Cape Fox

© Nigel J Dennis


Cape fox, Silver-backed fox (vulpes chama)


The Cape fox is the smallest canid and only true fox found in South Africa. Adults measure about 35 cm at the shoulder, are 94 cm in length and weigh only 2.5 to 3 kg. Its coat is silver-grey in colour and it has large, pointed ears and dark colouring around the mouth. This little fox is very nimble, its bushy tail serving as a counterbalance when running, swerving and dodging.

Cape Fox Diet

It preys on other small animals, insects and mice. Occasionally, the Cape fox will feed on carrion and wild fruit.

Cape Fox Breeding

Being a seasonal breeder, the Cape fox gives birth to 1 to 5 young in the early summer from October to November, after a gestation period of about 51 days.

Cape Fox Behaviour

The Cape fox is largely a nocturnal animal. Like other canids, it appears to be monogamous, although its social system is rather elusive and not well understood.

Where they are found

The Cape fox is widely distributed across South Africa, found in most parts of the Western and Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape (except the southeastern regions), the Free State, western and northwestern Kwa-Zulu Natal, the North West province and Lesotho.

Spoor Description

The fore-feet of the Cape fox have 5 toes, yet the first toe and claw do not stamp in the spoor. Its claws are about 15mm long, thin, curved and sharp. The hind feet have 4 toes and claws alike to the front feet’s.

Field Notes

The Cape fox is often killed on roads at night due to it being nocturnal. Many South African farmers regard them as vermin, believing they kill lambs. Such instances, however, have been minimal yet victimisation continues.

Vital Statistics

Breeding: 1 - 5 young are born from October - November after a gestation period of ± 2 months. The female has one pair of groin and 2 pairs of abdominal mammae.
Weight (Female): 2,5 kg
Weight (Male): 2,8 kg
Length (Female): 94 cm
Length (Male): 94 cm
Gestation Period: 52 days
No of Young: 1 - 5 pups
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae