Kit foxes are the smallest foxes found in North America. They have large ears, that help them lower their body temperature and give them an exceptional hearing. Their coat is usually gray, with rusty tones, and a black tip to their tail. Their color ranges from yellowish to gray, and the back is usually darker than the majority of the coat; the belly and inner ears are usually lighter. Kit foxes have distinct dark patches around the nose. Males in this species are slightly larger than females.
Kit foxes are found in the Southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. The northernmost part of their range is the arid interior of Oregon. The eastern limit is southwestern Colorado. Kit foxes can be found south through Nevada, Utah, southeastern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and into western Texas. They prefer arid climates, such as desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands. They can also be found in urban and agricultural areas.
Kit foxes are mostly nocturnal but sometimes venture out of their den during the day. They usually go out to hunt shortly after sunset. Different Kit fox families can occupy the same hunting grounds but do not generally go hunting at the same time. These foxes prefer to live in underground burrows in pairs or small family groups.
Kit foxes are primarily carnivorous and hunt on small animals such as kangaroo rats, Cottontail rabbits, Black-tailed jackrabbits, Meadow voles, hares, Prairie dogs, insects, lizards, snakes, fish, and ground-dwelling birds. They will scavenge carrion. If food is scarce, Kit foxes may eat tomatoes, cactus fruits, and other fruits.
Kit foxes are monogamous forming pairs for life. These pairs mate during October and November. However, these animals can also be polygynous and pairs can change year to year. These mate from December to February, when they use larger family dens. Litters are born throughout March and April, usually containing 1 to 7 kits and average 4 kits. The gestation is 49 to 55 days. Kits do not leave the den until they are 4 weeks old. They are weaned after about 8 weeks and become independent at 5 to 6 months old. They become sexually mature at 10 months. Both parents take part in raising and protecting their young.
The loss of habitat is the main threat to these animals. Their habitat is used for agriculture, fragmentation, and degradation due to industrial and urban development.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Kit fox total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Kit foxes play an important role as predators in the ecosystems they inhabit by controlling populations of small mammals, insects, birds, and reptiles. Due to their habit of moving from den to den when Kit foxes search for a mate and food, their old dens are taken over by other animals. As scavengers, these small foxes also play a very important role in biodegradation.