Swift Fox, Vulpes velox, Den Use Patterns in Northwestern Texas

Brady K. McGee, Warren B. Ballard, Kerry L. Nicholson


Predator avoidance may be a reason why Swift Foxes (Vulpes velox) are one of the most burrow-dependent canids in North America. Typically Swift Foxes have multiple dens, which they frequently move among. As part of a larger study to reduce Coyote (Canis latrans) related mortalities on Swift Foxes, we installed artificial escape dens in areas occupied by Swift Foxes on Rita Blanca National Grassland, Dallam County, Texas. For this paper, our objective was to determine the effects of artificial escape dens on Swift Fox den use patterns. From January 2002 to August 2004 we captured, radio-collared, and monitored 55 Swift Foxes. We documented annual number of dens used, rate of den use (fidelity), distance between dens, den area, and den sharing. We compared treated (artificial dens installed) and untreated (no artificial dens) areas but found no differences in annual number of dens (P = 0.64; mean = 8), rate of den use (P = 0.96; mean = 35%), mean distance between dens (P = 0.99; mean = 2,311 m), den area (P = 0.55; mean = 5.72 km2), or den sharing (P = 0.46; mean = 42% of time). We did not observe an effect of artificial escape dens on Swift Fox den use patterns probably because artificial escape dens were designed for temporary escape cover rather than diurnal den use.


Swift fox; Vulpes velox; den range; den sharing; den use; fidelity; Texas

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v121i1.396

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