Foxes draw a lot of attention due to their attractive color mutations and morphs. These things happen even among the same species. If you’re intrigued with their color variations, you’ll surely find a cross fox interesting.
What is a cross fox? Cross fox is a red fox (Vulpes vulpes with a melanistic color mutation. Due to melanin, dark strips of fur are found intersecting from its shoulders and running down to its back. This pattern and color are unusual, so many think cross foxes are exquisite.
Cross foxes behave more like red foxes. For example, both of them have the same gestation period of 49 to 58 days.
There’s no difference in how they raise their babies as parents feed the offspring that are still incapable of hunting. Then, they teach the youngsters to hunt when they’re ready to come out of their dens.
You may be curious about behavior, habitat, and many things related to a cross fox.
There’s more to learn aside from their similarities with red foxes and appearance. So, spare some time reading this article so you’ll be knowledgeable about this interesting species.
Table of Contents
What Does a Cross Fox Look Like?
The figure of a cross fox is similar to a red fox, but some people think that it’s a bit bigger than the latter. When it comes to measurement, the height of the cross fox is from 14 to 20 inches, while its length varies from 22 to 35 inches.
It has fur that shows the combination of red or orange and dark colors, but there are some hints of white hue.
The dark shade goes all the way to its back and tail as it crosses to its shoulders. This pattern forms red and orange spots.
With thicker fur on their feet, they can walk on snow and ice in Northern regions. This feature is also seen on Arctic foxes. Furthermore, the cross foxtail is bushier than the red fox with black fur and some hints of silver and orange.
This species has a white-tipped tail, like its parents, the red fox and the silver fox.
However, it can’t be avoided that there are color variations of the tail or some unexpected coloring. Fox mutation can happen to foxes in similar species, so unique fur colors exist.
The back and sides of this species are yellowish or reddish-brown. The ears, muzzle, and underpants of its legs are usually black.
A cross fox also has morphs or mutations. The standard cross fox displays the colors red, orange, and black. Moreover, it has a lighter color combination compared to the morphs.
One of the morphs is called ‘gold cross,’ darker than the standard one. The orange spot is enhanced into golden orange and even fire red. Once you see it, you’ll agree that this color intensity is rare.
The second morph of the cross fox is the ‘silver cross.’ It is black all over with orange cheeks and ears. Among the cross fox colors, it’s the rarest. But all of them have white-tipped tails. Some color variations of the cross have emerged because of recessive mutations.
Habitats and Behavior of a Cross Fox
The behavior of a cross fox is akin to the typical red fox. Cross foxes live in the northern regions, and they can withstand snow and cold weather. They sleep outside the wooded area and dig dens for their babies.
There are multiple openings on their dens located within its home range. They live near the river or mountains, tundra, forests, scrubs, deserts, and prairie.
Cross foxes are on the watch for bears, large raptor birds, and other animals that act as predators. They use their tails for communication, like warning others of imminent danger or showing that they buried food.
Those who dwell in urban areas are rare, but some see them venturing to a nearby town and crossing the street.
The cross foxes are omnivorous, and they feed on rabbits, rodents, spiders, worms, insects, birds, and small reptiles such as snakes and lizards. They also like fruits as well as carrion and trash.
Some of them may visit a poultry house when food is scarce. They can either hunt during the day or at night. When catching prey, they pin it down through thick vegetation.
Since cross foxes live in the north, they breed from February to April. Just like other foxes, they’re monogamous, but they tend to mate with others.
A human can gain the trust of a cross fox. Just like the story of Sam Gaby, a photographer who spent time in Newfoundland, Canada, for eight weeks. He was able to get near two cross foxes, and the animals appeared relaxed in his photos.
Where Do Cross Foxes Live?
Cross foxes live in North America, specifically in North America and Canada.
30% of red foxes in Canada have cross fox mutation. Unfortunately, the cross fox population in Utah, a state in the north of the USA, was wiped out due to the abuse of the fur trade. Some cross foxes are found in European areas like Finland and Scandinavia.
How Long Do Cross Foxes Live?
The life span of cross foxes is similar to red foxes. Cross foxes can live up to 14 years in captivity but only 3 to 6 years in the wild.
Are Cross Foxes Red Foxes With a Color Morph?
Cross foxes are red foxes with a color morph. They have the melanistic fur color variant.
What Is Melanin?
Melanin is the cause of color mutation in the skin. To be precise, it brings out the darker skin and hair color. The mutation brought by melanin happens among cross foxes, but it’s only partial because the dark pigment is combined with the lighter one.
One of the parents of the cross fox is a silver fox, and it has fur affected by melanin too.
The silver fox has more mutation than the cross fox since its whole body is black with scattered silver hairs.
Melanin occurs in several animals and even humans as well. It’s the opposite of albinism, a case that erases the dark hue of hair and skin.
In a study, melanin is present among mammals like the fox in 7 weeks of gestation period. That’s why you can see young cross foxes in brown or light black color when they are born.
As they grow older, they turn into the official color mutation of a cross fox.
Are There Cross Fox Pets?
Cross foxes that you can have as pets can either be found from rescue operations or fox breeders. Many types of foxes and even variations of cross foxes are bred as pets.
Are Cross Foxes Rare?
Cross foxes are not rare in North America. They represent 25% of the red fox population in the said continent.
But they are rare in Scandinavia and Finland, where only 1% of their population remains. There’s even a study conducted in Finland regarding the detrimental fur animal epidemic that includes foxes.
Facts About Cross Foxes
Here are some interesting facts about cross foxes:
- At first, biologists thought that cross foxes were not related to red foxes. They give it a scientific name: Canis decassatus. Later on, it was discovered that a cross fox is an outcome when a red fox mates with a silver fox.
- Since many are amazed by this cross fox, traders created similar species such as golden cross fox, cross white mark fox, silver cross fox, and pearl cross white mark fox. These designer foxes differ in size and length compared to the standard red fox.
- It’s common knowledge that cross foxes are originally from North America. But some cross fox breeds have been sent to Russia’s pet fox industry and fur farms.
- The value of the cross fox fur used to make coats depends on the darkness of its hue. Thus, lighter coats are cheaper than dark-colored ones. The cross fox fur is not as valuable as the silver fox’s, but its price is higher than the red fox’s.
- Cross foxes have a maximum speed of 21 mph.
Here is a video of more interesting facts about cross fox:
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Cross Foxes in America?
There are cross foxes in North America. They made up the 30% population of foxes in Canada. In the past, they were once plentiful in Utah and Idaho, but most of them were killed.
Is the Cross Fox Extinct?
It’s not extinct as it represents the 25% of foxes in North America along with other fox species. Cross foxes only became the main target of trappers and fur farms in the past when it wasn’t known to be related to the red fox.
Can You Own a Cross Fox?
A red fox and the several cross fox variations can be pets. However, there are things that you should learn before going through the necessary process.
For instance, some states in the US don’t allow private individuals to own a fox no matter what the breed is. Before taking a step, check the regulation of your area first.
You should also be aware of the cons of owning a cross fox or any other breed. Foxes can be loud and have high energy, so they need more space to dig, play, and run. You have to give it at least 10’ x 10’ room.
Doors and openings in your house should be secured enough not to allow your pet fox to escape. Foxes, including cross foxes, are curious about many things, so they can create a mess inside your house.
The ‘skunky’ urine is an example of a mess and struggles these animals cause. Pet fox owners struggle, but you can have an air purifier or deodorize using baking soda mixed with water. Aside from the things that were mentioned, you have to know about training and their dietary needs.
Cross fox is a cross between a red fox and a silver fox. However, the characteristics of the red fox are more prominent than the silver fox.
The two morphs of cross fox are called ‘gold cross’ and ‘silver cross.’ Due to its unique and nice color pattern, a cross fox inspired to create more similar species.
List of Sources
Rauschendorfer, J. (2017). Dissertations, Master’s Theses and Master’s Reports: Feasibility & Discovery Using Fox System to Generate Gain-Of-Function Mutations With Hybrid Poplars. Michigan Technological University.
Nordgren, H., et al. (2017). Questionnaire Survey of Detrimental Fur Animal Epidemic Necrotic Pyoderma in Finland. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Slominski, A., et al. (2007). Melanin Pigmentation in Mammalian Skin and Its Hormonal Regulation. Gettysburg College.