The arctic fox is the main predator in the arctic feeding on birds, small mammals, including seal pups, and carcasses left behind by polar bears.

Fox Habits

Territory: The arctic fox lives in one of the most inhospitable habitats on Earth.

In the winter they live in almost perpetual darkness and in the summer they live through almost 24 hours of sunlight a day.

The arctic fox lives in dens that are dug into the side of a hill, cliff or riverbank. In winter they dig a series of interconnecting tunnels in the deep snow where the family live.

The territory of the arctic fox depends largely on the availability of food. During the winter when food is scarce a whole family will share a larger territory and in the summer when food is more abundant the territory shrinks.

The arctic fox does not hibernate during the winter but may migrate south to the coast or overwinter along the treeline of northern Scandinavia.

Daily Life: Arctic foxes are usually solitary in the summer but in the winter they hunt and live together in small family groups.

Breeding: They reach maturity at one year and mate in early April before the summer arrives. They have four to eleven puppies in a litter with an average of six and can have two litters in a year.

Adaptations: The arctic fox is the only species in its genus although they are related to other foxes, wolves and dogs. They are particularly well adapted to the cold habitat that they live in with small, compact bodies that conserve body heat and thick, dense winter fur.

The winter coat is white-blue which camouflages the arctic fox against the snow and helps them to creep up on its prey. In the summer the coat is a light brown-grey and less thick.

The Arctic fox has small, rounded, furry ears which also helps them to conserve heat. They also have thick hair on their feet which insulates them against the cold Arctic snow.

Threats: The Arctic fox has suffered locally, particularly in the south of its range but overall it is quite a common mammal.

Snowy owls, golden eagles, polar bears, wolverines and red foxes all prey on arctic foxes as well as humans and their dogs. They have been hunted by humans for their thick white fur (extensively so in Iceland) and have been captured and bred on fur farms.

They have also suffered from diseases such as rabies and distemper.

Read More: Foxes and Humans

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