What Is A Cross Fox?

Cross foxes are a unique variation of the common red fox found in North America’s northern regions.

They are created when a red fox morph mates with a silver fox morph, resulting in a partially melanistic color morph with a strip of dark fur down their back that crosses over their shoulders.

In this article, we will explore interesting facts about cross foxes and answer the question, what is a cross fox?

Even though they have the same behaviors as the common red fox, their unique color morph has designated their fur as an item of importance once worn by holy men and priests.

Cross Foxes Are Red Foxes With A Color Morph


Color morphs are a fascinating aspect of animal biology, and cross foxes are a prime example of this phenomenon.

A cross fox is the offspring of a red and silver fox morph. Occasionally, two silver foxes can also produce cross foxes.

Their partially melanistic coloration is caused by the distribution of dark pigments, or melanin, in their fur.

Color Morphs

You won’t believe the range of unique color variations that these crafty creatures possess!

Cross foxes have a standard mix of black, orange, and white colors but also come in gold and silver variations.

This is due to genetic mutations that cause partial melanism or reduced pigmentation.

These mutations can occur naturally or through breeding patterns between red and silver fox morphs.

The resulting population genetics reveal that cross foxes make up 25% of all red fox variations in North America.

The evolutionary history of cross-fox coloration is fascinating!

They were once thought to be a different species called Canis decussates, but research has shown that they are simply a variation of the common red fox.

Other color variations in red foxes are caused by recessive mutations as well.

It’s amazing how one small genetic mutation can lead to such beautiful diversity among animals!

Melanin Explanation

Did you know that melanin, the mutation responsible for the unique color variations in cross foxes, exists in many animals and species, even humans?

There are different types of melanin, but it’s a pigment that colors skin, hair, fur, and eyes.

Genetic mutations can cause an increase or decrease in melanin production, resulting in various colors.

Melanin plays an important role not only in fur coloration but also in animal protection.

The darker the fur or skin color is due to more melanin production, the more resistant it is to UV radiation and other environmental factors.

Some interesting facts about melanin include:

  • Melanin can also affect the immune system by protecting against harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Blue-eyed animals have less melanin than brown-eyed ones.
  • Birds use melanin to strengthen their beaks and feathers.
  • In humans, genetic disorders related to melanin production can cause albinism or hyperpigmentation.

Habitats and Behavior


If you ever come across a cross fox, you might find them living mainly in the northern regions of North America.

They prefer to live in habitats that include forests, wetlands, and fields where they can easily hunt their prey.

They have similar behaviors to common red foxes, including being crepuscular and nocturnal hunters and exhibiting social behavior with their family groups.

They typically create dens with multiple openings and sometimes have multiple dens for different seasons or purposes.

During winter, they may spend more time in their dens due to harsher weather conditions.

However, they’re still active during this time and continue hunting for food as needed.

Overall, cross foxes are adapted to survive in their unique habitats through seasonal adaptations and social behavior with their family groups.

Population Rarity

The rarity of cross-fox populations in North America highlights the importance of preserving their unique genetic traits and habitat.

These beautiful creatures live mainly in the northern regions of North America, where they face numerous challenges, such as limited habitat range, breeding habits that require specific conditions, and predator-prey relationships with large raptor birds and bears.

The population trends for cross foxes are concerning, as they’ve almost been eradicated from their native territories due to overhunting.

However, there’s hope for these magnificent animals.

Some breeds may have made it into Russia through fur farms and the pet fox industry.

Also, urban cross foxes are rarer but have been seen crossing roads and venturing close to town.

By protecting their habitats and encouraging responsible breeding practices, we can ensure the survival of these remarkable animals for generations to come.

Physical Description

Now, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to see when encountering one of these magnificent creatures in the wild – from their distinctive physical appearance to their unique behaviors.

Cross foxes may share many similarities with the common red fox but are easily distinguishable by their color genetics.

Their partially melanistic color morphs into a striking mix of black, orange, and white fur with gold and silver variations.

Besides their looks, cross foxes have several physical adaptations that help them survive in the wild.

They possess excellent hunting instincts that enable them to catch prey swiftly and efficiently.

They also have dens with multiple openings and sometimes multiple dens that protect them against predators such as large raptor birds or bears.

In addition, they have a lifespan similar to red foxes: 3-6 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity.

Unique Tail Characteristics

Like any other fox, the tail is essential to its body and behavior.

Cross foxes have a slightly bushier tail compared to common red foxes, and this adaptation helps them survive in colder regions by keeping them warm when they curl up during sleep or rest.

The tail also balances when running and jumping around, making it easier for them to catch prey or escape predators.

Aside from its physical function, the tail of a cross fox is also used for communication and grooming.

During hunting or mating season, they use their tails to signal other foxes or potential mates about their intentions.

They can twitch their tails rapidly when excited or wag them slowly when they want to show submission.

Cross foxes also groom themselves using their tails, licking and biting the fur to keep it clean and free from parasites.!

Variations and Mutations


You might be surprised to learn that there are various mutations and color variations in these fascinating creatures, adding to their unique and captivating nature.

Cross foxes are not just standard mixes of black, orange, and white; they also come in gold and silver variations.

Some of these color variations are caused by recessive mutations, which make them less common than the standard mix.

Genetic diversity plays a significant role in creating these different variations, as well as breeding habits and environmental factors.

Selective pressures such as predation from large raptor birds or bears also contribute to the survival of certain color morphs over others.

Silver foxes, for example, have more mutations than cross foxes and are almost entirely black with silver coloring.

Interestingly, some breeds of the cross fox may have made it into Russia through fur farms and the pet fox industry, where breeders aim to create new color morphs through selective breeding practices.

Young Cross Foxes

Cross foxes are much rarer than the typical red foxes that roam the wild since the percentage of these mutations is much lower.

They are created when a red fox mates with a silver fox.

They are believed to have a similar gestation period to their red fox counterparts, which typically takes around 49 to 58 days.

They usually have a light black or brown color when they are born.

Like any other red fox kit, their parents feed the cross foxes until they can fend for themselves.

Once they venture out of the den, their parents teach them how to forage and hunt for food.

Cross Fox vs. Red Fox


The difference between the cross fox and the common red fox lies in their partially melanistic color morph.

Cross foxes have a strip of dark fur down their back and across their shoulders that forms a ‘cross,’ along with slightly bushier tails.

While they have similar behaviors, cross foxes prefer forested areas over open fields, while red foxes can thrive in both environments.

Regarding hunting and diet, cross and red foxes are opportunistic predators that prey on small mammals like rodents, rabbits, birds, and insects.

While there may be some differences in habitat preferences and hunting tactics between the two species, they share many similarities in their diets and behavior as predators in North America’s northern regions.


What’s a cross fox?

A cross fox is a red fox with a partially melanistic color morph. They have a strip of dark fur down their back and across their shoulders that crosses, hence the name.

Their coloration is a mix of black, orange, and white with gold and silver variations.’

How rare is a cross fox?

Cross foxes are quite common, constituting about 25% of all red fox varieties in North America.

In Europe, cross foxes are less abundant. A study of 3,000 fox pelts in Finland showed that only a minuscule proportion of non-red foxes had the mutation.

So, while cross foxes may not be as common in Europe, they’re quite plentiful in North America.

Is the cross fox endangered?

Although the conservation status of the Vulpes vulpes species is Least Concern, the cross fox is still considered a rare animal due to its unique coloration.

Are there cross fox pets?

You can adopt or buy a cross fox from a breeder. The pet fox trade has expanded, offering more breeds to choose from.

How long do cross foxes live?

Cross foxes can live up to 14 years in captivity, but their lifespan is typically shorter in the wild, ranging from 3-6 years.

Incredible Cross Fox Facts!

You’ll be amazed at the incredible variety of color variations that cross foxes can have, from standard black, orange, and white mixes to stunning gold and silver hues.

These beautiful creatures result from cross-breeding between red fox morphs, resulting in their unique partially melanistic coloration.

But did you know that cross foxes were once hunted extensively for their fur?

Conservation efforts have helped bring their populations back from the brink of extinction.

Here are some other incredible facts about cross foxes:

  • Cross foxes are often associated with symbolism in Native American cultures, representing cleverness and adaptability.
  • Despite their beauty and unique coloring, large raptor birds and bears in northern territories still prey on cross foxes.
  • Contrary to popular myths, cross foxes are not different from red foxes but rather variations within the same species.


Cross foxes are fascinating creatures that have captivated humans for centuries.

They occur when a red and silver fox mate, resulting in a unique cross marking on their back.

Additionally, cross-fox fur holds cultural significance in certain societies. Overall, their rare genetic trait makes them truly special.

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