Articles on this page are available in 1 other language: Spanish (12) (learn more)

Overview

Brief Summary

Description

The kit fox has been thought by some to be a subspecies of the swift fox. This fox currently inhabits desert and semi-arid regions between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rocky Mountains and on down into Baja California and the North Central states of Mexico; it is also found in the San Joaquin Valley of California.

Several features distinguish the kit fox from the swift fox. Kit fox ears are larger and set closer together than the swift fox. The head of the kit fox is slightly broader between the eyes and the snout is narrower. The kit fox has a longer tail, relative to the body, than the swift fox.

Their diet consists of the most readily available small mammals in the region, especially rodents and rabbits. The relationship of kit fox populations to populations of banner-tailed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spectabilis) in the San Joaquin Valley and to black-tailed jack rabbits (Lepus californicus) in Utah have been well documented.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World  (see Vulpes velox)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution

Source: Smithsonian's North American Mammals

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Biology

Kit foxes are primarily monogamous, usually mating for life (5). Mating occurs from mid-December to January, with litters containing one to seven pups, which are born in special 'pupping dens' from mid-February to mid-March (5) (6). Pups are weaned and emerge from dens at about four weeks, and become independent at five to six months (5) (6). Young, usually females, may delay dispersal and stay in their home ranges to help raise the next litter (5). Individuals have been recorded to live up to seven years in the wild (5). Kit foxes are usually active at night, but occasionally exhibit crepuscular behaviour (5). Mated pairs regularly share dens throughout the year (10). Multiple dens are used, which are either self-excavated or made from modified burrows of other animals, or human-made structures, such as culverts, abandoned pipes, and banks in roadbeds (11). Mainly solitary hunters, these foxes primarily consume rodents and rabbits, although birds, amphibians, carrion and small amounts of fruit may also be eaten (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Description

Kit foxes are among the smallest foxes of the Americas, with their most conspicuous characteristic being exceptionally large, closely set ears (5) (6), which help dissipate body heat in their desert environment (6). This fox has a slender body, long legs and a very bushy tail, which sticks straight out behind it and is tipped in black (6) (7). The colour of the coat varies with the season, ranging from rusty-tan to buff-grey in the summer, to silvery grey in the winter, with a whitish belly (7). The hair is dense between the footpads (5), giving the fox better traction on the sandy soil of its habitat, whilst also protecting the paws from the heat of the desert sand (6). The kit fox and the more easterly swift fox (Vulpes velox) were previously considered a single species, but more recent evidence implies the two species are distinct. Both foxes are sometimes called the swift fox, due to their ability to run as fast as 25 mph (40 km/h) for short distances (8).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

Range Description

The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. In the United States, it occurs from southern California to western Colorado and western Texas, north into southern Oregon and Idaho. In Mexico, it occurs across the Baja California Peninsula and across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to western Nuevo Len, and south into northern Zacatecas (McGrew 1979, Hall 1981).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Kit foxes are primarily found in the southwestern part of the United States and northern and central Mexico. They are found as far north as the arid interior of Oregon, east to southwestern Colorado, south through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas. In Mexico they are found mainly in the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Nuevo Leon, and throughout Baja California.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Meaney & Company, Bear Canyon Consulting, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database: Meaney Dr. C. A., Reed-Eckert M., Beauvais Dr. G. P.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Rocky Mountain Region: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project. 2006.
  • List, R., B. Cypher. 2005. "Vulpes macrotis (kit fox)" (On-line). IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_macrotis.htm.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Historic range: southwestern U.S. to Baja California and central mainland of Mexico. Range now much reduced but incompletely known. Occurs in Great Basin, Sonoran, and Mojave deserts.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Historic Range:
U.S.A. (CA)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Range

Found only in western North America. In the United States, the kit fox's distribution ranges from southern California to western Colorado and western Texas, north into southern Oregon and Idaho. In Mexico, it occurs across the Baja California Peninsula and across northern Sonora and Chihuahua to western Nuevo León, and south into northern Zacatecas (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Kit foxes are the smallest member of the family Canidae in North America. Their most distinctive feature is their exceptionally large ears placed close together on the head. The ears are from 71 to 95 mm in height and they play a role in dissipating heat and the excellent hearing of kit foxes.

Kit foxes range in color from yellowish to gray. They usually have a dark-colored back, light-colored undersides and inner ears, and distinct dark patches on each side of the nose and at the end of the tail. Males average slightly larger than females. Head and body length is from 485 to 520 mm in males (average 537) and from 455 to 535 mm in females (average 501). The tail is from 250 to 340 mm long. Males average 2.29 kg and females 1.9 kg, ranging from 1.6 to 2.7 kg.

Range mass: 1.6 to 2.7 kg.

Range length: 455 to 535 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size

Length: 81 cm

Weight: 2700 grams

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Size in North America

Length:
Range: 730-840 mm

Weight:
Range: 1.4-2.7 kg
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution

Source: Smithsonian's North American Mammals

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type Information

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 75828
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): G. Leonard
Year Collected: 1895
Locality: Tracy, San Joaquin Valley, San Joaquin County, California, United States, North America
  • Type: Merriam, C. H. 1902 Mar 22. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 15: 74.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 140394
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Nelson & E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1905
Locality: Trinidad Valley, NW base of San Pedro Martir Mountains, Baja California, Mexico, North America
Elevation (m): 792
  • Type: Nelson, E. W. & Goldman, E. A. 1931 Aug 24. Journal of Mammalogy. 12 (3): 302.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 213103
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): M. Gill
Year Collected: 1915
Locality: Willow Creek Ranch, near Jungo, Humboldt County, Nevada, United States, North America
  • Type: Goldman, E. A. 1931 Jun 04. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 21: 250.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 98646
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skull
Collector(s): C. Barber
Year Collected: 1899
Locality: Baird's Ranch, San Andreas Range, ca 50 mi N of El Paso, Texas, Dona Ana County, New Mexico, United States, North America
  • Type: Merriam, C. H. 1902 Mar 22. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 15: 74.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 147078
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Nelson & E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1905
Locality: Llano de Yrais, opposite Magdalena Island, Baja California Sur, Mexico, North America
  • Type: Nelson, E. W. & Goldman, E. A. 1909 Mar 10. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 22: 25.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Type for Vulpes macrotis
Catalog Number: USNM 202959
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): E. Goldman
Year Collected: 1913
Locality: Tule Tanks, 2 mi S, near Mexican Boundary, Yuma County, Arizona, United States, North America
  • Type: Goldman, E. A. 1931 Jun 04. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 21: 249.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The Kit Fox inhabits arid and semi-arid regions encompassing desert scrub, chaparral, halophytic, and grassland communities (McGrew 1979, O'Farrell 1987). Areas with sparse ground cover are preferred (McGrew 1977, Cypher et al. 2013). It is found in elevations ranging from 4001,900 m a.s.l., although Kit Foxes generally avoid rugged terrain with slopes >5% (Warrick and Cypher 1998). Loose textured soils may be preferred for denning. Kit Foxes will use agricultural lands, particularly orchards, on a limited basis, and also can inhabit urban environments (Morrell 1972, Cypher 2010). Home range size varies from 251 ha to 1160 ha and generally does not differ between sexes (Cypher 2003). Size can vary with habitat conditions, particularly food availability (Spiegel 1996, Zoellick et al. 2002). Kit foxes are primarily nocturnal and nightly movements exceeding 14 km have been reported (Zoellick et al. 1989, 2002). Kit Foxes use dens year-round and uses include daytime resting, escaping predators, avoiding temperature extremes, conserving moisture, and bearing and rearing young (Egoscue 1962, Morrell 1972, Koopman et al. 1998). Kit Foxes can excavate their own dens, but also will modify and use the burrows of badgers, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and kangaroo rats (Morrell 1972, List 1997, Koopman et al. 1998). Dens are distributed throughout home ranges, and an individual fox typically uses over 11 dens during a given year (Koopman et al. 1998).

Kit Foxes primarily consume animal prey and common items include rodents, rabbits, invertebrates, birds, lizards, and snakes. Among rodents, kangaroo rats, pocket mice, prairie dogs, and ground squirrels generally are preferred, and common invertebrate prey include beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers (Cypher 2003, List et al. 2003). Fluctuations in food availability related to variable annual precipitation levels are a primary factor driving Kit Fox population dynamics (White and Garrott 1997, Cypher et al. 2000). Kit Foxes do not require free water but will drink it if available (Egoscue 1956, Golightly and Ohmart 1984).

Kit Foxes experience intense interference and exploitative competition from other species, particularly coyotes (White et al. 1995, Cypher and Spencer 1998, Kozlowski et al. 2008). Other competitors include bobcats, badgers, golden eagles, and red foxes. Predators generally are the primary source of mortality, but other causes include vehicles, harvest, and rodenticides (Ralls and White 1995; Cypher et al. 2000, 2014). Disease does not appear to be a significant factor in most Kit Fox populations. At one site, annual survival probabilities for adults ranged from 0.20 to 0.81 over 16 years with a mean of 0.44 (Cypher et al. 2000).

Kit Foxes pair during October and November (if not already paired), and breed in December and January (Egoscue 1956). Gestation is 49-55 days, and parturition occurs during January-March (Egoscue 1956, Egoscue 1962, Zoellick et al. 1987). Typical litter size averages about 4 and ranges from 1-9 (Cypher 2003). Annual reproductive success is strongly influenced by food availability (Egoscue 1975, White and Garrott 1997) and at one location ranged from 20-100% over a 16-year period (Cypher et al. 2000). Kit Foxes mate for life and are primarily monogamous with occasional instances of polygyny (Egoscue 1962; Ralls et al. 2001, 2007). Young from previous years, typically females, may delay dispersal and assist with raising the current years litter (Koopman et al. 2000, Ralls et al. 2001).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Kit foxes are primarily found in arid regions, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. Vegetation communities vary with the regional aridland fauna, but some examples of common habitats are saltbrush Atriplex polycarpa and sagebrush Artemisia tridentata. Kit foxes may also occur in agricultural areas and urban environments. They occur at elevations of 400 to 1900 meters. Kit foxes prefer areas with loose soils for constructing dens. They spend most of their time in dens that they dig themselves or take over from prairie dogs (Cynomys), other rodents, and American badgers (Taxidea taxus). Kit foxes occupy dens year-round and have several dens in their territory that they rotate among. Dens could have one or many entrances and are usually covered by thick brush. They usually stay in their dens during the daytime, exiting to hunt for food at night.

Range elevation: 400 to 1900 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral

Other Habitat Features: urban ; agricultural

  • Utah State University Wildlife Management: Jensen E., Poulsen C., Rogers M., Messmer Dr. T.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis). Wildlife Notebook Series No. 9. Logan, Utah: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. 1993.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Comments: Primarily open desert, shrubby or shrub-grass habitat. In central California, found in alkali sink, valley grassland, foothill woodland. In Mohave Desert, occurs in crosote bush; in Great Basin, in shadscale, greasewood and sagebrush.

Young are born in an underground den. Den usually has multiple entrances (3 or more) and may be 3-6 m long, reaching 127 cm in depth. In Utah, most dens were on flat, well-drained uplands (Daneke et al. 1985). Several dens may be used, especially in summer.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

The kit fox occupies arid and semi-arid regions (5), encompassing the open prairie/grassland plains of west-central North America into the drier semi-deserts and true deserts of the southwest United States (9). It is found at elevations ranging from 400 to 1,900 metres, although rugged terrain with slopes is generally avoided. Agricultural lands, particularly orchards, and even urban environments may also be inhabited (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Home ranges vary from 260 to 520 hectares (Morrell 1972), up to 1160 hectares during times of prey scarcity (White and Ralls 1993).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

Kit foxes eat primarily rodents and rabbits. Species preyed on varies regionally, but the most common prey are prairie dogs (Cynomys species), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys species), black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), and cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus species). Kit foxes are primarily carnivores, but if food is scarce, they have been reported to eat tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), cactus fruits (Carnegiea gigantea), and other available fruits. They also will scavenge carrion and eat large insects, lizards, snakes, and ground-dwelling birds.

Kit foxes may compete for food and dens with coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcats (Lynx rufus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and American badgers (Taxidea taxus).

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; carrion ; insects

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

  • Couper, H., D. Dixon, D. Fuller, J. Garlick, J. Griffiths, N. Henbest, B. Jones, R. Kerrod, A. Lyons, R. Matthews, R. Mills, Z. Vrbova. 1989. Deserts. Pp. "98" in R Kerrod, ed. The Plant World, Vol. 5, First Edition. Chicago: Bull Publishing.
  • George Jr., W. 1990. Tomato. Pp. "325-326" in S Fetzer Company, ed. The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, First Edition. Chicago London Sydney Toronto: Scott Fetzer Company.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Comments: Primary food item is usually the most abundant nocturnal rodent or lagomorph in the area (e.g., DIPODOMYS spp., LEPUS CALIFORNICUS). May also feed opportunistically on birds, reptiles, insects.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Kit foxes are prey for other carnivores such as coyotes (Canis latrans) and bobcats (Lynx rufus). Also kit foxes are predators of rodents or other small animals, including black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys), and prairie dogs (Cynomys). Because kit foxes move from den to den in search of a mate and food, their old dens are taken over by other kit foxes or other animals. As scavengers, kit foxes also play a major role in biodegradation.

Fleas, such as Pulex irritans and Pulex simulans, are common parasites of this species. Ticks are also common and include Ixodes texanus and Dermacentor perumapertus. Other cestode parasites include Mesocestoides corti, Mesogyna hypatica, and Dipylidium caninum. Unidentified roundworms and tapeworms have been noted from scat collections.

Ecosystem Impact: creates habitat; biodegradation

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • fleas (Pulex irritans)
  • fleas (Pulex simulans)
  • cestode parasites (Mesocestoides corti)
  • cestode parasites (Mesogyna hypatica)
  • cestode parasites (Dipylidium caninum)
  • ticks (Ixodes texanus)
  • ticks (Dermacentor perumapertus)

  • Egoscue, H. 1956. Preliminary Studies of the Kit Fox in Utah. Journal of Mammalogy, 37/3: 351-357.
  • Harrison, R., M. Patrick, C. Schmitt. 2002. Foxes, Fleas, and Plague in New Mexico. The Southwestern Naturalist, 48/4: "720-728".
  • Voge, M. 1955. A List of Cestode Parasites From California Mammals. American Midland Naturalist, 54/2: 413-417.
  • Wilson, N., P. Bishop. 1966. A New Host and Range Extensino for Pulex simulans Baker with a Summary of Published Records (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). American Midland Naturalist, 75/1: 245-248.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Predation by coyotes (Canis latrans) accounts for over 75% of kit fox predation. Other predators include bobcats (Lynx rufus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), American badgers (Taxidea taxus), feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and large raptors (Accipitridae). Also kit fox deaths have been due to interactions with humans, such as illegal hunting and trapping for fur. Kit foxes are also hit by cars. Kit foxes are wary and nocturnal, with cryptic coloration, reducing their risk of predation.

Known Predators:

  • coyotes (Canis latrans)
  • bobcats (Lynx rufus)
  • humans (Homo sapiens)
  • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
  • American badgers (Taxidea taxus)
  • feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
  • large raptors (Accipitridae)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

  • U.S. Departments of the Army and Air Force National Guard Bureau. Mortality of San Joquin Kit Fox (Vulpes velox macrotis) at Camp Roberts Army National Guard Training Site, California. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Nevada Field Office: U.S. Department of Energy. 1992.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

General Ecology

White and Garrot (1997) looked at available data on kit and swift fox populations and concluded that prey abundance and interference competition by coyotes may regulate fox populations. They suspected that prey abundance and behavioral spacing mechanisms are the major factors regulating fox densities. They felt that coyote-related mortalities may be less important but still might act in concert with prey abundance to reduce the amplitude of fox population variations and keep foxes at lower densities than they might otherwise attain.

White and Garrot (1999) further concluded that high-amplitude fluctuations in kit fox abundance may be related to random, precipitation-influenced changes in prey abundance and need not reflect special or persistent causes such as predation or disease.

Maximum population density in optimum habitat in western Utah was about 2 adults per 259 ha.

Seasonal home range in Utah averaged less than 5 sq km; no overlap for same-sex adults (Daneke et al. 1985, O'Neal et al. 1987). In western Arizona, home range averaged 9.8 sq km in females, 12.3 sq km in males; home ranges commonly overlapped (Zoellick and Smith 1992). In the San Joaquin Valley, California, home ranges were 2.6-5.2 sq km (Morrel 1972). Dispersal distance (mostly juveniles) in Kern County, California, was 1.8-32.3 km (mean 7.8 km) (Scrivner et al. 1987).

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Kit foxes have very large ears and excellent hearing. Kit foxes sometimes bark at perceived threats or use a "hacking growl" in intraspecific encounters.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

  • Ralls, K., P. White. 2003. Diurnal Spacing Patterns in Kit Foxes, a Monogamous Canid. The Southwestern Naturalist, 48/3: "432-436".
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Cyclicity

Comments: Basically nocturnal but young may play outside mouth of den in late afternoon.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Life Expectancy

Vulpes macrotis survival rates are dependent on food availability, reproduction, and local predators. Different studies have estimated different life expectancies for kit foxes. Some report lifespans of 3 to 4 years, while others reported 7 to 12 years.  In California a study of 144 kit fox pups showed a 74% mortality rate in pups within the first year.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
7 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
12 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
5.5 years.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 15.8 years (captivity) Observations: There is one report of one specimen still living after 20 years in captivity (Ronald Nowak 1999). Although not impossible, this was probably an error, and the record longevity in captivity is now considered to be 15.8 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Joao Pedro de Magalhaes

Source: AnAge

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Reproduction

Most studies have shown kit foxes to be monogamous, with pairs mating for life. Occasional polygyny has also been reported. When the female is ready to reproduce, she goes out on her own in search of a den. This usually happens around the month of September. In October, the male kit fox will join her and remain with her until the end of the breeding season. Female young will sometimes delay dispersal and stay an additional year beyond their independence to help raise their siblings.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous ; cooperative breeder

Kit foxes mate once per year from mid-December to February. The typical gestation period is 49 to 55 days, and they can produce a litter of 1 to 7 pups, with an average of 4. Births occus from February to mid-March. Although females are able to breed 10 months after birth, many females do not reproduce that first year. Young females are much lower reproductive success than do older females.

Breeding interval: Kit foxes breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from December to February.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 7.

Range gestation period: 49 to 55 days.

Average weaning age: 8 weeks.

Range time to independence: 5 to 6 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10 (low) months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10 (low) months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous

Young stay in their birth den until they are 4 weeks old and are weaned at 8 weeks old. The young begin to hunt with their parents at 3 to 4 months old and are independent at 5 to 6 months old. Most young disperse by 8 months old. Both male and female parents care for and protect their young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Meaney & Company, Bear Canyon Consulting, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database: Meaney Dr. C. A., Reed-Eckert M., Beauvais Dr. G. P.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment. DE-AC08-88NV10617. Rocky Mountain Region: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Species Conservation Project. 2006.
  • List, R., B. Cypher. 2005. "Vulpes macrotis (kit fox)" (On-line). IUCN Canid Specialist Group. Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://www.canids.org/species/Vulpes_macrotis.htm.
  • Utah State University Wildlife Management: Jensen E., Poulsen C., Rogers M., Messmer Dr. T.. Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis). Wildlife Notebook Series No. 9. Logan, Utah: Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. 1993.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Breeds from December to January-February. Females are monestrous. Gestation lasts probably 49-56 days. One litter of 4-5 is produced usually in February or March. Pups first emerge from the den at about 1 month. Young are tended by both sexes. Family groups usually split up in October.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vulpes macrotis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Cypher, B. & List, R.

Reviewer/s
Hoffmann, M. & Sillero-Zubiri, C.

Contributor/s

Justification
The Kit Fox inhabits the deserts and arid lands of western North America. Generally, the species is common to rare, with population densities fluctuating with annual environmental conditions. Estimation of a population size or even population trends for this species is not possible with currently available information. Population monitoring for this species is largely limited to only a few specific sites. However, natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed (e.g., agriculture, solar energy). Thus, in numerous locations throughout the range, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations and area of occupancy are declining. Nonetheless, the species currently does not meet any of the thresholds for the threatened categories, and is presently assessed as Least Concern. However, this status could change over the next several decades if current habitat loss trends continue.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • 2004
    Least Concern (LC)
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/conservation dependent (LR/cd)
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Kit foxes are listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Populations throughout most of the United States are estimated to be stable. San Joaquin kit foxes, V. macrotis mutica, are considered endangered in the United States, as their habitat continues to be fragmented and lost to agriculture. Kit foxes are listed as species of concern in some states, including Colorado and Utah, where programs exist that are designed to protect kit fox populations. They are considered state threatened in California and state endangered in Oregon. In Mexico it is likely that kit fox populations are in decline as 40% of prairie dog populations have been converted to agriculture since 1994. Kit foxes are considered "vulnerable" in Mexico.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/11/1967
Lead Region:   California/Nevada Region (Region 8) 
Where Listed: U.S.A(CA)


Population detail:

Population location: U.S.A(CA)
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Vulpes macrotis, see its USFWS Species Profile

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List. Eight subspecies are recognised: V. m. nevadensis, V. m. mutica, V. m. arsipus, V. m. devia, V. m. macrotis, V. m. neomexicana, V. m. tenuirostris, V. m. zinseri. The kit fox is considered Vulnerable in Mexico (3). In the United States, the San Joaquin kit fox (V. m. mutica) is federally classified as Endangered, and as Threatened by the state of California (4). In Oregon, the kit fox is classified as Endangered (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Population

Population
The species is common to rare. Density fluctuates with annual environmental conditions, which are dependent upon precipitation (Cypher et al. 2000). In Utah, density ranged from 0.10.8/km (Egoscue 1956, 1975). In California, density varied from 0.150.24/km over a period of three years on one study site (White et al. 1996) and from 0.21.7/km over 15 years on another study site (Cypher et al. 2000). Kit Fox densities in prairie dog town complexes in Mexico were 0.320.8/km in Chihuahua (List 1997) and 0.1/km in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon (Ctera 1996).

In Mexico, data on which to base a population estimate for Kit Foxes are only available from two localities with very specific characteristics (presence of prairie dog towns). Therefore, the estimation of a population size for the country or even population trends is not possible with current information. However, because natural habitats occupied by the Kit Fox are being transformed, it is safe to assume that, overall, populations of the Kit Fox in Mexico are declining. In the past 10 years, about 40% of prairie dog towns in Coahuila and Nuevo Leon were converted to agriculture (L. Scott and E. Estrada unpubl.), and of the area occupied in Chihuahua by prairie dogs in 1988, 76% remained in 2005 (vila et al. 2012) and by 2013 only 3% remained (R. Sierra and E. Ponce pers. comm.).

In the United States, Kit Fox abundance is unknown. Populations are relatively large and trends are assumed to be relatively stable in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and possibly the Mjoave Desert of California, based on extensive remaining suitable habitat. Populations in Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon are relatively small and trends are unknown (Cypher 2003). Populations of the Endangered (USFWS) San Joaquin Kit Fox in the San Joaquin Valley of California are likely still declining due to continuing habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation (USFWS 1998).

Population Trend
Decreasing
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Threats

Major Threats
The main threat to the long-term survival of the Kit Fox is habitat conversion, mainly to agriculture but also to urban and industrial development. In both western and eastern Mexico, prairie dog towns, which support important populations of Kit Foxes are being converted to agricultural fields (e.g., vila-Flores et al. 2012), and in eastern Mexico the road network is expanding, producing a concomitant increase in the risk of vehicle mortality. In the San Joaquin Valley of California, habitat conversion for agriculture is slowing, but habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation associated with industrial and urban development are still occurring at a rapid pace.More recently, expansive industrial-scale solar energy generating facilities are being constructed throughout the western USA, but particularly in California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Predation, predominantly by coyotes (Canis latrans), is the main source of mortality for kit foxes and commonly accounts for over 75 percent of deaths (5). Other species that provide further competition and hunting pressures include the non-native red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the domestic dog (Canis familiaris), bobcat (Felis rufus), and large raptors (7). However, the most significant threat to the long-term survival of the kit fox is habitat conversion, mainly to agricultural land (5). In particular, the habitat of important kit fox populations in western and eastern Mexico is rapidly being converted to agricultural fields, while large numbers of roads are being built in eastern Mexico (5). These changes have caused displacement, direct and indirect mortalities, barriers to movement, and reduction of prey populations (7). In Mexico, kit foxes are occasionally sold illegally in the pet market, and limited harvesting for the fur trade still occurs in some U.S. states (5).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Not listed on the CITES Appendices. The Kit Fox is considered Vulnerable in Mexico (SEMARNAT 2010). In the United States, the San Joaquin Kit Fox (V. m. mutica) is federally classified as Endangered, and as Threatened by the state of California (USFWS 1998). In Oregon, Kit Foxes are classified as Threatened. In Colorado, Kit Foxes are classified as Endangered. In Idaho, Kit Foxes are considered a protected non-game species.Harvests are not permitted in Idaho, Oregon, or California, and the Kit Fox is a protected furbearer species (i.e., regulated harvests) in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. In Mexico, the vulnerable status of the Kit Fox grants conservation measures for the species, but these are not enforced. In the United States, state and federal protections for Kit Foxes are being enforced.
In Mexico, Kit Foxes are found in the Biosphere Reserves of El Vizcaino, Mapimi, El Pinacate and Janos, in the Area of Special Protection of Cuatro Cinegas, and are probably found in another eight protected areas throughout their range. In the United States, they occur in numerous protected areas throughout their range. The Endangered subspecies V. m. mutica occurs in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and various other federal, state, and private conservation lands.

Efforts are underway to protect the prairie dog towns of both eastern (Pronatura Noreste) and western Mexico (Institute of Ecology from the National University of Mexico), which are known to be strongholds for the Kit Fox, but no specific actions focused on the Kit Fox are being undertaken in Mexico. In the United States, a recovery plan has been completed (USFWS 1998) and is being implemented for the San Joaquin Kit Fox. Recovery actions include protection of essential habitat, and demographic and ecological research in both natural and anthropogenically modified landscapes.

No captive breeding efforts are currently being conducted for Kit Foxes. Facilities such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California, and several zoos keep live Kit Foxes for display and educational purposes.

Gaps in knowledge
In general, demographic and ecological data are needed throughout the range of the species so that population trends and demographic patterns can be assessed. In Mexico,availableinformation on the Kit Fox is scarce. The most important gaps in our knowledge of the species are the present distribution of the species and population estimates throughout its range. General biological information is needed from more localities in the Mexican range of the Kit Fox. In the United States, information is needed on the effects of solar energy plants, investigating dispersal patterns and corridors, determining metapopulation dynamics and conducting viability analyses, developing conservation strategies in anthropogenically altered landscapes, assessing threats from non-native Red Foxes, and range-wide population monitoring.

Research in progress in Mexico includes investigations of abundance and diet in the Janos Biosphere Reserve as well as relationships between Kit Foxes and sylvatic plague. Research in progress on the endangered San Joaquin Kit Fox include investigations of solar energy development effects, trophic interactions, urban ecology, population genetic structure, ecology in core and satellite population areas, and population effects of sarcoptic mange. Research in progress elsewhere in the USA includes abundance and ecology in Oregon, detection and ecology in Idaho, survey methods in low-density areas, interactions with coyotes near artificial water sources in Utah, effects of off-highway vehicles in Arizona, and distribution and occupancy in New Mexico.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Kit foxes are found in numerous protected areas throughout their range. In Mexico, these include the Biosphere Reserves of El Vizcaino, Mapimi and El Pinacate, in the Area of Special Protection of Cuatro Ciénegas. In the U.S., the Endangered subspecies V. m. mutica occurs in the Carrizo Plain National Monument and various other federal, state, and private conservation lands. Poaching of the species is prohibited in Idaho, Oregon, and California, and the kit fox is a protected furbearer species (i.e., hunting is regulated) in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. A recovery plan has been developed in the United States, which is currently being implemented for the San Joaquin subspecies (V. m. mutica). This plan includes protection of essential habitat, as well as demographic and ecological research. Captive foxes are held for display and educational purposes at facilities such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona; California Living Museum in Bakersfield, California; and several zoos, although no captive breeding efforts are being conducted at present (5). Fortunately, the kit fox is still considered relatively common in many parts of its range. Nevertheless, population size and trends need to be quantified and closely monitored to ensure that the species does not reach the Endangered status of the San Joaquin subspecies (V. m. mutica), which sadly faces a more perilous and uncertain future (1).
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Wildscreen

Source: ARKive

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Kit foxes can have a negative impact on humans by carrying diseases. The main disease of concern is plague, which foxes contract from fleas.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Kit foxes are important members of native ecosystems, helping to control rodent populations through predation.

Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors

Source: Animal Diversity Web

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Wikipedia

Kit fox

For other uses, see Kit (disambiguation).

The kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is a fox species of North America. Its range is primarily in the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. Some mammalogists classify it as conspecific with the swift fox, V. velox, but molecular systematics imply that the two species are distinct.

Range[edit]

The northernmost part of its range is the arid interior of Oregon. Its eastern limit is southwestern Colorado. It can be found south through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas.[3]

Subspecies[edit]

The endangered San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) was formerly very common in the San Joaquin Valley and through much of Central California. Its 1990 population was estimated to be 7,000. This species is still endangered, after nearly 50 years of being on the Endangered Species List. Officially this species was listed March 3, 1967.[4] On September 26, 2007, Wildlands Inc. announced the designation of the 684-acre (2.77 km2) Deadman Creek Conservation Bank, which is intended specifically to protect habitat of the San Joaquin kit fox.[5] However, the population continues to decline mostly due to heavy habitat loss. Other factors include competition from red fox, and the extermination of the gray wolf from California has left the coyote as the dominant meso-predator in kit fox territory bringing an unbalance in ecosystem relationships. One park where San Joaquin kit foxes can be found, Carrizo Plains National Monument allows coyote hunting which can contribute to kit fox loss because of a lack of understanding of the differences between these two species of Canidae.

The Southern California kit fox (V. m. macrotis) was a population of kit foxes native to desert regions of Southern California which became extinct in 1903.

The desert kit fox (V. m. arsipus) lives in the Mojave Desert.

Appearance[edit]

The kit fox is the smallest species of the family Canidae found in North America. It has large ears, between 71 and 95 mm (2.8 and 3.75 in), that help the fox lower its body temperature and give it exceptional hearing (much like those of the fennec fox). This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with the male being slightly larger. The average species weight is between 1.6 and 2.7 kg (3.5 and 6.0 lbs). The body length is 455 to 535 mm (18 to 21 in). The tail adds another 250–340 mm (9.85–13.4 in) to its length.[3]

It usually has a gray coat, with rusty tones, and a black tip to its tail. Unlike the gray fox, it has no stripe along the length of its tail. Its color ranges from yellowish to gray, and the back is usually darker than the majority of its coat; its belly and inner ears are usually lighter. It has distinct dark patches around the nose.[3]

Diet[edit]

The kit fox is mostly a nocturnal[6] animal, but sometimes ventures out of its den during the day. It usually goes out to hunt shortly after sunset, mostly eating small animals such as kangaroo rats, cottontail rabbits, black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus), meadow voles, hares, prairie dogs, insects, lizards, snakes, fish, and ground-dwelling birds. It will scavenge carrion. While primarily carnivorous, if food is scarce, it has been known to eat tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), cactus fruits (Carnegiea gigantea) and other fruits. Different kit fox families can occupy the same hunting grounds, but do not generally go hunting at the same time.[3]

Habitat[edit]

Kit foxes favor arid climates, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. Good examples of common habitats are sagebrush Artemisia tridentata and saltbrush Atriplex polycarpa. They can be found in urban and agricultural areas, too. They are found at elevations of 400 to 1,900 meters (1,300 to 6,200 feet) above sea level.[3]

Mating[edit]

Male and female kit foxes usually establish monogamous mating pairs during October and November. Polygamous mating relationships have been observed. Pairs can change year to year. They mate from December to February, when they use larger family dens.[clarification needed] Litters are born throughout March and April, usually containing one to seven pups, and average four pups. The gestation is 49 to 55 days. Pups do not leave the den until they are four weeks old. They are weaned after about eight weeks and become independent at five to six months old. They become sexually mature at 10 months. Both parents take part in raising and protecting their young. The average lifespan of a wild kit fox is 5.5 years. In captivity, they can live 12 years. One California study of 144 kit fox pups showed a 74% mortality rate in pups within the first year.[3][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ IUCN SCC Canid Specialist Group (North America Regional Section) (2008). Vulpes macrotis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ a b c d e f ADW: Vulpes macrotis: Information. Animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu (2008-04-05). Retrieved on 2011-09-16.
  4. ^ http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A006
  5. ^ Kit fox Gets Some Protection, In California, Environmental News Network, September 27, 2007
  6. ^ "Kit Fox". Digital Desert. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  7. ^ "Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis): A Technical Conservation Assessment", 2006
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Source: Wikipedia

Unreviewed

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Vulpes macrotis is here treated as a species separate from V. velox.

Vulpes macrotis (kit fox) was regarded as conspecific with V. velox (swift fox) by Dragoo et al. (1990) (conclusion based mainly on protein-electrophoretic study) and some previous authors. Jones et al. (1992) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) concurred in treating velox and macrotis as conspecific. Dragoo et al. (1990) included macrotis as a subspecies of V. velox; other nominal subspecies were regarded as unworthy of recognition.

Mercure et al. (1993) examined mtDNA variability in 10 areas throughout most of the range of the kit and swift foxes; they concluded that kit and swift foxes hybridize over a limited geographic area and should be recognized as separate species; they suggested that the San Joaquin Valley population, though not very distinctive, be recognized as a subspecies because, relative to variation within kit foxes, it appeared as the most distinct single phylogeographic unit and is an isolated population; mtDNA data did not support any of the other 10 subspecific designations of kit and swift fox (Hall 1981). The mammal lists by Baker et al. (2003) and Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) followed Mercure et al. (1993) in recognizing V. macrotis and V. velox as distinct species.

See Dragoo and Wayne (2003) for a review of the systematics of these foxes.

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!