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Arctic Fox



SCIENTIFIC NAME: Vulpes lagopus

TYPE: Mammal

GROUP NAME: Skulk, Leash



ivores. Small mammals, lemmings, insects, berries,

carrion, marine invertebrates, sea birds and fish.


HEAD & BODY LENGTH: 28 inches

TAIL LENGTH: 15 inches

WEIGHT: 6 to 10 pounds

1. As North Carolina has great seasons, Arctic foxes fit right in. Arctic foxes change outfits with the seasons. Arctic foxes change color over the year, and shed and regrow their coats to adapt to seasonal temperatures. Their coats are around 200% denser in winter than in summer.

2. Most don’t live past a few years in the wild. Many wild arctic foxes don’t live past a few years in the wild. Many don't make it past the first year, due to the harsh living conditions and number of predators. Their predators include golden eagles, wolves, polar and grizzly bears, wolverines and the larger red fox.

3. Arctic foxes are fast! Their top speed is 30 mph.

4. They have huge litters known as kits. Arctic foxes produce the largest litter of any mammal in the order Carnivora. Artic foxes can have up to 25 kits at once. This is thought to be an adaptation to the low survivability rates of kits in their highly demanding Arctic habitat. Arctic foxes can have two litters a season. they are true romantics. Arctic foxes are monogamous, mating for life.

5. Similar to polar bears, arctic foxes have dark skin under their white coats, which is better at retaining heat in their freezing cold habitat.

6. Arctic foxes don’t hibernate through the winter, but they do have the ability to alter their metabolism through the seasons. Their basal metabolic rate can change by as much as 36%, slowing down in the winter to conserve energy and then speeding up in summer when it’s time for breeding and rebuilding their fat reserves.

7. Arctic Foxes bury hundreds of food caches in summer and rely on them all year. The summer is a time of plenty for the Arctic fox, and they take full advantage by collecting and burying as much food as they possibly can. The frigid soil acts like a giant freezer and preserves it for a long time- foxes have been observed storing goose eggs in summer and feeding on them right through the winter, well into the following spring.

8. Arctic foxes have excellent insulation. Arctic foxes have the most insulating fur of any mammal and the only furry foot pads in the family Canidae, Arctic foxes are well equipped to face the bitter cold of the Arctic winter. Arctic foxes comfortably participate in a North Carolina ritual: seasonal weight gain! They are capable of gaining up to 50% of their weight in extra fat during the summer.

9. Arctic foxes have incredibly keen noses; they are capable of smelling a polar bear kill from as far as 25 miles away. They are also thought to actively track down polar bears in the hopes of scavenging on their kills.

10. They snow dive for lemmings! Arctic foxes can sniff out a frozen lemming beneath 27 inches of snow. When they have sniffed out a lemming burrowing under the snow, they will jump in the air and nose dive into the snow to catch their prey. In some areas, they depend so much on lemmings as their main food source, their population numbers will fluctuate in response to lemmings own populations.

11. Most Arctic foxes are territorial, but not all. The majority of Arctic foxes maintain a home range, regularly making short commute trips between their dens, hunting grounds and food caches. Less than 5% of arctic foxes are fully nomadic, and these tend to be found in areas where food is consistently scarce year-round where they can travel hundreds of miles in search.

12. Arctic foxes and red foxes don’t get along. In areas where Arctic and red foxes share the same space, red foxes are dominant; they will kill Arctic fox adults and kits whenever they find them.

13. Arctic foxes are banned from New Zealand to protect its many rare, endemic species at extreme risk from invasive predators. 

14. They are sometimes referred to as the polar fox, the white fox or snow fox.

15. A highly adaptable species, Arctic foxes can be found throughout the Arctic tundra, in boreal forests and isolated islands within the Arctic circle, and have even been observed on sea ice close to the North Pole.

16. Around 90% of Arctic foxes are white in the winter and brown in the summer, and are usually found in snowy tundra habitats where their camouflage conceals them from predators and prey throughout the year. The remaining 10% are a dark grey colour and are known as blue morphs.

17. They have large fluffy tails and these rare specimens tend to occupy coastal habitats where they blend in with exposed rock. They live in family groups, of male, female and their kits.

18. The arctic fox is omnivorous and opportunistic dye to living in some of the harshest places on the planet where they will diet on small rodents, in particular lemmings, as well as voles, fish and birds. They will eat almost anything they come across though, and supplement meat with carrion, berries and insects.

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