Pinto Basin Road Renovation
Pinto Basin Road is being renovated. On weekdays you may encounter travel delays of up to 30 minutes. Cholla Cactus Garden is closed on weekdays. Cottonwood Visitor Center hours are 9 to 4 on weekdays, 8 to 4 weekends. More »
Rattlesnake Canyon Will Remain Closed Through May
To provide additional time to mitigate the vandalism, Rattlesnake Canyon will remain completely closed to the public for another 30 days. More »
Desert Kit Fox
Once out of the den, the fox appears to move with a rapid “fox trot.” One was reliably clocked at 40 km/hr for a short distance when pursued. Kit foxes use smell much like other dog-family members. They mark their dens and trails with urine. They most probably orient themselves at night chiefly by smell. Outside of the breeding season, kit foxes lead a solitary life. They are not territorial, but avoid areas where another fox is present.
The vixen rarely leaves the den during the period of nursing. It is up to the father to do all the hunting for the pair, although he may not spend the daylight hours at the family den. He brings the food back whole, carried in his jaws.
Soon the pups are coming out of the den to play for several hours each day. By June they are weaned and both parents are bringing home the meat. Den changes are frequent during the summer when puppies are being fed. These moves may be necessary because of a buildup of fleas. At three to four months the pups begin to forage with the parents. At about five months they have attained adult weight and begin to develop the adult summer fur. The long glossy fur of winter develops in late summer and most foxes have a full winter coat by the end of October.
In October the pups head out away from their parents’ home range. Young foxes may travel long distances (30+ km) before settling down. They usually do not mate until they are 18 months old. Kit foxes have lived as long as 12 years in captivity, but probably no more than eight years in the wild. It is usually their teeth that give out first in old foxes.
The only predator known is the desert coyote, Canis latrans mearnsi, and such predation is apparently rare. Probably more foxes die as road kills. So, in order to protect the desert fox and other wildlife, drive slowly through the park—you’ll also see a lot more.
Did You Know?
In the high desert country that was to become Joshua Tree National Park, rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. William Keys and his family are particularly representative of the hard work and ingenuity it took to settle and prosper in the Mojave Desert. More...