Den Site Activity Patterns of Adult Male and Female Swift Foxes, Vulpes velox, in Northwestern Texas

Patrick R. Lemons, Warren B. Ballard, Robert M. Sullivan, Marsha A. Sovada


Activity of Swift Foxes (Vulpes velox) at den sites was studied in northwestern Texas during pup rearing seasons in 2000 and 2001 to determine role of males in parental care. Twenty-four percent of radio-collared females with a potential to breed successfully raised pups to eight weeks of age. We intensively monitored presence and absence of male and female Swift Foxes at two den sites each year. Females were present >2.6 times more at den sites than males during the pup rearing season. Female and male Swift Foxes largely stayed at dens during diurnal hours and were active away from dens during nocturnal and crepuscular hours. Females and males spent 12.4% and 3.0% more time at dens before pups emerged, than after pups emerged, respectively. Following depredation of one male parent, the female spent 29% less time at the den site. Decrease in time spent at the den by the female following loss of her mate suggested that loss of one parent might severely impact recruitment of Swift Foxes. Our observations indicated that intense Coyote (Canis latrans) depredation may severely impact pup-rearing success as well as the parental care within Swift Fox family groups.


Swift fox; Vulpes velox; den sites; helping behavior; Texas

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