San Joaquin Kit Fox

Kids' Species Information

San Joaquin Kit Fox: Vulpes macrotis mutica

STATUS

Endangered. This means that the species is in danger of dying out. We are working hard to prevent this.

San Joaquin kit fox with tracking collar,

Photo: Carley Sweet, USFWS

DESCRIPTION

San Joaquin kit foxes are the smallest foxes in North America. They are about 51 cm long. (About 20 inches) This doesn't count their tails. They weigh a little over 2 kg. (About 5 pounds) They have long legs and large ears. Their coats range from tan to buffy gray in the summer. This changes to silvery gray in the winter.

FOOD

Small mammals such as mice, kangaroo rats, squirrels and rabbits. Ground-nesting birds. Insects.

HABITAT

San Joaquin kit fox with pups

Photo: USFWS

San Joaquin scrub and grasslands. See photo.

MATING

Kit foxes can breed when one year old. Adult pairs stay together all year.In the fall, females begin to clean and enlarge their pupping dens. The foxes mate between December and March.

Litters of two to six pups are born in February or March. Pups emerge from the den after about a month.

PREDATORS

Red foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, bobcats and large raptors.

RANGE

Most San Joquin kit foxes live on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

THREATS

Loss of habitat to farming and development. By 1979, only about 6.7% of the San Joaquin Valley's original wildlands south of Stanislaus County remained untilled and undeveloped.

Predation and competition from larger species such as the nonnative red fox.

MORE READING

Conover, A. August 2001. The little foxes. Smithsonian Magazine. 32(5):42.

San Joaquin Kit Fox (1 MB PDF) from the California Dept. of Pesticide Regulation. This publication is designed to help farmers avoid kit foxes. But it has lots of pictures and information.

Spiegel, L., R. Stafford, & C. Uptain. San Joaquin Kit Fox. In Life on the edge: a guide to California's endangered natural resources, edited by Carl Thelander. BioSystem Books. Pp. 86-89.

Visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Kid's Corner to learn more about endangered species.

Photo credits: Carley Sweet, FWS.

Words to Learn

Biologists call kit foxes Vulpes macrotis. Scientific names are in Latin or Greek.

The San Joaquin kit fox is a subspecies. So biologists add mutica. This makes the full name Vulpes macrotis mutica.

San Joaquin kit foxes are in the Canidae family, which includes dogs, wolves and foxes.