Have you ever seen a swift fox?
No? That might be because they’re so fast—they have been known to run at speeds up to 30 miles an hour—or perhaps that’s because they’re nocturnal and rarely make daytime appearances.
Unlike other foxes, they spend a lot of time in their dens and don’t like to change locations.
Once they find a home, such as an abandoned burrow made by another animal, they don’t relocate.
They are also among the smallest members of the fox family—about size of a domestic cat—between four and seven pounds, and only about three feet long from nose to tip of the tail.
Swift fox live in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, throughout the Great Plains region of North America, any place with open prairie lands and landscapes with level short-grass vegetation. They avoid places with tall grasses, dense vegetation and rough terrain.
They are very social creatures and keep one mate throughout their lifetime, yet they also avoid interacting with humans and other species.
Swift fox families enlarge during the winter months from December through February, and typically will have a litter of four to five kits that remain in their underground dens with their mothers until weaned a month or two after birth.
Often confused with the Kit Fox, which share a similar range, Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) are opportunistic feeders on small mammals such as prairie dogs, rabbits, squirrels, birds, insects, berries, vegetation and carrion. Scavenging roadkilled animals has often contributed to a number of swift fox deaths.
According to the United State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the species was removed from the federal list of candidate species in 2001.
Although swift foxes are not an endangered species, they are preyed upon by hawks, eagles and coyotes.
You can learn more about swift foxes by clicking here.
Photos Courtesy USFWS