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What Does a Swift Fox Mostly Eat?

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Swift foxes (Vulpes velox) are a species of generally nocturnal wild canids that come from North America. They presently reside exclusively in the United States, but formerly had a Canadian presence, too. As omnivores, swift foxes consume a blend of flesh and plants.

Tiny Mammals

Tiny mammals make up the bulk of what swift foxes eat. They feed on lots of rodents, cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits. Some of their preferred rodent meals are prairie dogs (genus Cynomys), mice, pack rats (genus Neotoma), kangaroo rats (genus Dipodomys), white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), voles and ground squirrels. Swift foxes practice opportunistic eating patterns, and therefore readily eat most things they're capable of seizing. They also regularly feed on the rotting remains of animals who were killed by others beforehand -- carrion. They often eat the carrion of raccoons and skunks. Some swift foxes feed solely on mammals, with no other dietary elements.

Other Meat

While swift foxes mostly eat mammals, they also routinely munch on other types of meats. Some of the other animals they prey on are fish, amphibians, insects and tiny birds. Swift foxes' favorite insects include both beetles and grasshoppers. When they eat birds, they usually opt for those that nest on the ground, such as western meadowlarks (Sturnella neglecta), horned larks (Eremophila alpestris) and ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus). Although they do occasionally eat reptiles such as lizards, this isn't overly common for them.

Plant Time

Some of the plant-based foods that swift foxes enjoy are grasses, seeds and berries. One specific plant that swift foxes are known to eat is the prickly pear cactus (genus Opuntia). A lot of what swift foxes dine on shifts with the time of the year. Swift foxes that inhabit New Mexico consume more plants during the springtime, for instance.

Feeding Style

Swift foxes typically look for sustenance on the tops of hills, on the borders of dales and in areas surrounding hills, specifically those without many plants. Since they're nocturnal, they hunt when it's dark out. In the daytime, they rest inside of their dens. They generally remain close to their homes. When the weather is cold, swift foxes store any excess sustenance they can find in snow.

Swift Foxes as Prey

Swift foxes, like many animals, are sometimes the predators and sometimes the prey. Animals that frequently hunt and feed on swift foxes include coyotes. Birds of prey and badgers also sometimes go after swift foxes. People are often the causes of death of these light yellowish foxes, too. They frequently kill them because they mix them up with coyotes. Since swift foxes aren't particularly fearful of people, catching them usually isn't a tough task.