FOX OF MAGELLAN - Origins, characteristics and photos!

Magellanic fox: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The Magellanic fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), also known as...

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The Magellanic fox (Lycalopex culpaeus), also known as the Magellanic wolf or Andean fox, is one of the largest canids that live in South America. Its population is distributed throughout the Andes, but is concentrated more in the Patagonia region, between Chile and Argentina. Want to know more about this typical Patagonian animal? So keep reading this PlanèteAnimal page to learn all about the origin, physical characteristics, behavior and reproduction of the Magellanic fox!


  • America
  • Argentina
  • Chile

Origin of the Magellanic fox

As we just mentioned in the introduction, the Magellanic fox is a species of fox native to western South America, whose population is distributed along the Andes Cordillera, the 'Equator at the southern end of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. It is the second largest canid living in this region, just after the maned wolf.

The first individual of this species, which would later be known as the Magellanic fox, was first described in 1782. Currently, the following six subspecies of Magellanic fox are recognized:

  • Lycalopex culpaeus smithersi
  • Lycalopex culpaeus andinus
  • Lycalopex culpaeus culpaeus
  • Lycalopex culpaeus reissii
  • Lycalopex culpaeus lycoides
  • Lycalopex culpaeus magellanicus

Physical characteristics of the Magellanic fox

If we compare this fox to other foxes in Latin America, it is a relatively large fox, whose body can measure between 60 and 103 centimeters, with a tail of 30 to 53 centimeters long. The average body weight of these canines generally ranges from 5 to 9 kilos, with the males being noticeably more robust than the females. It is also important to mention that the Magellanic foxes that live on the Big Island of Tierra del Fuego shared by Argentina and Chile, are generally much larger and more muscular. These individuals can weigh up to 14 kilos, notably surpassing other subspecies in terms of size and hardiness.

Their fur is relatively long and dense, becoming particularly thick during the winter.On their body, white or yellowish tones predominate, which mix with black in the region of the back. The ears, legs and head in turn show an intense reddish color. The tail has an even thicker coat, in which we see many grayish hairs with a black spot at the base and another at the tip. However, the Lycalopex culpaeus smithersi has an entirely reddish coat, which combines some black spots with various shades of red on its body.

Finally, there are some Magellanic foxes whose fur is completely yellowish or slightly brown, without gray or black hair on the outer layer. It is speculated that this characteristic stems from a genetic mutation that would also cause the fox's tail to be thinner and its appearance to be slimmer.

Behaviour of the Magellanic fox

The Magellanic fox maintains predominantly nocturnal habits, going hunting and feeding during the cold nights of the Andean regions, mainly when living near areas inhabited by humans.However, when living in more unspoiled areas isolated from urban centers, these foxes are also active at dusk.

In general, they are solitary animals that build their shelters inside hollow trunks or in caves. In their natural habitat, they generally move within a maximum radius of 10 km2.

As far as their feeding and hunting techniques are concerned, the Magellanic fox is an opportunistic carnivore. Its main prey are small to medium-sized mammals, such as hares, rabbits and other rodents. Finally, these animals can also catch birds, reptiles, eggs and consume certain fruits and berries to supplement their diet. In addition, thanks to their privileged size, Magellanic foxes can also hunt larger animals, such as guanacos. In times of food scarcity, mainly during winter, the Magellanic fox may also feed on carrion left behind by other predators, such as cougars.

Reproduction of the Magellanic fox

During the last weeks of winter, the male Magellanic fox begins to emit its characteristic call to attract females. The breeding season usually begins in August and lasts until the end of October. Magellanic foxes are generally monogamous and loyal to their mate, with whom they will hunt and stay together for up to six months to raise and protect their young.

Like all canids, Magellanic foxes are viviparous animals, meaning that fertilization and the development of the young take place in the womb of the mother. After mating, females experience a gestation period of 55-60 days, after which they give birth to a litter of 3-8 young in the shelter they share and protect with the male.

The males are actively involved in rearing the cubs and also take care of bringing food so that the female and her babies are well nourished and safe.From the third month of their life, the little ones begin to learn hunting techniques from their parents, with whom they will live together until the age of 9 or 10 months. They usually reach sexual maturity after completing their first year of life, when they are ready to find their mate.

Conservation status of the Magellanic fox

The Magellanic fox is currently classified as a species of "least concern" according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. Although its population is still abundant (especially in the Patagonia region), it has nevertheless experienced a significant reduction in recent decades.

It is therefore possible to find different states of conservation depending on the country or region where you are. For example, in Bolivia it is considered an endangered animal, while in Argentina it is a potentially vulnerable species, and in Chile there is not enough data on its population.

Magellan foxes don't have many natural predators besides the puma, but they have been hunted intensely in their territory for more than two centuries, and their habitat has been gradually reduced due to urbanization and human economic activities. It is hoped that with the expansion of national parks in the Andean countries, their population will achieve greater stability.

Magellan Fox Pictures

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