U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

Kids' Species Information

San Joaquin Kit Fox

San Joaquin Kit Fox: Vulpes macrotis mutica


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

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.


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


San Joaquin scrub and grasslands. See photo.


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.


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


San Joaquin kit fox with pups

Photo: USFWS

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


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.


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.

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Last updated: November 29, 2017