Fun Island Fox Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Island Fox Facts For Kids

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Did you know that there is a fox species that is endemic to California? If not, then you have arrived at the right place to learn about the island foxes that inhabit six of the eight California Channel Islands. The island fox is believed to have descended from the mainland gray fox. These foxes are small in size and are present in various habitats of the Channel Islands. The foxes can be found in six Channel Islands that include San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Cruz Island, San Clemente Island, and Santa Nicholas Island. The island of Santa Barbara doesn't have any population of island foxes. Besides feeding on insects and small mammals, the foxes also like to munch on fruits that grow on the islands. The fox can run quickly and effortlessly on rocky terrains while hunting for its food. Even though it is a wild animal, there are several instances where the fox has become friends with human beings.

Keep reading to know more island fox facts. Also, check out the articles on the gray fox and the bat-eared fox to know more about foxes.

Fun Island Fox Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Insects, deer mice, marine invertebrates, crabs, eggs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

2.2-6.2 lb (1-2.8 kg)

How long are they?

19–19.5 in (48–50 cm)

How tall are they?

4.5–6 in (12-15 cm)

What do they look like?

Gray-white with black and cinnamon

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, Common Ravens

What is their conservation status?

Near Threatened

Where you'll find them?

Valleys, Southern Coastal Oak Woodland, Southern Riparian Woodland, Island Woodland, Island Chaparral


Channel Islands Of California









Island Fox Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an island fox?

The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a type of gray fox, and it is considered a dwarfed form of the Urocyon cinereoargenteus, a mainland gray fox species.

What class of animal does an island fox belong to?

The island fox belongs to the class Mammalia and to the family Canidae.

How many island foxes are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the total island fox population is around 4,000. The San Nicolas island fox has the most stable population compared to other subspecies, and there are about 600-800 individuals present on the island. The population of San Clemente island foxes is around 1,100 individuals as of 2011.

The Santa Catalina island fox subspecies mainly inhabits the east end of the island, and in 2011, it had an estimated population of 1,500 foxes. The Santa Rosa island fox population has fluctuated a lot, but it stood at 450 odd foxes as per the last report. Similarly, in 2011, around 580 individual San Miguel island foxes and 1200 individual Santa Cruz island foxes were tracked. It is a good sign that the Channel Island fox population is certainly on the rise.

Where does an island fox live?

The channel island foxes are native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California present in the United States of America. No island fox population is seen on the Channel Islands of Santa Barbara Island and Anacapa Island.

What is an island fox's habitat?

On the individual islands, the foxes tend to inhabit different terrains. The common island fox habitat includes the valley, foothills, grasslands, coastal scrub or sage, island chaparral, coastal bluff, southern coastal oak woodland, sand dune areas, island woodland, pine forests, southern riparian woodland, as well as coastal marshes. Hence, the species has truly adapted to a southern California way of living in the California channel islands. The fox populations can also be found in artificial habitats.

Who do island foxes live with?

The Channel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is a solitary animal, and it has nocturnal behavior. It is mostly active at night time. Even though the island fox crosses paths with other fox species, it is seldom seen in living in a group. The island fox can only be seen together while mating. One of the interesting channel island fox facts is that some foxes have really taken to humans, and are kept as pets. Hence, some of the island foxes do have the quality of cohabiting with humans of the Channel Islands.

How long does an island fox live?

In the wild, the California island fox can live up to the age of between four and six years, but the island fox can live for about eight years when kept in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

January to April is the main breeding season for the island fox, but it may change according to its native island. The island fox forms monogamous mating pairs, which suggests that an adult fox pair will mate for life. After mating, the female island fox goes through a gestation period of 50-63 days and ends up giving birth to up to five pups. Before the pups take birth, the island foxes create a den either by digging the ground or preparing a tree's cavity. The island fox may even treat a human-made structure as a den. Rather than building its den, the fox prefers to use what is already available to it.

It takes the island fox pups about seven to nine weeks to get completely weaned from their mother. Around the months of May-June, the island fox babies emerge from the den and join in with their parents to forage for food. Most pups will become completely independent by September. The island fox attains sexual maturity around the age of ten months, and it starts breeding after a year after its birth.

What is their conservation status?

The overall conservation status of the channel island foxes, provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, is Near Threatened. However, the IUCN listed the fox as critically endangered in the past. The island fox populations of the subspecies tend to differ. All the island fox population is protected under the Channel Island Fox Conservation who gives the fox the status of being an endangered species.

The populations became endangered in the 1990s due to a huge surge in the presence of golden eagles. These birds aren't native to the Channel Islands, and as a predator species, the golden eagles used to hunt the island foxes. However, the introduced animals like bald eagles and feral pigs did help in putting an end to the reign of the predatory animals. Organizations are also participating in captive breeding to enhance the population of foxes. Captive breeding is a great solution as it includes bringing the fox into a space similar to its native habitat. The practice of captive breeding was made mandatory to preserve the endangered island fox.

Island Fox Fun Facts

What do island foxes look like?

Kids would love island fox facts.

The California native island foxes look quite similar to their mainland cousins, the gray fox. The coloration is pretty similar as it has a gray-white fur coat with black markings. The island foxes also have a cinnamon undercoat which is visible on the sides of its body. In contrast, the throat and chest of the fox are distinctly white. The tail is fluffy and big, but it is shorter than the tail of the gray fox as it lacks some vertebras. The dorsal side of the tail is usually marked with a long back stripe.

Molting of fur takes place once every year, and some subspecies like those living on the San Nicolas Island may even molt to have a more reddish color. Some physical characteristics vary between the six subspecies of the island fox. For instance, the Santa Cruz island fox tends to be the smallest in size and has short legs, while the foxes living in the San Miguel island are the second largest in size.

How cute are they?

The island fox (Urocyon littoralis) is extremely adorable, and the domesticated foxes tend to be quite docile. The Santa Cruz island fox is the cutest because of its small size.

How do they communicate?

Communication through vocalization is common in this native fox species. Growling and barking are the main forms of vocalization in the island fox. Along with that, the fox also spreads important messages through the use of urine and dropping, especially during the breeding season. The island fox can also flatten its ears to show submission. Visual cues and body language also play an important role om communication for the native island fox.

How big is an island fox?

The average island fox size of body length is 19–19.5 in (48–50 cm and the average shoulder height is 4.5–6 in (12-15 cm). An additional 4.5–11.5 in (11–29 cm) is added by the long and bushy tail, but it is shorter than that of a gray fox. The island fox can be about 18% smaller than the mainland gray fox that has an average height of 15 in and an average total body length of 40-44 in, including the tail.

How fast can an island fox run?

Not much is known about the exact speed of island foxes, but it can be assumed that it shares a similar speed with its ancestor species, the mainland gray fox. The mainland gray fox has a speed of 42 mph (68 kph). The fast-paced running capacity helps the foxes to hunt for their prey, even in uneven areas.

How much does an island fox weigh?

The average weight of island foxes is about 2.2-6.2 lb (1-2.8 kg). The male foxes tend to be slightly larger than the females.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male island fox is known as a dog, and the female fox is known as a vixen.

What would you call a baby island fox?

The baby island fox is known as a pup or a kit.

What do they eat?

Even though the island fox is placed in the order of Carnivora, the island fox diet tends to be omnivorous in nature. The fox species usually feeds on insects, deer mice, marine invertebrates, crabs, and eggs. The foxes eat other foods like lizards, amphibians, and land snails. The island fox also feeds on various types of fruits. You can even find the species scavenging on the beaches in search of food. The foxes will also happily eat human food.

Are they dangerous?

Even though the island fox may first behave aggressively at first, the wild fox subspecies are quite docile, especially to humans. However, as it is still a wild animal, it is always better to maintain a distance. Make sure to be safe if you want to approach the foxes.

Would they make a good pet?

The highly intelligent island fox is known to be a good pet. The island fox is often semi-domesticated, so it may still live in its native wild habitat. If the island fox pups have an early introduction to humans, then the animals can surely share a good relationship with fellow humans.

Did you know...

The six subspecies of island foxes include Urocyon littoralis littoralis of San Miguel Island, Urocyon littoralis santacruzae of Santa Cruz Island, Urocyon littoralis dickeyi of San Nicolas Island, Urocyon littoralis santarosae of Santa Rosa Island, Urocyon littoralis clementae of San Clemente Island, and Urocyon littoralis catalinae of Santa Catalina Island.

Apart from the California island fox, the golden island fox is another commonly found fox species.

Channel island fox predators include humans, the common raven, the golden eagle, and the bald eagle.

The foxes on Santa Catalina Island got endangered in the past because of an outbreak of canine distemper, a disease that domestic dogs may have introduced.

One of the adaptations of the island foxes is its ability to turn its front paws inward to get help at climbing, and this helps the foxes to hunt for bird eggs and fruit from tall trees.

What fruits do island foxes eat?

Some of the fruits eaten by the island foxes include manzanita, toyon, saltbush, prickly pear cactus fruits, ice plant, and the fruits of sea figs.

When are island foxes most active?

The peak time for activity is during dusk and dawn, but the island fox can also be seen during the daytime.

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 the fox and the fennec fox.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Island Fox coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>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.</p>

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