All About Arctic Foxes

All About Arctic Foxes

All you need to know about the White Fox

Arctic fox, due to its appearance, is a very memorable creature. They are similar to pets, only very white. In the snow, such an animal may not be noticed, especially if the arctic fox closes its nose and eyes. This is not only his special feature, which arouses increased interest in humans but also his main adaptation to life in polar conditions.

The arctic fox, also known as the common arctic fox snow or the white fox, polar fox or arctic fox (lat. Vulpes Lagopus or Alopex lagopus), is a predatory mammal of the canine family, the only representative of the genus and species of arctic foxes.

All About Arctic Foxes

The Origin Of Arctic Fox

Previously, Arctic foxes belonged to a separate genus Alopex, later animals were included in the genus of wolves. Modern scientific classification sometimes classifies a single genus of Arctic foxes as a genus of foxes.

The Arctic fox, due to its appearance, is a very memorable creature. They are similar to pets “for sure you can have domesticated arctic fox”, very white this is why some people call it the White Fox. In the snow, such an animal may not be noticed, especially if the arctic fox closes its nose and eyes. This is not only his special feature, which arouses increased interest in humans but also his main adaptation to life in polar conditions.

Arctic Fox: Description, Characteristics.

Arctic Fox Description

The length of this small stocky animal is about 1.3 feet, the bodyweight rarely exceeds 19 pounds, the body is covered with soft, thick and very fluffy fur, not typical for canine representatives, a short muzzle with small fur-covered, slightly rounded ears, small short paws hairy even on the soles. The weight of Arctic foxes is greatest in winter and less in summer.

Nature made the fluffy arctic fox feel comfortable regardless of the temperature around. Since the Arctic fox lives in the extreme northern regions, it has a unique feature: due to its heat exchange and thermoregulation in the body, it begins to feel hypothermia and tremble only when the ambient temperature drops to -70 degrees.

Of all the senses, the arctic fox has the strongest sense of smell, and about the vision is not particularly sharp. A feature of the arctic fox animal vision is a high degree of pigmentation of the eyes, which protects them from sun glare. Occasionally, the Arctic Fox Snow can have heterochromia (differences in eye colour).

arctic fox snow
All About Arctic Foxes
All About Arctic Foxes

The white fox animal can growl, sometimes yapping, if he wants to scare someone, then reminding him of a dog.

Arctic Fox Characteristics

In summer, the Arctic Fox is active for a long time – almost round the clock, which is associated with the long duration of daylight hours. At this time of year ( winter), he is constantly looking for food to feed his family. Over the summer, the arctic fox must accumulate fat and nutrients in its body, otherwise, it will not survive the cold winter. In autumn and winter, the Arctic fox prefers to go out in search of food at night.

In summer, animals mostly rest in their burrows, but sometimes they can also relax in the open air. But in winter, the Arctic fox prefers to dig a new den right in a snowdrift and hide there already. He can hide for several days in a row from a blizzard or during severe frosts.

In general, Arctic foxes are very well adapted to tundra conditions. But even despite their adaptability to harsh conditions, do animals wander along the seashores or rivers towards the south every autumn? to the most conformal regions, which may be several hundred miles away. In the spring they gradually come back.

The family life is very much like a fox. They can also keep alone in winter, although very often they gather in several pieces around a large prey. And in the spring, they already form pairs, and then raise the babies through joint efforts.

By nature, Arctic foxes are cautious and prefer not to take risks unnecessarily. At the same time, they are characterized by persistence and even arrogance. When meeting with larger predators, they do not run away, but simply retreat a certain distance, and if possible, they try to snatch a piece from its prey. In general, Arctic foxes combine both strategies for finding food – active hunting and walking around.

Very often you can see a fluffy arctic fox eating, and at this time it is surrounded by several Arctic foxes, waiting for their turn. In those places where Arctic foxes are not hunted, the animals are not afraid of man and calmly approach his home. They are quite creative. For example, hungry arctic foxes can infiltrate human homes or sheds, where food is often stolen. They can also steal food from dogs.

Where Arctic Fox Live ?

Many people keep wondering where do foxes live. the Arctic foxes live in the northern part of Eurasia and America, as well as on many polar islands of the Arctic Ocean. They can be found in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia and Iceland. The tundra is the most comfortable habitat for them, but sometimes Arctic foxes can be found in the forest-tundra, also on the coasts of the northern seas and oceans.

All About Arctic Foxes

Arctic Fox Habitat Features

Arctic foxes are typical nomads, spending most of the year on the road in search of food. And only during the breeding season do animals return to those places from which they migrated in winter or autumn. Lack of food is the only reason for this lifestyle.

Tundra is the main habitat of Arctic foxes. Animals prefer open landscapes with hilly terrain, where it is convenient to dig brood holes – intricate tunnel systems with many entrances.

Burrows is always located no further than 0.5 km from the water. There are few places in the tundra suitable for arranging dry and safe burrows, so Arctic foxes have been using their homes for many years in a row. Some hills are so pitted with intricate labyrinths that they become dwellings for tens or even hundreds of generations of Arctic foxes.

Polar foxes begin to dig holes in the soft ground surrounded by a scattering of stones, this protects the entrances from the encroachments of large predators. Upon reaching the level of permafrost, construction is suspended and resumed when the ground begins to thaw.

In conditions of high population density, Arctic foxes have to settle in rocky places or piles of coastal soil. Some individuals are content with an ordinary den dug right in the snow.

Arctic foxes are social animals and prefer to live in groups. The family consists of a male, a female, several young females from last year’s litter and this year’s cubs. Each family owns a certain area of ​​habitat, ranging from 2 to 30 km2. Occasionally, Arctic foxes live in colonies formed from 2-3 families.

In winter, males lead a solitary life, gathering only for “lunch”, near the carcass of a frozen animal.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Arctic foxes are monogamous animals. They almost always form strong pairs and live in families. Each family usually includes two adults – a male and a female, their cubs of the current litter in the amount of three to ten puppies, and sometimes a few more young females from the previous litter. Some animals can live in colonies from several families. Very often, females bring up adoptive parents. Sometimes two or three families can join in adjacent burrows connected by a passage.

arctic fox baby
arctic fox baby

Behavior in Nature

On sandy hills and coastal terraces, he digs holes, complex underground labyrinths with many (up to 60-80) entrances. The fox digs a burrow in the soft ground surrounded by stones (they protect the entrance from digging up by large predators) to the level of permafrost, deepening it as the ground thaws. Burrows are never more than half a kilometre from the water. There are few suitable places for burrowing in the tundra, so arctic foxes use them for years, sometimes for 15-20 years in a row, and intermittently for hundreds and even thousands of years, so that some hills are completely dug up. Less often, Arctic foxes settle among placers of stones or in piles of a fin on the coast. In winter, the arctic fox is often content with a simple den in the snow.
Arctic fox is omnivorous, its food includes 125 species of animals and 25 species of plants. However, it is based on small rodents, especially lemmings, as well as birds. It feeds on both washed ashore and caught fish, as well as plant foods: berries (blueberries, cloudberries), herbs, algae (seaweed). Doesn’t refuse to fall. On the coast, the Arctic fox often accompanies polar bears, and he gets some of the meat of the killed seals. Finally, he eats animals trapped in traps, making no exception even for other Arctic foxes. In summer, it stores excess food in the den for the winter.

arctic fox pet
fluffy arctic fox

The Arctic fox has well-developed hearing and sense of smell; slightly weaker – vision. The voice represents yapping barking.
As a rule, these animals are monogamous, although sometimes (on the Commander Islands) there are cases of polygamy. A typical family of Arctic foxes consists of a male, a female, young females from the previous litter and cubs of the current year. Usually, families live separately, but they can also settle in colonies of 2-3 families. The area of ​​the family of Arctic foxes ranges from 2 to 30 km 2. The Arctic fox spends a significant part of the year roaming in search of food. By the time of breeding, Arctic foxes return to those areas from which they migrated in autumn and winter, and either occupy ready-made burrows or dig new ones.

Typically, the area of ​​the family of Arctic foxes ranges from 2 to 30 square miles. However, in years of famine, Arctic foxes animal can run far beyond their area, up to tens of miles.

Arctic Fox Mating

Before having offspring, adult arctic foxes dig holes for themselves. The place for the burrow is always chosen in elevated places since there is a risk of flooding on the plain with meltwater. Burrows usually burrow in soft soil, among stones that are needed for protection. A well-located burrow suitable for breeding can be passed on from generation to generation by arctic foxes. But more often the old mink is abandoned by the new generation, and a new deepening is being built nearby. It often connects to the parental home by a tunnel. Sometimes you can find whole labyrinths, reaching 50-60 entrances.

arctic fox mating
Arctic Fox Mating

These animals reach sexual maturity by nine or eleven months. In March or early April, female Snow foxes begin estrus, which usually lasts no more than two weeks. At this time, a period called hunting passes. During the period when the female can become pregnant, fights take place between rival males. By fighting, they draw the female’s attention to themselves. The flirting of the male can also occur in another way: he runs in front of the chosen one with a stick, with a bone or with another object in his teeth.

Pregnancy usually lasts 52 days, but this value can range from 49 to 56 days. Towards the end, when the pregnant female feels that she will soon give birth, usually in 2 weeks, she begins to prepare the dwelling – she digs a new hole, cleans the old one from leaves. If there is no burrow for some reason, then she can give birth in the bushes. From the moment the female breeds the cubs, the male arctic fox becomes the only prey for the entire family.

The female fully takes care of the offspring. Young puppies feed on milk for about 10 weeks. Then, having already reached three to four weeks of age, they gradually begin to leave the burrow. Mom not only feeds them but also teaches them to hunt, teaches them to survive the frosts, digging holes in the snowdrifts.

What does the Arctic Fox eat?

What does the Arctic Fox hunt ?

The Arctic fox is not picky about food, it eats everything that comes it’s the way. The main food constituent of the Arctic fox is lemmings and voles, the presence of which determines the size of the population of these animals. With the help of its sense of smell, the Arctic fox is able to smell prey even under a thick layer of snow, and if it is found, the animal dives into the snow, which is very similar to the hunt of an ordinary fox.

The Arctic fox animal does not disdain the dead animals. When exposed to low temperatures, animal carcasses do not decompose for a long time, and the arctic fox picks them up without neglect. Perhaps this is what helps him survive in these extreme conditions. Also, the diet includes birds, their eggs and offspring, sometimes fish.

fluffy arctic fox
arctic fox pet

Sometimes Arctic foxes follow large animals, in particular polar bears, picking up scraps from their dining table. Animals do not refuse plant food. In rare cases, Arctic foxes can hunt baby deer. In summer, the Arctic fox is active almost all day long and is constantly in search of food. What does the Arctic fox do in winter: how does it hurt? What does the Arctic fox eat in winter? Often the Arctic fox makes reserves for the winter, if, of course, the summer food base allows it. In winter, it goes hunting, preferably at night. Naturally, fox foraging in winter is more difficult than in summer.
In search of food, these animals often approach a person’s dwelling and, in their insolence, sometimes are not inferior to jackals. In summer, the Arctic fox is active almost all day.

Arctic Fox Fur Color

Arctic foxes are white or blue, depending on their colour. According to scientists, the blue arctic fox is considered the dominant form, from which its white counterpart originated in the Ice Age. Among the variety of canids, the Arctic fox is the only animal with a pronounced seasonal dimorphism in colour.

The thick fur of the Arctic fox is soft and fluffy to the touch. The white arctic fox is snow-white in winter, and the fur takes on a dirty brown hue in summer.

A rarer variety is the blue arctic fox, whose winter outfit is distinguished by a rich spectrum of shades: sand, light coffee, ash gray with a blue tint, or brown, shimmering with silver. An interesting feature: no matter what colour the fox is wearing – brown or grey, it is called blue in any case.

The moulting period of Arctic foxes depends on the range, weather conditions, health status of a particular individual, age and thickness of the body fat. Spring moulting of most representatives of the species begins in March – April and lasts 4 months.

Autumn fur changes occur from September to December and are even slower than spring ones. Therefore, some specimens with unfinished moult can be found even in December. Arctic foxes wear the best quality “fur coat” in January – February.

All About Arctic Foxes
All About Arctic Foxes

Natural Enemies Of Arctic Foxes

Despite the fact that the Arctic fox itself is a predator, this animal also has enemies. Cubs are especially at risk. Arctic foxes can be hunted by wolverines, raccoon dogs, foxes and wolves. Occasionally, a polar bear can also attack, although more often the arctic fox is not of interest to him because of its small size.

But young arctic foxes can become prey for birds of prey, such as:

  • White Owl
  • golden eagle
  • skua
  • white-tailed eagle
  • raven
  • owl
  • large species of gulls.

But more often, polar foxes die not as victims of predators, but from hunger due to a lack of food resources. Therefore, under natural conditions, the mortality rate of animals (as well as reproduction) varies greatly from year to year. Diseases, mainly scabies, distemper, arctic encephalitis and helminthiasis, are also limiting factors.

For the Arctic fox, direct competitors in food are animals such as the ermine or weasel. But these species are few in number and therefore do not cause significant damage to the Arctic fox. Also, over the past decades, a shift in the southern boundary of the arctic fox’s habitat to the north has been noted. A number of scientists believe this is a consequence of the settlement of the forest-tundra strip by a fox. But there is also an opinion that the displacement is due to the effect of heat on the soil and soil, on its moisture content, due to which the duration of the snow cover, the microclimate of burrows and the change in the distribution of the food supply change.

Types of Arctic Foxes

All Species of foxes belong to the Canidae family and the Zoologists identify 10 species of Arctic foxes, and below we will describe the most interesting of them.

Mednovsky arctic fox

Also known as Mednovsky blue fox, so named for its blue winter fur, which is even more prized than the regular white fur of the white fox. The high value of the fur of this species of Arctic fox is also determined by its small number; according to zoologists, the population of the Mednovsky Arctic fox is 100 individuals, it is not surprising that it is listed in the Red Book as an endangered species, in fact, a victim of human vanity and stupidity. The Mednovsky arctic fox lives on Medny Island, which is part of the Commander Islands.

Brown Fox

This species of Arctic foxes, living on Bering Island, differs from its other brethren in its larger size and brown color of winter fur, hence the name.

All About Arctic Foxes
Brown Fox

Icelandic Arctic Fox

Interesting in that it is the only mammal that lives in Iceland.

All About Arctic Foxes
Icelandic arctic fox

White Arctic Fox

In fact, this is an ordinary arctic fox, whose life and habits are described above.

White arctic fox
All About Arctic Foxes

Arctic Fox Pet

For Exotic Pet lovers, you can try keeping an Arctic fox as a pet at home. It is best to keep the Arctic fox in a spacious wooden cage. If the Arctic fox is small like the Fennec Fox, then it is better to not keep him alone, but with his fellow. You can feed the Arctic fox with food that is natural for it: meat, fish, cereals. Moreover, if in winter he does not consume a lot of food, then in summer, when his metabolism accelerates, the Arctic fox becomes a real glutton, which is not surprising, because he needs to store fat for the winter.

If you want to know more about keeping a fox at home read this article :
Keeping and Caring For Fox as a Pet

Domesticated Arctic Fox

The Arctic fox has long been prized for its beautiful fur so that you will see many people love to have this cute animal as a pet. In the north, this animal is the main component of the entire fur trade. The greatest value is the fur of the blue fox, which is bred in captivity. On the islands located in the non-freezing sea, semi-free breeding is practised: the animal, being at large, feeds on food left by the human in special traps. The number of Arctic foxes is constantly changing, but on average it is several hundred thousand individuals.

Fun Fact About Arctic Fox

Here Some Arctic Foxes Facts

  • The arctic fox’s sense of smell is so well developed and so strong that it is able to smell lemming even under the thickness of the snow cover.
  • Despite their beauty, these animals do not differ in cleanliness. So in their holes, you can often find traces of uneaten food and droppings.
  • Arctic foxes, called “polar fox” from the common fox, also adopted cunning with intelligence. Yes, these animals are unusually intelligent, they can easily recognize human traps, confusing tracks, pretend to be dead so that they can quickly escape.
  • In summer, animals mostly rest in their burrows, but sometimes they can also relax in the open air. But in winter, the Arctic fox prefers to dig a new den right in a snowdrift and hide there already. He can hide for several days in a row from a blizzard or during severe frosts.
  • Typically, the area of ​​the family of Arctic foxes ranges from 2 to 30 square kilometres. However, in years of famine, polar foxes can run far beyond their site, up to tens of kilometres.
  • Not in all countries the Arctic fox is considered white and fluffy. The Arctic fox is classified as a “prohibited new organisms” by New Zealand law, and since the end of the last century, the import of these animals into the country has been strictly prohibited.
  • Newborns of Arctic foxes are born blind and without teeth, and their weight is 60-100 g. After giving birth within 3-4 days, the female’s appetite can be significantly reduced. He returns to normal only on the fifth day.

Arctic Fox Diseases

One of the main misfortunes from which many polar foxes die is VETZh (viral encephalomyelitis of tundra animals), which is considered an atypical form of rabies in polar foxes. Wildness is a dangerous disease that ends in paralysis and affects animals of all ages, regardless of gender and degree of fatness. Epidemics, which claim the lives of thousands of animals, occur every 3-4 years throughout the habitat and are associated with high population density.

Wild arctic foxes lose their instinct for self-preservation, attack wild, domestic animals and humans.

Among young individuals at the age of 3-8 months, leptospirosis (infectious jaundice) is common – a viral disease that affects foxes, dogs, cats, as well as humans.

Eating carrion often leads to helminthiasis. Infected individuals become weak, unable to accumulate enough fat and eventually die.

Sources: translate from

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