Canids are a member of the dog-like family called Canidae. Nine species of wild canids can be found in North America.
- Arctic fox
- Gray fox
- Gray wolf
- Island gray fox
- Kit fox
- Red fox
- Red wolf
- Swift fox
The canids found in North America are in four genera: Canis, Alope, Vulpes, and Urocyon.
Canids have been around since Eocene times. The larger species form large packs, with wolves sometimes having 30 members in a pack. These large packs allow them to hunt larger prey.
Smaller canids such as the different species of foxes are solitary and prey on smaller animals and birds.
Canids can be found in many different habitats in North America. The Arctic fox lives in glaciers, whereas kit foxes can be found in desert habitats.
Canids are active year-round and do not hibernate. They can be found living in caves, hollowed trees, and burrows.
Females give birth to their young once a year, with litter sizes ranging from 2-13.
If you want to know more about these fantastic animals, then please read on.
The Arctic fox lives in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. They live in the Arctic regions of North America, living in cold temperatures, and have adapted well to their surroundings.
They are small with a body length up to 68 cm and a weight of 3.5 kg, with females slightly smaller at 55 cm and 2.9 kg.
Arctic foxes have thick white fur in the winter, keeping them warm and camouflaged against the snow. They curl up to minimize heat loss, tucking their head and legs under their body and tail.
Arctic foxes live in dens, which helps minimize heat loss from the Arctic wind. The dens are southward facing to make the den warmer from the sun.
The arctic fox’s main diet is lemmings, although they will eat any small animals including hares, fish, birds, vole, along with bird eggs and carrion.
The coyote is a midsize canine with a domestic dog’s look and is thinner and smaller than the gray wolf. Their color is grayish-brown with a white underbody.
Coyotes measure about 1.5 m (including the tail) and weigh from 6.8 to 21 kg. Their lifespan ranges from ten to fourteen years in the wild and up to twenty-one years in captivity.
Coyotes are adaptable and have an extremely varied omnivorous diet. Their diet includes cactus fruits, flowers, insects, rodents, rabbits, birds, and reptiles.
They can be found in most habitats across North America.
The gray fox is a solitary fox that lives in the southern part of the United States and Mexico.
Their back has a scattered combination of light and dark gray with sides of reddish-brown and an underbody of white.
They measure from 76 to 112.5 cm and weigh from 3.6 to 7kg. Their lifespan is sixteen years in the wild and up to twenty years in captivity.
The gray fox is an omnivore and eats mice, birds, voles, rabbits, insects, corn, fruits, nuts, and berries.
They live in dense forests, in areas with rocky terrain or thick vegetation.
The gray wolf is a social canine that lives in the northern regions of North America.
The colors of the gray wolf vary a lot depending on their geographical location. They can be gray, brown, black, tan, or white. However, the predominant color is gray. The underbody is usually lighter and sometimes white.
Gray wolves measures from 1.05 to 1.60 m and weigh from 12 to 79.4 kg.
Gray wolves are carnivores eating a wide variety of meat. Gray wolves will eat deer, beavers, boar, mountain goats, bison, elk, moose, birds, fish, rodents, and hares.
They live in various habitats, including mountains, grasslands, forests, tundra, and deserts.
Their lifespan is six to thirteen years in the wild and seventeen years in captivity.
Island Gray Fox
The Island gray fox can be found on the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. They can be found on the six largest Channel Islands.
The Island gray fox can be found on Santa Cataline, San Clemente, San Miguel, San Nicholas, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa Islands.
The Island gray fox is smaller than the regular gray fox and is the smallest fox species in North America. They average between 59 to 79 cm long, which includes a tail length up to 29 cm. Their height is just 15 cm.
Island gray foxes live solitary, mostly nocturnal lives. They can also be seen during the day. They are good tree climbers.
Island gray foxes will leave urine and feces at boundaries around their territories to mark their territories from other gray foxes.
They feed mainly on fruits and insects, living on an omnivorous diet. They will also feed on birds and deer, mice, reptiles, snails, and human garbage. They will eat prickly pear cactus, sea-figs, manzanita, and berries.
The kit fox is a fox species found in the southwestern parts of the United States, located in Nevada, Utah, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern and central Mexico. These foxes are the smallest species of canids found in North America.
They are characterized by large ears, which helps them to keep their body temperature low. On average, they weigh between 1-6 to 2.7 kilograms and reach 455 to 535 mm in body length.
Their fur is generally gray, with their tail being tipped with black. These foxes are mostly nocturnal and carnivorous.
They hunt small animals like rats, rabbits, and some reptiles, such as lizards and snakes.
Kit foxes prefer arid climates like deserts, chaparral, and grasslands.
The red fox is a midsize fox that lives in the northern region of North America.
The color varies from light yellow to red, with dark legs and a white underbody. They measure from 45 to 90 cm and weigh from 2.2 to 14 kg. Their lifespan is between two to five years.
The red fox is an omnivore, eating grass, fruits, corn, apples, oak nuts, cherries, berries, mice, birds, rabbits, squirrels, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and crayfish.
The red fox lives in forests, grasslands, mountains, deserts, and suburban areas.
The red wolf is a canine native to the southeastern regions of the United States. Red wolfs are the product of an ancient genetic mixture between a wolf and a coyote, but they are regarded as unique.
They are listed as critically endangered animals by the Endangered Species Act.
Aggressive predator-control programs in the 1950s, along with habitat destruction, have caused these wolves almost to go extinct.
Red wolves are intermediate-sized between a coyote and a gray wolf. An adult individual would measure approximately 136 to 160 cm in body length and weigh around 23 to 39 kilograms.
Their pelage is reddish and sparsely furred. They are more sociable than coyotes.
Originally, red wolves extended throughout the southeastern United States, and today they are being reintroduced in the same area.
The swift fox is a small-sized fox found in the grasslands of the western regions of North America, including Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas in the United States and Manitoba in Canada.
They are approximately the size of a domestic cat, measuring about 70 cm in body length.
They became nearly extinct in the 1930s but were successfully reintroduced and are now becoming more common.
Swift foxes are omnivores eating fruit, grasses, and small mammals and insects. Their pelage is dark gray to brown across the body, while the fur becomes more yellow along the side and legs.
Swift foxes live between 3 to 6 years and are primarily nocturnal. During the day, they are usually confined to their den, which is dug underground.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.