X

Arctic Fox

Vulpes lagopus/Alopex lagopus

Arcticfox Gallery

About the Arctic Fox

statusImg.Name

Geographic Range:

rangeImg.Name

Class:  Mammalia
Order:  Carnivora
Family:  Canidae
Genus: Alopex
Species: lagopus

With their thick coats and furred paws, arctic foxes are well adapted for their chilly surroundings. They’ll even wrap their tails around their bodies like a blanket to keep warm.  

Arctic Fox Facts

Appearance:
Arctic foxes have thick white coats that act as effective winter camouflage allowing them to easily blend into their snow-covered surroundings. In the summer months, the fox sheds its coat to a shorter, brown or gray fur. This provides camouflage among rocks and plants. Arctic foxes have small rounded ears, short snouts and furred paws for keeping warm in extreme temperatures. Foxes will even wrap their tails around their bodies to keep warm.  

Size:

  • 9 – 12 inches tall at the shoulder
  • 2.5 – 3 feet in length (from head to tail)
  • 12-inch tail
  • 6.5 – 20 pounds
  • Females are usually smaller than males

Diet:
Rodents, birds and occasionally fish and invertebrates. In winter, when prey is scarce, arctic foxes will often scavenge from polar bear kills.

Reproduction:

  • Breeding Season: February - May
  • Gestation: 46 - 58 days
  • Number of Offspring: Five to 10 pups, but more are possible in areas with abundant food supply
  • Sexual Maturity: 10 months

Behavior:
They have very good hearing, with the help of their wide, front-facing ears. This allows them to locate the exact position of prey beneath the snow. As soon as the fox detects its prey under the snow, it jumps and pounces to break through the snow.

Role in their habitat:
They prey upon small birds and mammals, lemmings in particular.  In fact, arctic fox population numbers are directly related to the lemming population size.

Habitat/Range:
Holarctic/Circumpolar – found throughout northern Canada, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia, and Greenland on the open tundra.

Median life expectancy:
Three to six years in the wild.

Conservation:
Populations have declined due to the fur trade and diseases spread from domestic dogs. Adaptable red foxes are also out-competing arctic foxes for territory. The arctic fox is adapted to thrive in cold weather. As climate change takes its toll on the environment, the arctic fox’s range shrinks, and the red fox encroaches northward.