Food habits of swift foxes (Vulpes velox) occupying two distinct landscapes (dominated by cropland versus rangeland) in western Kansas were determined by analysis of scats collected in 1993 and 1996. Frequencies of occurrence of prey items in scats were compared between cropland and rangeland areas by season. Overall, the most frequently occurring foods of swift foxes were mammals (92% of all scats) and arthropods (87%), followed by birds (24%), carrion (23%), plants (15%) and reptiles (4%). No differences were detected between landscapes for occurrence of mammals, arthropods or carrion in any season (P ??? 0.100). Plants, specifically commercial sunflower seeds, were consumed more frequently in cropland than in rangeland in spring (P = 0.004) and fall (P = 0.001). Birds were more common in the swift fox diet in cropland than in rangeland during the fall (P = 0.008), whereas reptiles occurred more frequently in the diet in rangeland than in cropland during spring (P = 0.042). Variation in the diet of the swift fox between areas was most likely due to its opportunistic foraging behavior, resulting in a diet that closely links prey use with availability.
Additional publication details
Seasonal food habits of swift fox (Vulpes velox) in cropland and rangeland landscapes in western Kansas