Worth Defending: San Joaquin Kit Fox

San Joaquin Kit Fox

San Joaquin Kit Fox, © Kevin Schaefer / Minden PicturesFirst come the oversized, pointy ears poking out from the underground den. Shy and secretive, the endangered San Joaquin kit fox fully emerges only after thoroughly scoping out its surroundings. Then it’s instantly roaming, darting and leaping with its foot-long bushy tail flying behind it. 

Named for the San Joaquin Valley in California where they live—ranging from Kern County to Contra Costa County—San Joaquin kit foxes are nocturnal but also come out to play in the daytime in cooler weather. 

Weighing only about five pounds, these foxes are no match for coyotes and their other, larger canid cousins. To avoid becoming prey, they are always on the move. After either digging their own dens or taking over the homes of other animals, these foxes spend only a few days in a den before moving on to another—occupying more than 30 each year. In search of their own prey—rabbits, insects, kangaroo rats and mice—they bound through the grasslands, traveling an average of nine miles a day.

But with fewer than 7,000 left, the San Joaquin kit fox can’t outrun the habitat destruction, oil leasing, pesticides and climate change problems that are taking a toll. Only with continued protection will we prevent this peppy little fox from slipping into a hole from which they may never reappear.  –Sheila Headspeth

Making a Difference

Defenders of Wildlife’s California office works tirelessly to save San Joaquin kit fox habitat and helps to protect native grasslands in one of the fastest growing areas in the country.

Defenders’ alliance with the California Cattlemen’s Association and its California Rangeland Conservation Coalition is working to restore 13 million acres of rangelands in the Central Valley—1 million acres that are vital kit fox habitat.


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