There are three species of fox in Arizona – the red fox, kit fox, and gray fox.
Of these, the 5 ½ to 9 pound gray fox with its rust, black, and grizzled coloring and black longitudinally striped tail is by far the most common, occurring wherever there are mountains, wooded country, and broken terrain.
The yellowish and paler red fox is of similar size (2-foot head and body with a 12 to 16 inch tail) but is uncommon in Arizona, occurring only in the northeast portions of the state. It can be differentiated from other fox by its white-tipped tail and black ears.
The 15 to 20 inch long kit fox (distribution shown on the right) has large, out-sized ears, a 9 to12 inch tail, and weighs less than 4 ½ pounds. This diminutive fox is pale gray or buff in color, with a black-tipped tail. It is most often seen at night in valleys and on sandy plains in the southwestern deserts. For all three species, the sexes are similar in size and pelage.
Gray fox are the most numerous and most often seen fox. They are regularly active during daylight hours and are found throughout the state. Kit fox prefer sandy areas and are almost exclusively nocturnal spending much of the day underground.
Hunting and Trapping History
Gray fox account for the majority the fox taken and trapped in Arizona. The red fox occur mostly on the Navajo Indian Reservation and their take is not documented by the state. Although kit foxes are remarkably easy to trap, their fur is of little value. Whatever the species, the annual take of about 3,500 fox by hunters, predator callers and trappers has been relatively stable in recent years and not a major source of mortality in the statewide fox population. Diseases such as rabies, distemper and other canine sickness as well as drought related factors control the fox population much more than any human related source of mortality.