Kit Fox
Vulpes macrotis


distribution map of Vulpes macrotis and V. velox

Kit Fox Photo

Night-time picture of Vulpes macrotis. Photographer: Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles. © 1999 California Academy of Sciences.



Vulpes macrotis is commonly referred to as the Kit Fox. These small foxes, not much larger than a good-sized house cat, generally live in the open desert or dry grasslands (Alden et al. 1999). They often construct their dens in underground burrows in open areas (Burt and Grossenheider 1976). Their home ranges are usually anywhere from 1 to 2 square miles with considerable overlap and may be found in the open desert country of the Trans-Pecos. However, they are generally absent from mountainous or rocky areas (Davis and Schmidly 1994). While these animals have a preferred habitat, they have adapted quite nicely to human presence and plowed fields and fence rows, relying on speed and nearness to their dens for safety (Davis and Schmidly 1994).

A. Ruth Huckaby, Graduate Student, BIOL 5301-Natural History of the Chihuahuan Desert, June, 2006.


Huckaby Update: 22 Jun 2006


For a number of years, the Kit Fox (Vulpes macrotis) and Swift Fox (Vulpes velox) were considered to be separate species, differing somewhat in size and other characters. A later consensus, however, was that only one species is represented, with a zone of intergradation between subspecies at the western edge of the Great Plains. The map reflects this view. Vulpes velox has name priority and thus is the name used in the recent past. However, Mercure et al. (1993) indicate that the zone of hybridization is narrow and the animals to the west of the plains are best recognized as V. macrotis. We follow that scheme here.—ahh


Alden, P., B. Cassie, P. Friederici, J. D. W. Kahl, P. Leary, A. Leventer, and W. B. Zomlefer. 1999. National Audubon Society field guide to the southwestern states. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Burt, W. H., and R. P. Grossenheider. 1976. A field guide to the mammals. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.

Davis, W. B., and D. J. Schmidly. 1994. The mammals of Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife Press, Austin.

Mercure, A., K. Ralls, K. Koepfli, R. Wayne. 1993. Genetic subdivisions among small canids: mitochondrial DNA differentiation of swift, kit, and arctic foxes. Evolution, 47:1313–1328.

Web Resources

Animal Diversity Web.

Other LEB Resources

The skulls of Vulpes macrotis and the closely related Vulpes velox are compared.


Last Update: 26 Jul 2009