Tag Archives: Rita Blanca National Grassland

The Swift Fox

The swift fox is small, weighing only five to seven pounds fully grown and gets it name from its ability to run up to 30 mph. There is some confusion about its relationship to the kit fox, which is slightly smaller, but is almost identical in appearance. Some mammalogists consider them to be separate species, while others consider the kit fox to be a subspecies of the swift fox. To add to the confusion, the term “kit fox” is used to describe the young of any fox species. The swift fox inhabits the Great Plains region from the Texas panhandle northward into Canada, while the kit fox, resides in the desert southwest.

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Adult swift fox, on the left, and young which are born in March and April and remain with parents until fall.
All of these swift fox photos are of the same family group photographed near their den on the Rita Blanca National Grassland in the northwest corner of the Texas panhandle.
These interesting and beautiful animals were close to extinction in the 1930's due to predator control efforts aimed at wolves and coyotes.
These interesting and beautiful animals were near extinction in the 1930’s due to predator control efforts aimed at wolves and coyotes. They have since recovered nicely and are no longer threatened.
Siblings engaging in a little playful fighting.
Siblings engaging in a little playful fighting.
Unlike most foxes, swift foxes use dens year-round. The dens have several openings, making it easier to escape coyotes, their primary predator, by diving underground.
Unlike most foxes, swift foxes use dens year-round. The dens have several openings, making it easier to escape coyotes, their primary predator, by diving underground.
They are primarily nocturnal, particularly in hot weather, when they may leave their dens only in the evening and return in early morning. In cooler weather they may exit their dens for short periods during the day. They often stretch after exiting their dens as shown in this photo.
They are primarily nocturnal, particularly in hot weather, when they may leave their dens only in the evening and return in early morning. In cooler weather they may exit their dens for short periods during the day. They often stretch after exiting their dens as shown in this photo.
Swift foxes are omnivorous and will eat small mammals, birds, insects, lizards, grasses and fruits.
Swift foxes are omnivorous and will eat small mammals, birds, insects, lizards, grass and berries.
Swift fox pups are born in March or April and stay with their parents until fall.
Swift fox pups are born in March or April and stay with their parents until fall. The warm color in several of these photos results from late afternoon light. This and the preceding images were made on October 8th, 2015, this one just before sunset.
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Swift foxes have very large ears and have excellent night vision. This and the following photos were made mid to late afternoon on October 9th, 2015.
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Even though they have sharp teeth and are themselves predators, they sometimes become prey of larger predators like coyotes, which usually don’t eat them, but probably kill them because they compete for much of the same food.
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Swift foxes usually mate for life, but only live three to six years in the wild. They have been known to live up to 14 years in captivity.

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Stretching And Yawning

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