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Meet the Arctic Fox: A Beautiful & Resourceful Far North Inhabitant

4 min read

Like all wildlife in the world’s Polar Regions, the arctic fox is able to easily adapt to its surroundings. The expression “smart like a fox” certainly applies to this interesting animal.

Arctic fox
Arctic Fox. Image credit: Quark passenger

Arctic Fox Facts

Arctic foxes maintain their body heat with their warm fur

While we humans need to dress according to weather conditions when visiting the Arctic tundra, nature takes cares of that for the arctic fox (also known as the polar fox, snow fox, or white fox).

Of all the arctic animals, no other creature in the Arctic has a pelt that provides warmth like that of the arctic fox – the temperature has to drop to -50 Celsius before the animal may just begin to feel cold. Arctic fox fur actually gets thicker in the polar winter to help the animal stay warm.

Its size also helps to conserve warmth. The arctic fox is often not much bigger than a large domestic cat, ranging from 75 to 115 centimetres in length and weighing anywhere from 2.5 to 9 kilograms. It has short legs, a short muzzle and small rounded ears, all of which reduce the amount of surface area available for heat loss.

An arctic fox's feet are also covered in fur, as is its thick, fluffy tail, which it can use as a blanket of sorts.

Arctic fox cub
Arctic Fox. Image credit: Quark passenger

The Arctic Fox is an Excellent Hunter

The arctic fox’s thick fur changes colours with the seasons, a trait unique to this member of the dog family.

The changing colors provide a camouflage effective for hunting prey such as lemmings, squirrels and birds. It also helps them hide from their natural predators, such as polar bears, golden eagles, grizzly bears, and red foxes.

Its hearing and sense of smell are so acute that the fox can pick up on the sound of smaller critters while navigating tunnels under the snow.

The fox is primarily a carnivore but is a bit of a scavenger, as well, picking over the bones of dead animals left behind by a polar bear or timber wolf.

It will also eat berries, vegetation and even its own feces if no other food is readily available. But if there is an abundance of food, it will often be carried back to the den and stored away. The arctic fox is nothing if not resourceful.

Arctic Fox Dens: Complex and Communal

Arctic foxes do not hibernate and are active throughout the year. They can be found throughout the Arctic, around the globe, but generally do not have a tremendous range.

Arctic foxes live in a home territory that will vary in size from 3 to 25 kilometres. 

Arctic foxes form pairs and are monogamous. They will usually remain together in family units of multiple generations. They make their homes in elaborate and sometimes ancient dens with scores of tunnels and entrances.

Litters can be quite large – some have produced up to 25 pups – and both parents take active roles in the raising of their young.

Arctic Foxes are Found Throughout the Arctic Circle

Arctic foxes live in the Northern hemisphere throughout the Arctic and Alpine tundra. They can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. There are reports of the arctic fox found living on sea ice near the North Pole.

Arctic Fox Populations Fluctuate

Although the Arctic fox was deemed "least concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, several populations, especially those in Scandinavia, have been threatened by trappers.

Although the Arctic fox is legally protected from hunting, the fur trade has significantly decreased the adult population in several regions.

The arctic fox is a beautiful and intelligent animal, and just one example of the plentiful polar wildlife you’ll have a chance to see on an arctic expedition, such as the Spitsbergen Explorer: Wildlife Capital of the Arctic expedition. Book an Arctic adventure with us today!

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