- A-Z Animals
The Arctic Fox has several names like the lemming fox, the polar fox, the snow fox, or the white fox. It resides in the cold environment of the Arctic and is well equipped to do so. These foxes have thick fur, which changes color according to season, and a fluffy tail that keep them warm in chilly temperatures. These foxes’ most recognizable public image comes from the white fur coat that they sport in winter.
They have a specific niche in its environment, keeping the rodent population down and scavenging carcasses to lower the spread of diseases and bacteria.
Size: Length: Males: 18 to 27 in (46 to 68 cm) Females: 16 to 22 in (41 to 55 cm)
Weight: Males: 7.1 to 20.7 lb (3.2 to 9.4 kg) Females: 3.1 to 7.1 lb (1.4 to 3.2 kg)
Body and Coloration: Its body is compact, with curled back ears, a tiny black nose, stubby legs, and a long bushy tail.
They are the only canid that changes fur color. The coat is dark gray to bluish brown with lighter underparts in the summer, while in the winter, it’s white or creamy white.
These foxes are found in the Arctic region, as its name indicates. The main areas include the northern parts of Asia, northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, and North America.
They live in alpine tundra, along coastal areas, on ice floes, and north of the arctic tree line.
Arctic foxes generally eat most small animals, including birds, eggs, fish, hares, lemmings, voles, and other rodents. They also feed on carcasses left by wolves and polar bears. When food is scarce, they eat would go to the extent of eating their own feces for survival. On the other hand, when the edibles are found in abundance, the Arctic fox buries the surplus in reserves called caches.
Generally, they live for 3-4 years in their wild habitat and about 14 years if bred in captivity.
Arctic foxes have several natural predators like brown and polar bears, red foxes, wolves, and wolverines. Certain eagles and owls also swoop down and snatch unsuspecting baby foxes.
These foxes are monogamous, mating for life. Breeding occurs from April to July, with births taking place from April through June for the first litter of pups and July or August for the second. In fact the females deliver up to 14 pups in a single litter.
After a gestation period of around 2 months, 5-8 pups are born. The juveniles begin to leave the den at 3-4 weeks and are weaned off at 9 weeks. Both parents care for their young, with the male feeding them as well. They reach sexual maturity at 10 months.
As per the IUCN, the Arctic Fox is listed as “Least Concern” or “LC” since 2004. However, populations in the Scandinavian regions of Finland, Sweden, and Norway are critically endangered, their numbers equaling to just 200 individuals. Some of the basic reasons for depletion in their numbers include hunting and even loss of habitat particularly to the red fox.