The Mutant Black Fox of Sanitas

I was hiking down the Sanitas Valley Trail today and I brought my telephoto lens to try to capture the black fox that I’ve seen there the past few days. Our Sanitas fox is  black except for a small white tip on its tail. It also sports a variable frosting caused by the white tips of its guard hairs. …

sanitas-black-fox-1-shadowed

I’ve learned that black colored foxes (which are called silver foxes) are actually red foxes with a genetic mutation or “morph” (this coloration stuff gets pretty confusing; sometimes I think the biologists are just playing with us). The black morph results in a beautiful black coat which, unfortunately for the fox, is feared by the superstitious (‘Unlucky’ rare black fox spotted in Britain) and prized by people who still wear fur.

Here are some more facts about this Fox:

-The fox may have been humans first pet!

– The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a member of the Canidae family and is a part of the order Carnivora within the class of mammals. Members of the family are called ‘canids’ and include dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes, dingoes, jackals and African Wild Dogs.

– A male fox is called a ‘Dog’, a female fox is called a ‘Vixen’, a young fox is called either a ‘Kit’, ‘Pup’ or ‘Cub’. A group of foxes is called a ‘Skulk’

– Breeding occurs between late December and the end of March. Several different males may court a vixen. At that time, in courtship, they may perform a dance. Apparently the ‘fox-trot’ is modeled after it. After a bond is formed, the pair is monogamous. The gestation period last between 51-53 days, with most young being born between March and May.

– Young foxes disperse promptly on maturity (approx. 8–10 months).

– Red Foxes are omnivorous, eating whatever is available.

-Red Foxes are preyed on by coyotes, badgers, mountain lions, eagles, wolves and bears.

– Fox eyes are gold to yellow and have distinctive vertical-slit pupils, similar to those of domestic cats.

– The fox communicates with body language and a variety of vocalizations. Its vocal range is quite large and its noises vary from a distinctive three-yip “lost call” to a shriek reminiscent of a human scream. It also communicates with scent, marking food and territorial boundary lines with urine and faeces.

Here are two more photos that I took yesterday…

sanitas-black-fox-2-shadowedsanitas-black-fox-3-shadowed

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7 Responses to “The Mutant Black Fox of Sanitas”

  1. Suzanne Pierson Says:

    Hi Rich, fellow OSMP Trail Guide!
    I appreciate the info on the foxes. We were wondering why some folks call the young “pups” and others “cubs”. I’ve always thought of them as “kits”.

    Yesterday, from my gardening work, I jumped to the beginning of the Skunk Canyon Trail close to my home to investigate a “screaming” noise. I found a red fox literally vying for power, dodging, chasing… with a coyote. They finally crossed over to the NCAR field. There I saw the fox protect her den. I actually could see a kit that she nudged back into the bush. She continued her call as the coyote wiled away, often looking back over its shoulder.

    It’s great to live in Boulder where one can witness the Wild while gardening!

  2. Barb Says:

    Hi Rich,

    Thanks very much for including the Black Fox on your site. I had three sightings last week! One in which she was poised on a rock looking intently into the tall grass, then performed an approximate 4 foot vertical leap and came down on some prey (my husband guesses a rabbitt). She shook it in mouth like a dog with a rag doll. Lunch of some kind.

    Also, is there anything that can be done about the prolific, out-of-control off-leash dogs on Mt. Sanitas this year??! One dog chased Black Fox up the mountain while idiot owner stood on the trail laughing, stating, “I guess my dog has gotten his exercise of the day.”

    Also, thanks again for rescuing my cell phone.

  3. Ruckus on the Ridge « Tales from the Trails Says:

    […] some larger species like this Red Fox may show up for the festivities…   A Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Observes from the […]

  4. Jim Says:

    Saw one last night around 8:30 just above NCAR. Such a cool animal.

  5. richwolf Says:

    Thanks Jim. I spotted a black pup on Linden Road near Sanitas a few days ago. I’m not sure if it was a mutant or if it was too young to turn red. It ran off before I could get to my telephoto lens…drat!

  6. Porter Gertz Says:

    Is it ok if I link to this site from my site?

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