The Arctic Fox is a small white fox native to the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
The Arctic fox is also commonly known as the white fox, polar fox, or snow fox
The Arctic Fox is well adapted to living in cold environments.
It has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle—all-important adaptations to the chilly clime.
The arctic fox has a thick, multi-layered fur coat that provides excellent insulation against the cold.
Like a cat’s, this fox’s thick tail aids its balance. But for an arctic fox the tail is especially useful as warm cover in cold weather. They use their thick bushy tail to wrap around themselves.
The arctic fox is dark gray to brown to bluish-brown in the summer. In the winter, its fur is white or creamy white.
The lifespan of the Arctic Fox is from 3 to 6 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity.
The head-and-body length of the male is from 46 to 68 centimeters (18 to 27 inches), while the female is from 41 to 55 centimeters (16 to 22 inches). The tail is about 30 centimeters (12 inches) long in both sexes.
The height at the shoulder is 25 to 30 centimeters (9.8 to 11.8 inches).
The weight for males is from 3.2 to 9.4 kilograms (7.1 to 20.7 pounds), while females weight from 1.4 to 3.2 kilograms (3.1 to 7.1 pounds).
Arctic foxes do not hibernate and are active all year round.
They build up their fat reserves in the autumn, sometimes increasing their body weight by more than 50%. This provides greater insulation during the winter and a source of energy when food is scarce.
Arctic foxes have a great sense of smell and excellent hearing. Their small, pointy ears can hear their prey moving around in underground tunnels. When an Arctic fox hears its next meal scurrying under the snow, it leaps into the air and pounces, breaking through the layer of snow right onto the prey underneath.
They are primarily a carnivore and their diet varies from one part of their range to another.
Arctic foxes live in large dens. These are complex systems of tunnels covering as much as 1,000 square meters(10,750 square feet). They have multiple entrances and may have been in existence for many decades and used by many generations of foxes.
Arctic foxes live a communal and nomadic life, often forming small bands to scavenge for food.
They use their voice most often during the breeding season but will also yelp to warn its young of danger. They also use a high-pitched, undulating whine when disputing territory with neighbouring foxes.
Arctic foxes tend to form monogamous pairs in the breeding season and maintain a territory around the den. Breeding usually takes place in April and May, and the gestation period is about 52 days. Litters tend to average 5 to 8 kits, but exceptionally contain as many as 25 (the largest litter size in the order Carnivora).
Both the mother and father help to raise the young which emerge from the den when 3 to 4 weeks old and are weaned by 9 weeks of age. They leave the den at 14 to 15 weeks of age. Young foxes reach sexual maturity as early as 10 months of age.
The only natural predators of adult Arctic foxes are humans, polar bears and wolves. Arctic fox cubs are more vulnerable, and their natural predators include large birds of prey that live in the same habitat, such as snowy owls.
Sometimes to get food an Arctic Fox will follow behind a polar bear and scavenge on scraps.
When their ranges overlap, the red fox will compete with the Arctic fox for den sites driving them out of the region.
An Arctic Fox can survive in extremely low temperatures, sometimes reach as low as -50 °C (-58 °F)!
The Arctic fox can run at the speed of around 48 kilometers (30 miles) per hour.
The Arctic fox is the only land mammal native to Iceland. It came to the isolated North Atlantic island at the end of the last ice age, walking over the frozen sea.
The Arctic fox was impacted tremendously by the fur trade because of its extremely high quality pelt. It’s still hunted now for its fur, particularly by native populations who live in close proximity to them. The fur trade has decreased dramatically and the Arctic fox is not as vulnerable to overexploitation as it once was.