The arctic fox breeds in the coldest and harsh regions of the world, including North America, Siberia, and Greenland. This small animal has mastered the survival technique of living in the most extreme climates, withstanding temperatures well below zero and sometimes as much as -14 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the smallest of all dog family members, and its adaptation to this environment has made it like no other on planet Earth.
Let's look at some amazing arctic fox facts and explore what it takes to survive in such a hostile environment.
What Do Arctic Foxes Look Like?
The Arctic fox is a small dog-like animal with a long, fox-like tail and a bushy, white body that is almost the same color in winter and summer. They have ears like domestic dogs, but unlike dogs, they are long and pointed. The eyes are set far apart on the fox's head and face, and its muzzle is very strong. Their backs are covered with shaggy fur that varies in length from gray to white, depending on the season.
Arctic Fox Facts For Kids
The Arctic fox belongs to the Canidae family, which includes domestic dogs, wolves, and foxes. The canid family comprises over 30 species that inhabit nearly every continent except Antarctica. This group of animals includes some of the most adaptable and numerous orders on Earth, with representatives in countries as varied as North America, South America, Siberia, Europe, and Africa. The Arctic fox differs from the others in several ways.
1. They have thick fur and a dense undercoat that protects their body from the extremities of their environment. In fact, an arctic fox can easily survive the extremely low temperatures on the tundra by burrowing down into a snowdrift and covering itself with soft bedding. Their mottled fur coloration and efficient body shapes allow them to blend in with their surroundings.
2. Like all canids, the Arctic fox has four legs, a pointed muzzle, and sharp teeth for hunting and defending territory. The Arctic fox is a carnivore, and its diet consists of small rodents, lemmings, and birds. They are very successful in hunting since they can blend into the snow-covered tundra plains with their white fur coat.
3. Their tail is different from that of other foxes, being short and thick compared to the rest of their body. Its tail enables it to balance and move at high speeds to catch voles, lemmings, and other small animals in the snow. The fox moves silently through the snow.
4. The Arctic Fox has a very good sense of smell and hearing, well adapted to hunting in the snow. They can pick up sounds and smell of prey at the bottom of snow drifts.
5. Arctic Foxes mate for life.
6. Arctic Foxes can change the color of their fur to match their surroundings.
7. Their eyes, which can see very well in the snow, provide them with an excellent hunting tool, especially during daylight hours.
Where Do Arctic Foxes Live?
The Arctic fox lives all across the Arctic regions of North America, Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia. In some areas, they have populations that exceed 30,000 individuals. They can be found in the tundra regions of Alaska and Canada, where they live in dens behind rocks or logs on the tundra plains.
The Arctic Fox habitat changes with the seasons. In winter, they choose large, snowy areas to build their dens. The snow helps with camouflage and protects it from predators.
In the summer, the Arctic fox lives in brushy areas and will live in dens under decaying logs or other scattered rocks. They do not dig dens in solid ice like some other animals.
The lifespan of an Arctic Fox is usually 3 to 4 years, although there have been cases where individuals have lived for up to 7 years. This can vary depending on location and conditions.
What Do Arctic Foxes Eat?
The Arctic fox is not a picky eater and will happily feast on any of the numerous animals found in its habitat. They are particularly fond of lemmings and voles but also enjoy feeding on eggs, insects, and even crabs. They will also hunt for migrating birds that are exhausted after a long flight. They are opportunistic hunters who will go after any small prey.
The Arctic fox has a powerful sense of smell which helps them look for buried food. When they are out hunting, the fox will sniff the ground intently to detect odor trails from food that might have been buried by other animals, such as squirrels or ground-dwelling birds.
How Do Arctic Foxes Reproduce?
Arctic foxes are pretty much monogamous, mating for life. They begin to look for a mate in their second year, and at this time, they may travel as much as 60 miles in one year in search of a mate.
Breeding takes place in late winter or early spring. A female fox will give birth to between 5 and 9 kits, called cubs, in a den usually located at the base of a cliff or in the roots of an immensely thick tree. The female fox is pregnant for about two months and will not move around much until she gives birth to her young. The gestation period is approximately 50-60 days long.
Can Arctic Foxes Be Tamed?
Yes, the Arctic fox can be tamed. They are good with children and usually very gentle with them. They are known for their intelligence and are easy to train. They do well in households since they do not demand much attention from their owners or other pets.