U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Document Type


Date of this Version

February 2003


Published by Can. J. Zool. 81: 96-102 (2003).


We examined the ecological and physical characteristics of den sites for 13 adult kit fox (Vulpes macmtis) in western Utah from December 1998 to February 2001. We also compared current and historical den distribution among habitat types. The number of den sites used was not influenced by home-range size (P = 0.11) or season (P = 0.40), but was influenced by geographical area. Home-range size was smallest (P = 0.007) and the number of dens used was greatest (P = 0.009) in mountainous areas. Ecological and physical characteristics of single-use dens (n = 30) were compared with those of multiple-use (n = 53) and natal dens (n = 8). Characteristics that differed between den types included number of entrances (P = 0,0001). diameter of entrances (P = 0.003), and height of vegetation along transects (P = 0.0001). Natal den entrance azimuths were weighted towards a northwesterly aspect (P = 0.0022); however, single- and multiple use den exits appeared to be randomly distributed. Historical changes in kit fox den site selection have occurred since 1959 (P< 0.0001). We characterized more dens in invasive grasslands and fewer in greasewood (Sarcobarus vermiculatus) habitats than previously described. The conversion of native habitat to grassland and the increase in coyote population may have altered kit fox distribution to include mountainous areas not previously described.