A small fox, the swift fox is mostly tan with grizzled guard hairs on the back, sides and tail, and has fairly large eyes, dark patches on either side of the muzzle and an upturned tail with a black tail tip. Misidentifications are common. Swift foxes can be distinguished from coyotes by their much smaller frame, dark patches on either side of the muzzle and upturned tail; from red foxes by their coloration and dark-tipped tail; and from gray foxes by their coloration, frame, and lack of dark markings below and around the eyes and lack of a black ridge down the midline of the tail.
The swift fox is Oklahoma’s smallest fox. It typically weighs 4 – 6 pounds.
Swift foxes live in flat, open grasslands with short-statured vegetation less than six inches tall. They can be frequently found in prairie dog colonies, using the burrows for shelter and taking advantage of an abundant food source. In Oklahoma, they are primarily found in High Plains of the Panhandle.
Swift foxes are dietary generalists and feed opportunistically on everything from grasshoppers in the summer to jackrabbits in the winter. The foxes can form relatively strong pairs and typically have a litter of three kits.
The swift fox is classified as a furbearer in Oklahoma but has a closed season because of its scarcity. It is considered a species of greatest conservation need.
Wildlife Watching Tips
Swift foxes are occasionally reported from Oklahoma's High Plains. Sightings can be shared with the Wildlife Department.