Scientific Name: Vulpes macrotis
Status: State Endangered
The kit fox is a small mammal of the Southwest desert weighing only about three to six pounds, making them about the size of a full-grown jackrabbit, and the smallest fox in North America. They closely resemble swift foxes found on the eastern plains of Colorado, but have larger ears and a more angular appearance. They have long, black-tipped, bushy tails, dark muzzles and a yellow-gray grizzled coat.
In Colorado, kit foxes live in the semi-desert shrub lands extending from Montrose to Grand Junction. The mammals can also be found in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, western Texas, Utah, southern Oregon and central Mexico.
Kit foxes occupy sparsely-covered, semi-desert shrublands of saltbrush, shadscale and greasewood. They spend most of their days in dens that are scattered around the landscape and which are very important for raising young and avoiding predators, such as coyote. Kit foxes generally live in small groups, digging clusters of dens with multiple entrances. The animals move from one den to another and emerge at night to hunt.
From studies in Colorado examining diets, the fox primarily prey on cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, white-tailed prairie dogs, rock squirrels and kangaroo rats, but will also eat birds, reptiles, and insects when prey is scarce.
Dens are scattered within their territories. Kit foxes are active year-round and mate sometime between December and February. Gestation lasts just under two months, and most litters contain four or five pups.
Endangered status: The kit fox is listed as endangered in Colorado, and is considered one of the state's most vulnerable mammal species. Conversion of the kit foxes' native grounds to agriculture and development usage has resulted in a loss of habitat. Predation by coyotes, road-kill, trapping, shooting and predator poisoning are the main causes of mortality for the foxes. Once a furbearer in Colorado, the kit fox has been protected since 1994.