Crestone Eagle, November 2008:
Meet the fox: a small, omnivorous canid—& our wild neighbor
are 27 species of fox in the world, with 4 species of foxes
found in the state of Colorado. The gray fox (Urocyon
cinereoargenteus) is found in canyons and along foothills
in the state. The tiny swift fox (Vulpes velox) is
limited to the eastern plains of Colorado, and its near relative,
the kit fox (Vulpes macrotis), live in the semi-desert
shrub lands extending from Montrose to Grand Junction.
Here in Crestone, usually only the red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
is found, with anywhere from 35 to 50 of them living in our
area. The red fox also lives throughout the state, and they
are the most widespread foxes found around the world, being
on almost every continent.
Foxes are generally smaller than other members of the family
Canidae, such as wolves, jackals, and domestic dogs. Red and
gray foxes are 3’ long and weigh 9 to 11 pounds. Swift
and kit foxes are only 27” to 36” long; their
tails are as long as their bodies. They weigh 4 to 7 pounds.
On average male foxes (dogs) weigh about a pound more than
female foxes (vixens).
Most foxes live for only 2 to 3 years, but they can survive
for up to 10 years or so in captivity. Unlike most other canids,
foxes are usually not pack animals; typically they are solitary.
Foxes have a very keen sense of smell, excellent hearing,
and good vision. They can run at speeds of 30 mph and are
are opportunistic feeders that hunt live prey. They eat rodents,
grasshoppers, birds (especially chickens), and also different
fruit and berries. Foxes are known to cache their food, burying
the excess for later consumption. Unlike our local coyotes,
foxes are not as likely to take your pet cat, but if they
are hungry enough—they might. Like many of our other
local wildlife, if you are not careful, you will attract foxes
to your home. Garbage that is not securely stored provides
an easy meal for these scavengers.
All Coloradan foxes produce a single litter of young per
year. Gestation periods range from 7 to 8 weeks with litter
sizes averaging around four. A typical home range for a red
fox is five to ten square miles. Males travel farther than
females, but juveniles dispersing from their parents will
often travel the farthest. Adult red fox will typically stay
within a mile of their den while they are raising pups.
fox are active both day and night, but are most so at dawn
and dusk. They are very vocal, especially during the breeding
season. The most commonly misinterpreted sounds produced by
them are screeching yowls that can sound like a domestic cat
fight. Barking and yipping are also common. Although fox do
howl, the sound is quite different from coyote howling. Chances
are you’ve heard their howl and mistaken it for a funny-sounding
Foxes are extremely wary of humans and cannot be kept as
pets. However, they do adapt reasonably well to human presence.
If a red fox acts aggressively, it may be an indication that
it is sick. Any red fox that appears to be sick or is acting
aggressively should be reported to our local Division of Wildlife
office. Landowners wishing to shoot red fox need to be aware
of local and state laws. The hunting of red fox on public
land requires a Colorado small game license.
Editors note: Families of red fox live in the town of
Crestone and in the Baca, often close to residences. Be aware
of our furry little neighbors and help protect their habitat.
Young kits are especially vulnerable, and loose dogs present
a hazard to their safety.
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