DESCRIPTION: Has large, obvious ears, longish legs, and a bushy, black-tipped tail, which often extends almost horizontally behind its body. Soles of its feet are hairy, presumably to improve traction in sandy soil. Light bellied but otherwise almost uniformly pale gray in winter and tan in summer. The largest of the 8 subspecies of kit fox, an adult San Joaquin kit fox stands 22-30 cm (9-12 in) at the shoulder and averages about 51 cm (20 in) in body length; its tail adds another 30 cm (12 in). Fully grown, it weighs about 2.3 kg (5 lb). The smallest North American members of the Caned, or dog, family.
HABITAT: Desert and semiarid regions of the western United States and Mexico. Today they are seen in grasslands and other sparsely vegetated, shrubby habitats which allow easy mobility and good visibility of ground-dwelling prey species. Den sites are a crucial habitat requirement for San Joaquin kit foxes.
Present: The east side of the San Joaquin Valley, north of the Tehachpis, to Visalia in Tulare Country. Also the west side of the valley north to byron, and valleys of the interior Coast Ranges from the Cuyama Valley north to Soledad in Monterey County. It spans parts of 14 counties, of which three, Santa Clara, Monterey, and Santa Barbara, may not have been utilized historically.
THREATS AND/OR REASONS FOR DECLINE: Most of the native grasslands of the San Joaquin Valley were converted into irrigated cropland. Livestock grazing, mining, and later, residential and industrial development continued to reduce denning habitat and prey populations. Automobile traffic and predation by coyotes, dogs, and nonnative red foxes. Kit foxes also face threats from rodent-control programs and are sometimes shot, trapped, or poisoned. Also their inconspicuous dens can be inadvertently destroyed by development projects and off-highway vehicles.
Historic: Native to California's Centarl Valley and was once widely distributed on the valley floor and the adjacent low foothills of the San Joaquin Valley. The kit foxes range began near byron in Contra Costa County and stretched southward to the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains south of Bakersfield in Kern County .
OTHER INFORMATION: After being provided adequate prey, denning sites, and protection from predators, the foxes are apparently somewhat adaptable to human activities. They have been known to inhabit residential and agricultural areas, using drainpipes and culverts for dens.
Life on the Edge. Biosystems Books 1994. Santa Cruz, California