All About the Arctic Fox

The arctic fox is also known as the polar fox or white fox. It’s a northern fox from the Canidae family. While small in size, this animal shows that it is resilient and adaptable to change.

What You Should Know

The arctic fox is found throughout the Arctic region. It makes its home in the mountains near the sea or the tundra. This fox is a burrow dweller that’s active throughout the day.

It feeds on any animal or plant that’s available. It also follows the polar bear to feed on whatever is remaining from its kill. In summer, the arctic fox eats lemmings and rodents, but will also catch birds when possible. During the winter, it hunts puffins, grouse, and ptarmigan.

What Sound Do They Make?

The arctic fox communicates with others through a variety of sounds. Sometimes they can be heard giving off a loud yowl over a long distance while other noises include a high-pitched sound to signal danger.

In this video, you can hear mating calls from an arctic fox duo.

Group Characteristics

In the winter, almost all of the arctic foxes will commute short distances for three days or less. They do this several times a month in search of food. In Canada, the fox migrates from the archipelago to Greenland or northwestern Canada.

The foxes found closer to goose colonies don’t tend to migrate at all. The majority of them prefer to maintain their territory, even if they do some traveling. As the fox gets older, it’s more likely they will leave home.

The female arctic fox breeds once a year. During this time, she will produce up to 20 pups after a 52-day gestation period. She nurses the pups for around 45 days and they leave the family a few months later. In the wild, they only live to be about three years old but survive up to ten years in a zoo.

How Many are There?

It’s estimated that there are several hundred thousand and are labeled as least concern for extinction risk. Natural predators include polar bears, wolverines, and wolves. The arctic fox also falls victim to fur trading, which increases hunting risk.

Furthermore, climate change plays a part in current fox populations. Since the Arctic temperatures rise at twice the rate of the rest of the world, the fox is at risk. The more the sea ice melts and the sea levels rise, the smaller the arctic fox population becomes.

Watch a Video

In the first video, BBC Earth showcases an arctic fox hunting for food.

In the second one, we see how the fox takes advantage of the leftovers from a polar bear.

Pop Culture

There’s a movie being made called Arctic Dogs. It’s an animated film featuring an arctic fox that works in the mail room. It’s the typical kid’s movie where good must fight evil. Furthermore, the arctic fox is found in most zoos around the country. In Detroit, three sister foxes live in the Arctic Ring of Life, which was rated as the second-best exhibit of any zoo in America by The Intrepid Traveler’s Guide to America’s Best Zoos.

Interesting Facts

The color scheme of an arctic fox is unique. The white phase foxes feature a grayish-brown color in the summer and then turn all white in the winter. Other foxes have a blue phase which showcases itself as a gray color in the summer and gray-blue during the winter.