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Kit fox facts for kids

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Kit fox
San Joaquin kit fox male.jpg
Male San Joaquin kit fox
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Genus:
Vulpes
Species:
macrotis
Kit Fox area.png
Distribution of the kit fox
Synonyms
  • arizonensis Goldman, 1931
  • arsipus Elliot, 1904
  • devius Nelson and Goldman, 1909
  • muticus Merriam, 1902
  • neomexicanus Merriam, 1903
  • nevadensis Goldman, 1931
  • tenuirostris Nelson and Goldman, 1931
  • zinseri Benson, 1938

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. It has also been called an American Fennec fox due to its large ears.

Range

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.

Appearance

The kit fox is one of the smallest species of the family Canidae found in North America (except for specially bred domestic dog breeds like teacup Yorkshire.)

It has large ears, between 71 and 95 mm (2.8 and 3.7 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 lb). The body length is 455 to 535 mm (17.9 to 21.1 in). The tail adds another 250–340 mm (9.8–13.4 in) to its length.

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 yellow 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.

Diet

The kit fox is mostly a nocturnal 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, 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, cactus fruits and other fruits.

Different kit fox families can occupy the same hunting grounds, but do not generally go hunting at the same time.

Habitat

Kit foxes favor arid climates, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. 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 ft) above sea level.

Reproduction

The female Kit fox has a gestation period of 49 to 55 days. The 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 are 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 Californian study of 144 kit fox pups showed a 74% mortality rate in pups within the first year.

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