Summary: Many species of foxes live in North America. Each species has unique characteristics. Read our fox facts to learn which fox can run up to 50 kilometers per hour and which species thrives in the desert.
The swift fox derives its name from its incredible speed. It can run up to 50 kilometers per hour. Not only is it fast, but it is also the smallest of wild dogs (which include foxes, dogs, and wolves) in North America. The swift fox weighs no more than six pounds and is actually about the size of a cat. Don't think about adopting a swift fox as a playmate for your kitty, though, because this species can only survive in open spaces, like prairies.
In the early part of the twentieth century, swift foxes were extinct in Canada and endangered in the United States. This occurred because of a program that tried to decrease the population of squirrels, coyotes, and wolves. This program actually hurt swift foxes and was a major factor in their extinction.
Another reason for the elimination of this species is attributed to loss of habitat. Unlike the red fox, the swift fox cannot adjust to living in most environments. It needs to live in prairies to survive. Due to development of industry, the number of prairies has decreased dramatically. Likewise, the swift fox population continued to decrease until there were no swift foxes left in Canada.
Recently, though, people have made efforts to reintroduce the swift fox species into their country. Swift foxes are extremely useful in reducing the number of prairie dogs because the foxes prey on them.
This species of fox is mostly active at night. It used to find food by eating the remains of prey that grizzly bears and wolves hunted. Now that the presence of bears and wolves has decreased, the swift fox must compete with coyotes for food. Both of these animals feed on rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, grasses, and berries. Because of the larger size of the coyote, the swift fox usually loses when competing for food. The fox is even in competition with its cousins, the red fox and the grey fox. This is yet another reason the swift fox has trouble surviving.
An interesting fact about the swift fox is that it is very sensitive to wind. On windy days, it will camp out in its den instead of running out in search of food. I'm sure you can relate to wanting to stay in bed on rainy days instead of going to work.
The swift fox is also very trusting of humans. So, if you ever run into one, do not try to feed it. You should almost never feed wild animals because they will come back for more and could carry harmful diseases.
The kit fox is a nickname for kitten fox. Like the swift fox, it is as small as a kitten and only weighs about three to six pounds. Although it is one of the smallest wild dogs, it actually has the largest ears. Its ears help it to find prey at night and to eliminate body heat during the warm summer months.
This animal is prevalent in the southwestern areas of the United States and the northern parts of Mexico. The kit fox's main habitat is the desert. The kit fox is a nocturnal animal. During the day, it likes to hang out in its den to avoid hot temperatures. If a kit fox notices a disturbance to its den, it will move to a new one. The entrances to its den are small to keep out predators like badgers. One interesting fact about the kit fox is that its den may have about seven entrances.
The paws of the kit fox are densely covered with fur. This helps the animals to run quietly throughout the desert when hunting for food. It eats small animals, including cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, and kangaroo rats. These animals are also nocturnal. It does not need to drink much water because it gets enough from the food it eats.
The decline in the population of the kit fox has also led this animal to become endangered in some areas. In the San Joaquin Valley of California, for example, loss of habitat has caused the kit fox population to decrease to about 7,000. The poisoning of wolves and coyotes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries killed much of the kit fox population, just like the population of swift foxes.