Destinations: Bear Island, Greenland, Svalbard, Iceland
Name: Arctic Fox (a.k.a White Fox, Snow Fox, Polar Fox) (Vulpes lagopus)
Length: 75 to 100 cm (including tail)
Weight: 3 to 8 kg
Location: The Arctic
Conservation status: Least Concern
Appearance: White in winter, brown (brown/white spotted) in summer. About 10% of the population stays dark during winter and is termed “Blue fox”. His type was particularly valuable to the trappers during the trapper period.
Foxes will eat just about anything they can get their paws on. During summers lemmings will often be the main part of their ration, but they’ll also go after birds, eggs, and even seal pups. The fact that their coats change colour the year round means they are always camouflaged and able to sneak up on prey. With its wide (but short) ears an Arctic Fox can hear its prey moving under snow. Once it has located its next meal, the fox will pounce straight up then down right on top of their victim. In the fall they’ll work hard to store up body fat, increasing their weight by up to 50%. During winter, when food becomes much more scarce, the foxes will often follow polar bears around and then scavenge what they can off of a kill once the bear is done.
Arctic Foxes are generally independent until they mate, which means their territory has fewer mouths to feed come winter.
Arctic Foxes are quite fleet when they want to be, sprinting up to nearly 50 km per hour.
Breeding season occurs during April and May, when foxes will mate in monogamous pairs. The couple will either dig out a new den, or move into a pre-existing one. These dens can often contain a long network of tunnels covering as much as 1000 m2. The pregnancy lasts about 52 days when a litter of 5-10 offspring, called “kits,” are born. Both the mother and the father are present to help raise the young. The kits first emerge from the den about a month after being born, and are weaned off their mother’s milk after a further 4 or 5 weeks.
Arctic Foxes generally live from 3 to 6 years.
There isn’t a solid number regarding Arctic Foxes, though they’re estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Their population fluctuates depending on the availability of food sources, especially the lemming population. However the populations of Finland, Norway, and Sweden is estimated to be only about 120 adults.
Grey Wolves were traditionally the biggest predator Arctic Foxes had to face. But because of global warming the territories of Artic Foxes and Red Foxes are overlapping, causing a new and increasing threat to Artic Foxes. Artic Foxes were a mainstay of fur trappers thanks to their luxuriously warm and beautiful coats.