Photo by David L. Chesemore ©1995
Map image provided by Stephen Burton,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.