The kit fox is a small wild dog living in western United States and Mexico. These foxes are some of the smallest foxes in both North or South America. One of the distinguishing features of this fox is the gray fur on its back. Most other foxes have a different color. Their long, bushy tail is tipped with black, and sticks almost straight out from this animal’s body. Their bellies are white. Another thing that helps distinguish the kit fox from other foxes is its large ears that stick almost straight up from its head. Their large size helps the fox stay cool in hot weather, as large ears radiate body heat faster. Kit foxes were once considered to be the same species as swift foxes, but recent research implies that they are actually separate species. Despite this, both foxes are sometimes called swift foxes. This may be due to the kit fox’s ability to run up to 25 miles (40 km) per hour! These animals are also sometimes called desert foxes. You can probably figure out why.
Kit foxes are not extremely large, ranging from 15 to 20 inches (38-52 cm) long. They have rather long tails. These can be from 8.5 inches to 12.5 inches (22-32 cm). Males, which are larger than females, have an average weight of about 5.1 pounds (2.3 kg). Females are normally around 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg). The adults can range from 3.5 to 6.5 pounds (1.6-3 kg), though.
Diet and hunting
Although I put this article about the kit fox in the “Carnivore mammals” category, these foxes do not eat only meat. Along with the animal foods that I will talk about in a little bit, they also sometimes eat fruit, including tomatoes, berries, and cactus fruits. Some of the animals these foxes eat include rabbits, kangaroo rats, and nocturnal rodents. They will also eat birds, reptiles, insects, and even carrion. Kit foxes forage at night, and they do not travel very far, rarely straying more than 2 miles (3.2 km) from their den.
Habitat and range
These foxes live mostly in the desert. Because of this they are nocturnal, letting them stay out of the hot sun during the day. As I mentioned above, they do their hunting in the night time, along with anything else they want to do outside of their dens. Kit foxes don’t always live in complete desert areas. They will sometimes inhabit prairies and plains as well. Even gardens, farmland, and urban areas will occasionally be home to these foxes.
As you can see from the map below, kit foxes live mainly in the United States, but many live in Mexico. They live as far north as the southern parts of Oregon and Idaho in the United States and as far south as almost halfway down Mexico.
Status and Threats
Kit foxes are classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Although this is unusual for animals, especially predators, the main reason of death among kit foxes is predation. They actually have many predators, but their biggest threat is coyotes. Other animal enemies include badgers, other foxes, bobcats, wild dogs, and raptors. As always, however, humans play a large roll in the population decline of these animals. They are sometimes illegally trapped or hunted for sport of for their fur. In Mexico, kit foxes are sometimes sold in the illegal pet trade. They are also sometimes hit by cars when crossing roads. Although their rating by the IUCN Redlist makes it seem as if there is no cause for concern, the future of this animal is uncertain, and they may become endangered in the near future.
Reproduction and young
Kit fox mating season starts in the middle of December and lasts through January or February. Breeding is a big deal for kit foxes; as early as September, the female will search for a suitable den. The males, who usually stay with their mate for life, find their mate again in October. After a gestation period of around 50 days, the females, sometimes called vixen, give birth to one to seven pups. They average four, though. The young stay in their den for their first four weeks and are able to eat meat after about four more weeks. Both the males and females help to raise their young. Within four months or less after birth the pups start hunting with their parents. Just two months later they are completely independent, though they sometimes stay with their parents until they are eight months old.
Both males and females are ready to mate by the time their first mating season comes around, but the females sometimes stay with their parents through this time. This helps give them experience raising young as they help raise their younger siblings. Kit foxes can live up to 12 years in captivity and an estimated 7 years in the wild.
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- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide*
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals of the World: An expert reference guide to 840 amphibians, reptiles and mammals from every continent*
- Kit fox – Public Domain
- Kit fox range – Public Domain
- Mystery animal – scorpious18