Posted Jan 27, 2023 | By Alejandra Cerball

Island Fox: Found Nowhere Else on Earth

Want to see an island fox? Here’s how to plan your Channel Islands trip from Oxnard.

They’re cute, small and you don’t have to travel far from Oxnard to see one. We’re talking about the island fox, a descendant of the mainland gray fox. According to the National Park Service, they live on six of the eight Channel Islands and are found nowhere else on earth.

Want to see an island fox?
Here’s how to plan your trip from Oxnard.

Santa Cruz Island Fox

Plan Your Trip To See An Island Fox

To get to the Channel Islands from Oxnard, hop on board an Island Packers cruise. Boats leave Channel Islands Harbor, and travel time varies between one and three hours. The park is open 24 hours a day and has no entrance fee.

Backcountry camping is available but recommended for experienced backpackers and kayakers. Check out more details here. There are no hotels or restaurants on the islands.

Activities on the islands include hiking, kayaking, diving, bird-watching, swimming and whale-watching. Visit Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands to see the island fox.

What to do at Channel Islands National Park.

Island Fox Facts

  • Island foxes are active during daylight hours, with peak activity occurring at dusk and dawn.
  • It is the only carnivore unique to California.
  • It is the largest native terrestrial mammal on the Channel Islands.
  • A different subspecies occurs on each of the islands. San Miguel Island foxes have shorter tails due to one less tail vertebra and longer noses than the other island foxes.
  • Males are slightly larger than females.
  • Island foxes weigh 2.5-6 lbs.
  • Fox pairs mate for life.
  • They prefer shrubby or wooded areas such as chaparral, coastal scrub and oak woodlands.

What do Channel Island Foxes eat?

On Santa Rosa Island, they eat deer mice, Jerusalem crickets, beetles, and earwigs. On other Channel Islands, they eat fruits from cactus, manzanita, saltbushes and sea figs, insects, and deer mice.

How big is an Island Fox?

The island fox is the smallest fox species in North America. They are 6.5 - 8 inches high at the shoulder and are 23-27 inches long (including the tail).

On average, foxes are largest on Santa Catalina and smallest on Santa Cruz.

Are Island Foxes endangered?

The Santa Cruz Island fox roamed the island free from predators—until golden eagles from the mainland began nesting on the island in the 1990s. Island foxes were considered a U.S. Endangered Species on four islands: San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands from 2004 thru 2016.

In August 2016, they were removed from the Endangered Species list. In 2020, all wild populations were stable.

How did the Island Fox get the islands?

Chumash native people brought the island foxes to the southern Channel Islands of Santa Catalina, San Nicolas, and San Clemente. They traded with the Gabrielino people of the southern islands.

The Chumash considered the fox a sacred animal--a pet of the sun, and possibly a dream helper. The island Chumash performed a fox dance and probably used the pelts of foxes to make arrow quivers, capes, and headdresses.

Channel Islands National Park

About the Author:

Alejandra Cerball (Journalist | Travel Writer)

Alejandra Cerball is an award-winning journalist, writer, and editor of, a Travel + Lifestyle online destination filled with compelling and honest travel tips + resources. On her blog, Alex shares inspiration for your bucket list, family travel + adventure itineraries, and style guides to help you pack for your next trip.

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