Last Reviewed and Updated on November 2, 2022
Due to arctic foxes’ thick coats, they can roam in some of the harshest and coldest climates on Earth. They can be found in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere across Europe, Asia, and North America. They are true foxes and are also commonly known by names such as the white fox, polar fox, and snow fox. Read on and learn some of the most interesting facts about Arctic foxes.
1. The color of their fur changes with the seasons
We’re kicking off this list of facts about Arctic foxes with their fluffy fur. The fur color of arctic foxes changes with the seasons; during the winter, the coat becomes white or whiter. This helps these foxes with thermoregulation as well as provides better camouflage to keep them safe from predators as well as more effective when it comes to hunting. When temperatures start to rise, and summer is on the horizon, these foxes begin to melt their inter coats; a thinner two-toned fur replaces it.
2. In the wild, most do not live past their first year
The average lifespan of a fox that makes it to adulthood is three to four years, however often, only about half the pups make it to the first year. This is due to predators and scarce food.
They can reach over 10 years of age if they are lucky.
3. They are the only canid whose foot pads are covered with fur
This is one of the adaptations to the harsh environment they live in. Their footpads are covered in fur that both provides better insulation as well as making their grip on the ice better. This makes them better hunters as well as harder to catch prey.
4. There are two distinct color morphs
The color morphs are white and blue. White morphs have white coats in winter and brown and light gray coats in the summer. The blue morph usually has dark blue, brown, or gray color year round. 99% of the arctic fox population are white morphs.
5. Arctic foxes don’t hibernate
These foxes are active year-round and don’t hibernate. However, they still preserve fat and energy by reducing their activity in the winter. They build up their fat reserves in the fall, they can increase their body weight by more than 50% at this time.
6. Arctic foxes are well adapted to cold and will shiver only when temperatures are bellow
They can easily withstand temperatures unimaginable by us. Arctic foxes won’t start shivering until the temperature drops to −94 °F / −70 °C. Their multilayered fur provides excellent insulation.
7. They hunt their prey as well as scavenge on carcasses
They are not picky eaters, they will eat any small animal they can find, from lemmings, hares, and birds to rodents. If they stumble upon a carcass left by other predators, no matter the size or species of the carcass, they will happily feed upon it too.
Lemmings are their favorite prey, where they are present.
8. Arctic foxes are considered omnivores
Most of their diet consists of meat, but they also eat eggs, berries, and seaweed, so they are considered omnivores.
9. They are losing ground to red foxes
Climate change is making habitats that were previously ideal for arctic foxes only interesting to red foxes as well. Where the ranges of red foxes overlap with the arctic fox, the red fox is gaining ground; they are killing the arctic foxes and their kits.
Also read: different types of foxes
In addition to that, it is possible the decline of the gray wolf population that kept the population of red foxes in check also contributed to red foxes expanding their territories.
10. They cover their heads with their tail when they sleep
Their fluffy tail offers fantastic insulation.
11. Their reproduction depends on the number of lemmings
Now, this is one of the more interesting facts about Arctic foxes. Lemmings are the main prey of Arctic foxes in the tundra, and it is because of this, these foxes are also often called the lemming fox. The population of lemmings cyclically fluctuates every 3 to 5 years. When there is an abundance of lemmings, the arctic fox can give birth to as many as 18 pups. When the population density of lemmings is at its lowest, the foxes might not reproduce at all.
In areas where food availability is consistent, so is the number of pups per year.
12. When there is an abundance of food, these foxes store it for later
They make caches of food, burying any surplus food as a reserve to use at a later time.
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