Texas outdoors lovers are likely familiar with the red and gray foxes but there is another species. Swift foxes are a small variety indigenous to western Texas and the Panhandle that is facing some serious challenges.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials, the Swift Fox is about the size of a house cat and is the smallest American fox. It has pale yellow fur with brownish ears and a fluffy tail with a black spot at the base of its tail and at the tip. Swifts are characteristically nocturnal animals, although they are sometimes active during the daytime as well.
“They leave their dens at night to hunt and rarely move far from their dens. They rely on speed and nearness to their dens for safety. Foxes from many different family groups may hunt in the same territory, but not necessarily at the same time.”
“Their diet is composed mainly of small mammals such as kangaroo rats, jackrabbits, cottontails, and rodents, but they will also eat insects, small birds, lizards, amphibians, and fish. They pair up in the fall and have their litters in early spring. Most Swift Foxes have three to six babies in a litter.”
“Swift Foxes are not very suspicious of humans, so that they are easily trapped or poisoned. In areas where trappers are active or where poison is used to control predators, this species has been greatly reduced in number or entirely eliminated .Swift Foxes typically live in the open desert or grasslands. They hunt in high, well-drained mesas, hilltops, along the borders of valleys, and sparsely vegetated hillsides and other well-drained areas. They have also adapted to cultivated and ranchlands.DistributionDistribution of the Swift Fox in Texas is limited to the western 1/3 of the state.”
Swift foxes are one of many Texas species we will be profiling in the coming months that few know about but that make a unique part of our biodiversity.
Compiled by Chester Moore, Jr.