Cape Fox


Cape Fox, Silver-backed Fox [Vulpes chama]


The only true fox and the smallest canid found in South Africa. The Cape Fox is silver-grey in colour with large pointed ears. They have a dark colouring around the mouth. Adults measure 350 mm at the shoulders and have a weight of 2.5-3 kg. Remarkably agile, especially since the bushy tail serves as a counterbalance when dodging and weaving.


The Cape Fox preys on insects, mice and other small animals. They occasionally ingest wild fruit and carrion in farming areas.


The Cape Fox is a seasonal breeder, giving birth in the early summer to between one and 5 young, after a gestation period of 51-52 days.
©Nigel Dennis


The Cape Fox is mainly nocturnal. Its social system is not well understood but it would appear to be monogamous, like other canids.

Where they are found

Inhabits mainly open country, from open grassland plains with scattered thickets to semi-desert scrub, and also extending into fynbos. Associated strongly with the fringes of water pans.

Widespread in South Africa, the Cape Fox occurs in most parts of the Western and Northern Cape provinces, the Eastern Cape (excluding the south-eastern side) the Free State, western and north-western KwaZulu-Natal and the North-West province. Also occurring in Lesotho.

©Shem Compion


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.

Vital Statistics

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

Spoor Description

Has 5 toes on the fore-feet, but the first toe and claw do not mark in the spoor. Has 4 toes on the hind-feet. The claws on the front feet are thin, sharp and curved, about 15 mm in length across the curve. Those on the hind-feet are the same shape and about the same length.
©Shem Compion

Field Notes

Due to its nocturnal habits the Cape Fox is often killed on roads at night and is still considered vermin by many farmers in South Africa due to the belief that they kill lambs. Although been known to feed on newborn lambs the incidents of this are minimal but they are still persecuted.
Kruger National Park - South African Safari