Concerns and Major Threats: One of the primary concerns regarding the Swift Fox is habitat loss. The conversion of prairie lands (which are imperative to their survival) into crop lands and human development severely impacts the native numbers of this fox. Prairies make the Swift Fox most comfortable, and this is necessary to encourage breeding.
Another large factor with decreased Swift Fox numbers are the poisoned bait traps meant for Coyotes who take from farmers stock. Swift Foxes get into the trap, and it lowers their numbers.
Behavior: Swift foxes got their name from their speed. They are nocturnal, very vocal and non-territorial. These foxes spend more time underground in their burrows than any other canid. Although social animals, they keep one mate throughout their lifetime. One of the main threats to the swift fox is habitat loss as a result of conversion of grasslands for agriculture and fur trade.
In the past, they were impacted by trapping and accidental poisoning intended for wolves, coyotes, and prairie dogs. As part of federal eradication campaigns, poisoning also reduced swift fox food sources, such as prairie dogs and ground squirrels.
Reproduction: Mating Season is December to March. Females stop producing kits after 8 years.
Normal Gestation: Approx. 51 days
Average Litter Size: 4-5 kits
The kits disperse from the mother in September and October.
Legal Status/Protection: The Endangered Species Act requires the US federal government to identify species threatened with extinction, identify habitat they need to survive, and help aid their recovery process.
**The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) determines the national status of wild Canadian species, subspecies, varieties or other designated units that are suspected of being at risk of extinction or extirpation.protect both. In doing so, the Act works to ensure the basic health of our natural ecosystems and protect the legacy of conservation we leave to our children and grandchildren.
In the United States, the swift fox was removed from "candidate" status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)*. In Canada, they are considered to be "endangered" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and were once extinct.
Subspecies Confusion: Some individuals used to believe that Kit Foxes were a subspecies of the Swift Fox, even as recent as the late 1990's. This has since been disproven, due to a number of differences within the species. Kit Foxes have much larger ears to help dissipate heat, since they live in deserts instead of the prairie land that Swifts inhabit. They are also slightly smaller than Swifts by a couple pounds, and slightly less gray. Their tails are more pointed as well.
In the wild they only survive about 4 to 5 years, however, in captivity may live up to 13 to 16 years. They are found over the mid-west United States and Southern Canada. While they are not considered endangered in the US anymore, they are in Canada. They are most often found on open prairies and plains.