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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Carnivora · Canidae · Urocyon littoralis

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Urocyon littoralis

Island Gray Fox

Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Image of Urocyon littoralis
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Conservation Status: Critically Endangered.

Island Gray Foxes are thought to have arrived on three of the six California Channel Islands they now inhabit some 16,000 years ago, either by swimming or by rafting on floating debris. Humans, who first colonized the islands about 6,000 or so years after the foxes arrived, took them to three other islands. Island foxes are only one-half or two-thirds the size of mainland gray foxes. They eat everything from fruits and berries to mice, insects, and occasionally lizards and birds. They face few predators—golden eagles and red-tailed hawks occasionally prey on them—so the animals are less skittish and often active during the day. However, they face special challenges: inbreeding is high, competition with feral cats and exposure to canine diseases are hazards, and development on the islands threatens to limit their habitat and food supply.

Also known as:

Island Fox, Channel Island Fox


Average: 716 mm males; 689 mm females
Range: 625-716 mm males; 590-787 mm females


Average: 2 kg males; 1.9 kg females
Range: 1.6-2.5 kg males; 1.5-2.3 kg females


Baird, S.F., 1857 [1858].  Mammals. In Reports of explorations and surveys for a railroad route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean,  Beverly Tucker, Printer, Washington, D.C., 8 (part1):143, 757 pp.


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Distribution of Urocyon littoralis

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