Fun Hoary Fox Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 05, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Nov 09, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Here are interesting hoary fox facts that'll amaze you!

Did you know that apart from true foxes, there are canids that are more closely related to jackals and wolves and yet are called foxes?

One such not-so-true fox is the hoary fox (Lycalopex vetulus). Also called hoary zorro, it is a canid species native to Brazil.

The hoary foxes belong to the genus Lycalopex, a group consisting of South American foxes. Also known as zorro in Spanish and raposa in Portuguese, these South American foxes are unique in not being true foxes.

In fact, they are more closely related to the jackals and wolves and less to members of the genus Vulpes that constitute the true foxes.

The hoary fox range is limited to south-central and southwestern Brazil, where these animals inhabit the Cerrado, an extensive tropical savannah region spanning the states of Minas Gerais, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, and the Federal District.

The species is characterized by a gray and cream-colored body, reddish legs and ears, small teeth, and a short muzzle. A prominent dark stripe runs along the dorsal (upper) body surface and the tip of the tail.

Hoary foxes are quite small and are similar in size and appearance to the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous), another South American canid species not closely related to true foxes.

Unlike the food habits of most other foxes, hoary foxes have a diet comprising mostly insects, fruits, small birds, and rodents.

Members of the species have small teeth, which are ideal for a diet consisting of small prey. However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the hoary fox as a Near Threatened species.

Hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation, farming, and developmental activities are cited as the major threats to the species' declining population status.

Read on to discover all about the hoary fox lifestyle, diet, habits, and much more! You can also enrich your knowledge about the animal world with facts about the waterbuck and red squirrel.

Hoary Fox Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a hoary fox?

The hoary fox (Lycalopex vetulus) or hoary zorro is a canid species closely related to the wolves and jackals. Even though it is called a fox, the hoary fox is not a true fox. Like true foxes, the hoary fox belongs to the order Carnivora and the family Canidae.

What class of animal does a hoary fox belong to?

Hoary foxes belong to the class of mammals.

How many hoary foxes are there in the world?

As per the latest assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, there are between 9,840-19,200 hoary foxes left globally.

Where does a hoary fox live?

The hoary fox is a Brazilian carnivore with a distribution limited to the savannah ecosystem of Brazil called Cerrado. The species is particularly found in the southwestern and south-central parts of Brazil.

Even though the Cerrado covers several states in Brazil, the hoary foxes have not been recorded from all. The current distribution range of the species may include western and northeastern São Paulo, middle-eastern Maranhão, northern Piauí, Mato Grosso, Mato Gross do Sul, Goiás, Tocantins, southern Rondônia, central-western Minas Gerais, southwestern Bahia, and Distrito Federal.

Since traditional identification is based on color patterns, reliable spotting of the species is hampered due to its similarity with the Pampas fox (Lycalopex gymnocercus) and the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous).

While the Pampas fox occupies the southern regions of the hoary fox's distribution, the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) is sympatric (species occurring in the same place at the same time) with the hoary fox's habitat range.

What is a hoary fox's habitat?

The hoary fox of Brazil inhabits the Brazilian savannah ecosystem known as Cerrado. In the Cerrado, the species occupies bushlands, open woodlands, and savannahs that may have scattered trees.

Who does hoary fox live with?

Hoary foxes are solitary animals, except during the breeding season. The species exhibits predominantly nocturnal habits and are reported to den in armadillo burrows.

How long does a hoary fox live?

There is no record of the hoary fox lifespan.

How do they reproduce?

Like many other fox species, the hoary foxes are monogamous, that is, they have one mating partner for life. The males and females are believed to breed once a year.

The breeding season occurs during early fall and the gestation period lasts for about 60 days. After the gestation period is over, a female hoary fox gives birth to two to four offspring in a den.

The females are known to den in abandoned armadillo burrows to give birth and rear their offspring.

Information is scarce as to what degree the male and female parents are dedicated to taking care of their young after birth. The female provides her young ones with milk and protection, and since the species is monogamous, the male parent is likely to have a role in taking care of the young.

What is their conservation status?

As per the latest assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the hoary fox of Brazil is a Near Threatened species.

Hoary Fox Fun Facts

What does a hoary fox look like?

Hoary foxes are small in size. While the upper part of the body is covered in grayish fur, the undersides are paler, usually cream-colored.

The term hoary actually means a silvery or white color, referring to the white hairs in the gray fur coat of the animals. The foxes have a short muzzle, and a dark stripe runs along the upper surface of the body.

In the male animals, the dark stripe extends all the way along the back and up to the nape of the neck. The tip of the tail is black. The limbs are slender, and the fur is short.

The lower jaw is black, whereas the ears and the outer portions of the legs are tawny or reddish. The tail is moderately long and bushy.

The hoary fox resembles the crab-eating fox to a large extent, except that the latter's fur is predominantly grayish-brown with a black-tipped bushy tail. The males are slightly larger than the females.

Facts about reddish legs and ears hoary fox

We've been unable to source an image of a hoary fox and have used an image of a red fox instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a hoary fox, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How cute are they?

Although the hoary fox is a small and furry animal, it does not quite fit the definition of cute.

How do they communicate?

No information is available as to how the hoary foxes communicate. It may be considered that the hoary fox communicates in manners similar to other fox species, which includes yelps, screams, squeals, growls, and short barks. Foxes are also known to urinate at various spots to make scent stations to communicate with their own kind.

How big is a hoary fox?

The hoary fox size can range between 23-25 in (58.4-63.5 cm) in terms of body length. The tail adds another 11.8 in (30 cm) or so. The hoary fox is similar in size to the crab-eating fox and significantly smaller than the red fox found in Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of North Africa.

How fast can a hoary fox move?

The small size and slender build of the hoary fox make it a lively and fast-running animal. An estimate of its running speed is not available.

How much does a hoary fox weigh?

The average body weight of an adult hoary fox can range between 5.9-8.8 lb (2.7-4 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

In general, a male fox is called a tod or dog, and a female fox is called a vixen.

What would you call a baby hoary fox?

Hoary fox babies are called kits or cubs.

What do they eat?

The hoary fox diet is omnivorous and consists of insects, fruits, and small animals. The fox's small and weak teeth do not allow it to take a diet of large prey.

Hence, its food comprises fruits and small insects such as termites, dung beetles, and grasshoppers. The diet varies with the season and may also include small birds and rodents. The hoary fox's teeth structure is ideal for crushing insects.

Are they poisonous?

Hoary foxes are not known to be poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

The hoary fox is a wild animal and should be left to live a free life in its natural habitat. Besides, the hoary fox's Near Threatened status and decreasing natural population calls for every effort aimed at increasing their abundance in the wild rather than exploit for pleasure.

Did you know...

Oldfield Thomas established the genus Dusicyon in 1914 and included the zorros in it. A reclassification was done in 1975 by Langguth, which included the zorros in Lycalopex.

In Brazil, the hoary fox is called raposinha-do-campo. The Portuguese meaning of raposinha-do-campo is meadow fox.

The vampire bat is a common parasite of the hoary fox. The bat simply feeds on the animal's blood and does not quite kill it. Hence, it is not a predator in the truest sense.

The hoary fox is a carrier of diseases that may be transmitted to humans and domestic dogs.

Other than the hoary fox and the South American gray fox, other members of the genus Lycalopex include the Andean fox, Darwin's fox, the Sechuran fox, and the Pampas fox.

A group of foxes is called a leash or skulk.

What is special about a fox?

The fox is one of the most interesting animals on Earth. Although it belongs to the dog family Canidae, the fox has a lot in common with cats. They are the only kind of dogs capable of retracting their claws, just like cats do. Also, foxes have vertical pupils (like cats) in contrast to the rounded ones dogs have.

Foxes are widespread can be found in a wide variety of habitats. For instance, the fennec fox inhabits the hot deserts of Africa, and the Arctic fox lives in the Arctic tundra biome.

Fox pups are born altricial, which means that the babies are not fully developed at birth. They are blind, cannot hear or walk, and are taken care of by the parents until capable.

What are the 12 true foxes?

There are 12 species of true foxes, all represented by the genus Vulpes. These are:

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

The Bengal fox (Vulpes bengalensis)

The Rüppell's fox (Vulpes rueppellii)

The kit fox (Vulpes macrotis)

The swift fox (Vulpes velox)

The Tibetan sand fox (Vulpes ferrilata)

The Corsac fox (Vulpes corsac)

The Cape fox (Vulpes chama)

The Blanford's fox (Vulpes cana)

The pale fox (Vulpes pallida)

The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda)

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus)

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including takin facts and flying squirrel facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable fox coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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