It also lives in Manitoba,
Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada. It is closely
related to the kit fox and the two species are
sometimes known as subspecies of Vulpes velox
because hybrids of the two species occur naturally
where their ranges overlap.
The fur of the swift fox
consists of a thick undercoat sparsely covered with
longer guard hairs. The fur serves not only to keep
the fox warm through cold nights but also insulates
it from heat during the day. The soles of the kit
fox´s feet are also covered with hair to protect
them from hot desert sands. The coats are pale
yellow-beige and grey to blend in with the desert
grass. A pale underbelly, dark spots on either side
of its nose, and a black tail tip are also
characteristic. Like the arctic fox, the swift fox
has heavily pigmented eyes to protect them from the
Total length: Approximately 31 inches
of which its tail makes up about 11 inches and
stands about 12 inches tall at the shoulder.
Weight: 4 to 5.5 pounds.
The swift fox lives primarily in short-grass
prairies and deserts. They form their dens in sandy
soil on open prairies, in plowed fields, or along
fences. It is native to the Great Plains region of
North America, and its range extends north to the
central part of Alberta, Canada, and south to Texas.
It reaches from western Iowa to Colorado, Kansas,
Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana.
Like most canids, the swift fox is an omnivore, and
its diet includes rabbits, mice, ground squirrels,
birds, and insects as staples. Grasses and fruits
round out its diet. However, like any efficient
forager, the swift fox takes advantage of seasonal
foods. During the summer, adults eat large amounts
of insects, including beetles and grasshoppers, and
feed their young with larger prey items. Deer and
other carrion killed by other animals may also be
important food sources.
It is primarily nocturnal, spending only evenings
and nighttime above ground in the summer. Daytime
activities are usually confined to the den, but it
has been known to spend the warm midday period above
ground during the winter. The swift fox is more
heavily dependent on its den than most North
American canids, using them as shelter from
predators. These dens are usually underground
burrows that are 6 to 12 feet in length. It has been
known to run very fast, at speeds of over 30 mph or
up to 40 mph. The coyote is the swift fox's main
predator, but often chooses not to consume the swift
fox. Other predators include the badger, golden
eagle, and bobcat.
The swift fox has a dark, grayish, tan coloration that
extends to a yellowish tan color across its sides and
legs. The throat, chest, and belly range from pale
yellow to white in color. Its tail is black-tipped, and
it has black patches on its muzzle. Its ears are
noticeably large. It is about 12 inches in height, and
31 inches long, measuring from the head to the tip of
the tail, or about the size of a domestic cat. Its
weight ranges from around five to seven pounds. Males
and females are similar in appearance, although males
are slightly larger.
The adult swift fox's breeding season varies
with region. In the northern United States, it mates
between January and March with pups born in April and
early May. The male swift fox matures and may mate at
one year, while the female usually waits until her
second year before breeding. Adults live in pairs, and
although some individuals mate for life, others choose
different partners each year. Gestation takes around 50
days, and one to eight kits are born.
Pups develop quickly,
occasionally reaching sexual maturity within a year.
Swift fox pups are weaned by 6 or 7 weeks and emerge
from dens in June or early July. Adult size is generally
reached by early fall when pups are 4 to 5 months old.
Juvenile swift foxes disperse in
fall or winter. Juvenile swift foxes typically disperse
an average of 6 to 9 miles.
Unlike red foxes, breeding pairs
of swift foxes have been known to maintain contact with
each other all year round. Males have also been known to
occasionally mate with more than one female in one
The swift fox only has one
litter annually, but may occupy up to thirteen dens in
one year, moving because prey is scarce or because skin
parasites build up inside the den. Sometimes it makes
other burrows from other bigger animals, even though it
is completely capable of digging one on its own. Pups
are born in the den and typically remain there for
approximately one month. A newborn pup's eyes and ears
remain closed for ten to fifteen days, leaving it
dependent on the mother for food and protection during
this time. It is usually weaned around six or seven
weeks old and remains with its parents until fall.
Recent research has shown that social organization in
the swift fox is unusual among canids, since it is based
on the females. Females maintain territories at all
times, but males emigrate if the resident female is
killed or removed.
The swift fox usually lives 3–6
years, but may live up to 14 years in captivity.
Best Management Practices
Special Regulations Note
Portion of trapping
District 6 Open to Swift Fox.
November 1 - March 1 of the following year. Season will
close with 48 hours notice upon reaching the trapping
district quota, or on the season closure date, whichever
Limit: A person
may take and possess three (3) swift fox per season.
Swift Fox Quota:
harvest status information may be obtained by calling
1-800-711-8727 or 406-444-9557, 24 hours a day or the
FWP website. The toll free line and website are updated
by 1 p.m. (MST) every day.
Furbearer seasons will close in
48 hours when a species quota is reached or approached
prior to the end of the regular season .The F&W
Commission has authorized the department to initiate a
closure prior to reaching a quota when conditions or
circumstances indicate the quota may be reached within
the 48-hour closure notice period.
Trappers are required to personally report their
swiftfox harvest within 24 hours by calling the
statewide Fish, Wildlife & Parks reporting line at
1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877397-9453) or 406-444-0356 so that
FWP can monitor quota levels. Trappers are required to
provide: name, telephone number, ALS number, species,
date of harvest, trapping district, county, specific
location (legal description), and sex when reporting a
furbearer harvest. When reporting a furbearer harvest,
it is unlawful to subscribe to or make any statement
that is materially false.
Trappers are required to personally present the pelts of
swift fox for tagging to a designated Fish, Wildlife &
Parks (FWP) employee within ten (10) days after harvest.
Trappers are required to provide harvest registration
data for swift fox at the time the pelt is presented for
tagging. Trappers unable to comply with the pelt tagging
requirement due to special circumstances or the
unavailability of local FWP personnel must still report
their pelts within ten (10) days after harvest by
contacting a regional office to make arrangements for
tagging by FWP personnel. Pelts not presented or
reported to FWP personnel within ten (10) days of
harvest are subject to confiscation.
Skulls: You are
no longer required to turn in the skulls of swift fox.
Turning in the Lower
Jaw: Beginning in 2016 pelt tags will• not be
issued until hunters or trappers harvesting .a swift fox
have provided a cleaned and air dried complete (both
sides) lower jaw for aging Aging of harvested swift
foxes is important management information that is used
insetting harvest quotas Bring clean swift fox jaws
Before you bring in the lower jaw. of a swift fox please
remove as much flesh as possible You should also allow
the jaw to dry in the .open air. Do not use .a storage
or transport container made of plastic—use a paper bag
or cardboard box instead This will help prevent the jaw
from decaying The jaw will not be returned.