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Interesting facts about the Arctic fox

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We found 22 interesting facts about the arctic fox


The Arctic fox is a predator that is perfectly adapted to its environment and has developed a number of anatomical and behavioral features that allow it to survive the harsh winter conditions in the polar regions where it lives.


Found in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in the arctic tundra biome.

It can be found from Alaska through northern North America, Greenland and Iceland, northern Scandinavia and throughout northern Eurasia.

It is the only land mammal native to Iceland.

He arrived in the area at the end of the last ice age, wandering across the frozen sea.

There are five subspecies of Arctic fox.


The ancestor of this species is considered to be the Tibetan fox (Vulpes qiuzhudingi), which lived in the Pliocene (from 5 to 3,6 million years ago).

The Tibetan Plateau had tundra-like climatic conditions during the Pliocene and was home to cold-adapted mammals that spread across North America and Eurasia during the Pleistocene epoch (2,6–11,7 thousand years ago).

Arctic foxes are adapted to harsh and unfriendly weather conditions.

The difference between an animal's body temperature and the ambient temperature can reach 100 °C, so every joule of energy is worth its weight in gold. However, Arctic foxes have evolved a range of behaviors that, combined with their anatomical features, allow them to more easily survive the worst weather conditions.

There are two color options for the Arctic fox - white and blue.

The white version is white in winter, brown along the back in summer and light gray on the belly. The blue option is mostly grey, steel blue or brown all year round. Although the blue allele is dominant over the white allele, 99% of the Arctic fox population is born with the white variant. Of these two options, five colors can be distinguished: blue, white, shadow, beige and sapphire.

Males are slightly larger than females.

The length of the muzzle and body in males is on average 55 cm, and in females - 52 cm. Males weigh approximately 3,5 kg, and females 2,9 kg. However, the record holder among arctic foxes weighed much more - as much as 9,4 kg.

Although they are omnivores, they feed mainly on small animals.

Their menu includes voles, lemmings and other rodents, as well as fish, birds, hares and eggs. In May and April, the arctic fox also hunts seal pups, which are defenseless at this time. The Arctic fox's diet also sometimes includes berries and seaweed.

Their hearing is good, although not as good as that of a red fox or dog.

They hear in the range of 125 - 16 thousand Hz. They are able to hear lemmings digging at a depth of 10-15 cm.

They have an excellent sense of smell.

They smell carrion left by polar bears at a distance of 10 to 40 km. They easily sense and find frozen lemmings under a layer of snow up to 77 cm thick, and they can sniff out a seal’s lair even under a layer of snow 150 cm thick.

The basis of their diet is lemmings, the number of which always correlates with the number of arctic foxes.

When there is an abundance of food, foxes can breed up to 18 cubs in one litter, and when there is a lack of food, they may not reproduce at all.

They are also scavengers.

In the absence of abundant food, they feed on carrion. They usually find larger game left behind by other, more dangerous predators such as wolves or bears.

In extreme situations of food shortage, they also feed on feces.

They are able to survive harsh winters and food shortages thanks to their adipose tissue, which perfectly stores energy. At the beginning of winter, up to 3500 kcal can be stored in the adipose tissue of the arctic fox. A medium-sized Arctic fox requires about 112 kcal per day to survive. The buildup of body fat begins in the fall, when a fox can increase its body weight by more than 50%.

In very cold conditions, foxes limit their movements and curl up into a ball to minimize heat loss.

Then they hide the head and limbs under the body and take the most optimal shape, the heat transfer surface of which is reduced to an absolute minimum.

Arctic fox fur provides the best insulation of any mammalian fur. They can withstand temperatures down to -70°C.

They are anatomically ideally suited for this. The thick, layered fur provides excellent insulation, and they are the only dogs to have fur on their paw pads. Additionally, the Arctic fox has a low body surface area to volume ratio, as evidenced by its overall compact body shape, short snout and legs, and short, thick ears.

The mating season begins in the spring.

At this time, the arctic fox is looking for a place to create a new family. Fertilization occurs in April or May. They are monogamous, and both father and mother care for the offspring.

Arctic foxes' pregnancy lasts 52 days.

A litter can contain up to 25 young, which is a record among all carnivorous mammals. The cubs leave the burrow 3-4 weeks after birth, and the mother stops feeding them milk 9 weeks after birth.

Arctic fox dens are located on hills, in non-freezing soil.

A complex complex of fox holes can cover an area of ​​up to 1000 m². Such tunnel systems can function for decades and are inhabited by successive generations of foxes. Most often, tunnels under construction have access to the south, which allows for more heat.

For the arctic fox, a strong and safe hole is much more important than proximity to a food source.

They always try to choose the best shelter for their family, even using red fox dens in areas where they live together. When threatened by predators, parents move their babies to other, less accessible parts of the tunnel system.

When food is plentiful, fox families may form larger herd structures.c

This allows these predators to more effectively guard and defend their territory. Polygamy is more common in such communities.

Most Arctic foxes do not survive their first year of life.


The first Arctic fox breeding farm was established in 1897 in North America and in 1938 in Poland.

Since then, fox fur has become increasingly popular among women, and the fur industry has grown to enormous proportions. Only in recent years has there been a noticeable decline in interest in fur and the opinion that wearing clothing made from the skins of animals killed for this purpose is outdated.

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