They are found in the American west and southwest in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas and in smaller numbers on the grassy plains of southwestern Canada and the Great Plains of the U.S.
They live mainly on short-grass prairies, dry scrublands and deserts.
They are small foxes reaching only about 2.5 feet long and weighing only up to about 6 pounds. Females are slightly smaller than males. They have a light gray coat on top with rust-colored sides (flanks), legs and the underside of the tail. They are white underneath the neck, chest and belly. The top and tip of the bushy tail is black. The snout is long and pointed with black patches on either side of the nose.
They are active at night (nocturnal), except in winter when they may come out to warm themselves in the sun. They can run up to 30 mph (50 kmh), which helps them catch small prey and escape predators. They also escape predators by hiding in their underground burrows.
They are omnivorous eating small animals – like mice, frogs, fish, birds, lizards, insects and spiders – and fruits, berries, grass, nuts and grains.
They are killed by coyotes, hawks, and eagles. Though being protected from hunting, they are accidentally killed by human hunters who mistake them for small coyotes.
Females are pregnant for about 2 months (gestation) and have up to 6 tiny, helpless kits in a safe underground den. She will nurse them for 6-7 weeks, but they will stay with her for up to about 6 months before going out on their own.
They live up to 6 years in the wild and more than twice that in captivity. They are listed as endangered on the US Federal List.
Species: V. velox
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Amsel, Sheri. "Fox (Swift)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. December 4, 2023
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