Desert Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis arsipus) is a small mammal related to dogs, found throughout open desert landscapes, and creosote scrub land throughout the Mojave desert. The kit fox is well adapted to harsh desert life, with large paws which allow them to navigate sand easily, and large ears which allow them to listen for prey miles away, conserving energy. Their ears are also said to help them control their inner body temperature.
The desert kit fox is nocturnal, spending its days underground in elaborate burrows. Their burrows range from 3 to 6 meters deep, and have multiple entrances. They typically have multiple burrows within their home range. The only known predators of the desert kit fox are coyote and golden eagles.
Hunting and navigating primarily by smell, similar to dogs, the desert kit fox is almost entirely carnivorous. They have little need to drink water as their digestive systems can utilize every ounce of water from their food. They hunt other nocturnal mammals, and thrive primarily on kangaroo rats.
Kit foxes reach sexual maturity around 18 months, and pair up to mate between October and January. A liter of 4 to 5 pups are born after a pregnancy of 6 to 7 weeks. The female nurses and cares for the young 24 hours a day until they are weaned. Kit foxes may live up to 8 years in the wild.
Kit fox are threatened by habitat development, ranching and grazing practices. They are currently listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned the State of California to change the desert kit fox’s status to protect this animal under the California Endangered Species act.
Desert Kit Fox Facts
- The desert kit fox uses its large ears to control its body temperature
- The kit fox lives in burrows, sleeping during the day and hunting at night
- They only known predators of the desert kit fox are coyote and golden eagles
- They have little need to drink water, thriving on water they extract from their food
- Though their populations are threatened by habitat development, the desert kit fox status is listed as a species of least concern
San Joaquin Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) is a small mammal related to dogs, found throughout annual grasslands, and creosote scrub landscapes throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley. Their home range once extended through Kern County to eastern Contra.
Costa County and to Stanislaus County, but as the land was developed and the habitat fragmented, the San Joaquin Fox lost roughly 94% of its habitat.
The San Joaquin kit fox are most active at night, and spend their days and winters in dens. Much of the habitat loss has occurred due to agricultural development and soil degradation. Each kit fox may use multiple burrows within their home range of 1 to 12 miles. Their only known predators are red and grey foxes, coyotes and bobcats. Large raptors may compete with them for food.
Hunting and navigating primarily by smell, similar to dogs, their diet includes ground squirrels, mice, kangaroo rats, San Joaquin antelope squirrels, rabbits, ground-nesting birds, insects, and some grass.
San Joaquin kit foxes reach sexual maturity around 12 months, and pair up to mate between December to March. The female kit fox nurses and cares for the young 24 hours a day until they are weaned. Kit foxes may live up to 8 years in the wild.
Due to habitat development, ranching and grazing practices the San Joaquin kit fox status has been listed as Endangered since 1967, and is federally protected.