IUCN threat status:

Near Threatened (NT)

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Biology

Island foxes are primarily monogamous and mate for life, with a pair sharing a territory until one member of the pair dies. However, while they are socially monogamous, both members of the pair may mate with other adults (7). Most breeding occurs in late February and early March, and 50 to 53 days after mating, the female, or vixen, gives birth to a litter of one to five (usually two to three) kits. Born in the protection of a den, the pups are blind and helpless at birth. The kits emerge from the den at three to four weeks of age and soon begin foraging for food with their parents (4). By late September the kits are independent, and before long, they disperse to their own territory, provided there is a vacant territory and an available mate (7). At around one year of age the young foxes begin to breed. Island foxes have an average life span of four to six years (4). Island foxes communicate through sight, sound and smell. Vocal communication involves barking and sometimes growling, and signs of dominance or submission are frequently made through facial expressions and body posture. A keen sense of smell plays an important role in the marking of territories, which are scent-marked by urine and faeces, conspicuously positioned on well-traveled paths (4). This species of fox forages primarily at night, but is also active during the day (2). The island fox feeds on an incredibly wide variety of insects, vertebrates, fruits, and terrestrial molluscs, with the proportions of the diet depending on where the fox lives and the time of year (2) (4).

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