Darla Vongkhamchanh
Animal Life 1307
June 23, 2001

                                                                            Swift Fox (Vulpes Velox)

     A member of the canid family, the swift fox (vulpes velox), has ancestral relations to the coyotes, dogs, wolves and other foxes.  the swift fox can be distinguished from other foxes from its small size, black spot on each side of its nose, and black-tipped tail characteristics.  The swift fox was named for its fast speed and has been clocked for more then 60 km/h, although the smaller the fox the faster the movement illusion it portrays.
     The swift fox is an endangered species and has just recently emerged back into the United States and Canadian grounds.  At one point they were they almost totally disappeared from Canada.  Now, although still endangered, they have learned to adapt in this harmful environment and are not as endangered as they used to be.   The swift fox is described as the most cunning in comparison to other foxes of the wild. Due to their curious nature and ready attraction to bait they are easy prays to be caught and poisoned. This is an enormous contribution to them being endangered.  They like to live in grassland and prairies of which they can roam.  The swift fox is a curious animal and therefore have little fear of people so they are killed easily. In the early 1900s, hundreds were destroyed accidentally during predator control programs aimed at removing wolves, coyotes and ground squirrels from the prairies.  Many people mistaken them for young coyotes and killed them.  The habitat loss of their agriculture, industrial and urban development also reduced their numbers.
    The swift fox hunts continually from dusk to dawn, covering great distances each night. They are carnivores and eat mice, cotton tail rabbits, and careens, also small mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians are eaten.  The swift fox is an animal that is expected to eat what they are able to catch because they do live in the wild.  They hunt for themselves and so are expected to be fast to be capable of catching thier prey.
    Like the canid, dog, the fox is not scared of people, ironically it should because it is a small animal that does look like coyotes.  Humans are scared of animals which they are not familiar with so it is easily killed.  Now that people are becoming familiar with the swift fox there is more knowledge illustrating that they are endangered there should be laws to help keep them protected.  Slowly after the disappearance of the swift fox they are now returning to their original habitats.  The programs in Canada and United States are focusing on keeping the swift fox from being endangered.  The Swift Fox National Recovery Plan identifies habitat protection as a critical component to achieving a viable, self-sustaining population of swift foxes in Canada.  Habitat protection guidelines have been developed and utilized when responding to various industrial applications occurring in swift fox habitat on public land.  There is much need to develop a comprehensive habitat protection strategy that includes biologically sound site-specific as well as ecosystem mitigation techniques to help ensure their survival.
    The swift fox are adaptive animals by changing thier characteristics in different times of the season. For instance, during the winter time, the fur is long and dense, mainly buff-grey on the head, back, and upper surface of the tail and orange-tan on the sides, legs, and lower tail surface. the throat, chest, and belly are light coloured.  In the summer months, the fur is short and coarse and more reddish grey.To tell the difference between the male and the female swift fox, the males are larger and the average weight is respectively 2.45 and 2.25 kg.  They are about 30 cm high from the shoulders, and the length totals about 80 cm.  The swift fox usually lives in the wild 8 to 10 years.  In capacity they have lived for up to thirteen years.  They are adaptive to the environment because they are still alive today.
    Their behavior in regards to living out their days is like other foxes, are mostly nocturnal.  If you do see them during the day they are usually confined to their den area.  They usually are observed farther afield in the evening or mornings during the whelping seasons, when the baby foxes are born.
     The unusual thing about the swift fox among other canids, is that they use dens through out the entire year.  The dens are used both for whelping pups and for protection.  Dens are mainly thought to be used predominantly for protection, it consist only of a single burrow and entrance.  The other dens which are used for whelping lairs are very complex, includes a maze of interconnected tunnels with more then one entrance, probably for the mother to be able to get their babies out in different ways if there was an intruder.  Although swift fox do like to invade on other animals den such as the ground squirrels or badger holes to modify it to fit their needs, they can efficiently dig  their own dens.
    The swift fox are different from other foxes in many ways but all are in the canid family and should have enough protection to try and get out of their currently endangered status.  They do not harm humans so there should be no reason for humans to harm them.


     Carbyn, L. Canadian Wildlife Service Hinterland Who’s Who, Swift Fox. http://www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/hww-fap/fox/fox.html.  Minister of Supply and Services Canada: Canada, 1993.

     Internet Source. The Swift Fox. http://www.raysweb.net/specialplaces/pages/fox.html. anonymous.

     Harris, Wayne C. & Tagger, John R.  Swift Fox Symposiusm.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center: Saskatchewan, 1998.