The swift fox is a fox species of North America.
It is native to the Great Plains region of North America, and its range extends north to the central part of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada, and south to Texas. It reaches from western Iowa to Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Montana.
Swift foxes usually live between 3 and 6 years in the wild, but may live up to 14 years in captivity.
The swift fox is the smallest fox species in North America. It is about 30 cm (12 in) in height, and 80 cm (31 in) long, measuring from the head to the tip of the tail, or about the size of a domestic cat. Its weight ranges from 2.3 to 3.2 kg (5 to 7 lb).
The swift fox has a dark, grayish, tan coloration that extends to a yellowish tan color across its sides and legs. The throat, chest, and belly range from pale yellow to white in color. Its tail is black-tipped, and it has black patches on its muzzle. Its ears are noticeably large.
Their underground burrows are usually 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) in length with 4 entrances. They are generally placed in areas near a permanent water source and low predator abundance.
A swift fox may have a territory of 2.5 square kilometers (1 square mile).
Like most canids, the swift fox is an omnivore, and its diet includes grasses and fruits as well as small mammals such as rabbits, mice, voles and ground squirrels, and also birds, insects, lizards and carrion.
They get their name from how fast they can run – reaching speeds around 50 km/h (30 mph). Their speed helps them catch food and avoid predators.
Swift Foxes are solitary animals except during the breeding season.
They usually mate for life in a monogamous relationship, and form pair bonds in early winter.
After a gestation period of about 52 days, a litter of three to five pups is born. Pups nurse for three or four weeks. After weaning, the female first regurgitates food for her young, then brings solid food to the den, and finally supplies pups with live prey.
It became nearly extinct in the 1930s as a result of predator control programs, but was successfully reintroduced later.
Currently, the conservation status of the species is considered by the IUCN as Least Concern owing to stable populations elsewhere.
Even though it is illegal to kill swift foxes, they are sometimes mistaken as coyotes and killed.
The swift fox can be distinguished from all other North American foxes, except the kit fox, by its small size and black-tipped tail. The swift fox can be distinguished from the kit fox by its shorter and more widely spaced ears, its shorter tail, and its more rounded and doglike head (compared with the broader head and narrower snout of the kit fox).