Arctic fox: interesting facts

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The arctic fox, or polar fox (less often the arctic fox) is a small predatory animal resembling an ordinary red fox. Unlike the fox, the arctic fox's body is squat, the muzzle is shortened, the ears are rounded, slightly protruding from the winter coat (this protects them from frostbite).

The soles of the paws of Arctic foxes are covered with coarse hair. The body length is 50–75 cm. The average body weight of a male is 3,5 kg, the maximum is up to 9 kg, and the female is 3 kg.

The arctic fox is distributed in the polar regions of the entire northern hemisphere, occupying all the main biomes of the tundra. This is a typical representative of the fauna of mainland Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska, Canada and islands such as Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard. During winter migrations, the Arctic fox comes to the south of Finland, the southern part of the Baikal region, the lower reaches of the Amur.

The polar fox has a very weakly expressed geographical variability, which is due to the high mobility of the polar fox and the constant mixing of populations.

Arctic fox: interesting facts

wikimedia.org

Arctic fox: interesting facts

pixy.org

The Arctic fox is the only representative of the canine family, which is characterized by pronounced seasonal dimorphism (the ability to exist in different external forms during its life cycle) of color. In total, 10 subspecies of arctic foxes are distinguished.

By color they are distinguished:

  • ordinary white fox – in winter it is pure white, and in summer it is dirty brown;
  • blue fox – his winter outfit is dark: from sand and light coffee to dark gray with a bluish sheen and even brown with silver.

Blue foxes are found in all populations, but on the mainland they are rare, and on some islands, on the contrary, they prevail.

The spring molt of arctic foxes, as a rule, begins in March-April and lasts up to 4 months. Autumn – from September to December. The best fur for arctic foxes is in January-February.

Arctic fox: interesting facts

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Arctic fox: interesting facts

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Typical habitats for Arctic foxes are open tundras with hilly terrain. On sandy hills and coastal terraces, he digs holes, complex underground labyrinths with many entrances. The Arctic fox digs its burrow in soft soil surrounded by stones (they protect the entrance from being dug up by large predators) to the level of permafrost, deepening it as the soil thaws. Burrows are never further than half a kilometer from water.

There are few suitable places for building burrows in the tundra, so Arctic foxes use them for years, sometimes for 15–20 years in a row, and intermittently for hundreds and even thousands of years, so that some hills are completely pitted. Less often, arctic foxes settle among placers of stones or in piles of driftwood on the coast. In winter, the arctic fox is often content with a simple den in the snow.

The arctic fox is omnivorous; its diet includes about 125 animal species and 25 plant species. However, it is based on small rodents, especially lemmings, as well as birds. It feeds on both washed ashore and caught fish, as well as plant foods: berries (blueberries, cloudberries), herbs, algae (seaweed). Sometimes it even attacks reindeer calves that have strayed from the herd. Does not refuse to fall.

On the coast, the Arctic fox often accompanies polar bears, and he gets some of the meat of the killed seals. Finally, he eats animals caught in traps, making no exception even for other arctic foxes. In summer, it stores excess food in the den for the winter.

The arctic fox has well-developed hearing and sense of smell; slightly weaker – vision. The voice is a yapping bark.

Arctic fox: interesting facts

wikimedia.org

Arctic fox: interesting facts

pixabay.com

A typical fox family consists of a male, a female, young females from a previous litter, and cubs from the current year. Usually families live separately, but they can also settle in colonies of 2-3 families. The habitat area of ​​the fox family ranges from 2 to 30 km². The polar fox spends a significant part of the year roaming in search of food. By the time of breeding, polar foxes return to those places from which they migrated in autumn and winter, and either occupy ready-made burrows or dig new ones.

Pregnancy is 49–57 days; in a litter of 7–12 or more cubs (the largest number among predators). The male, along with the female, takes care of the offspring. White foxes are born covered with dark, smoky-brown fur, blue foxes are almost brown.

The number of arctic foxes is subject to sharp fluctuations depending on the abundance of food, especially lemmings (who are lemmings, read in our article ☛). Migration has a great influence on the number of local populations. Every autumn, many animals that inhabit the tundra head south along the sea coasts and river valleys. In the spring, arctic foxes gradually return back. In famine years, these migrations take on a particularly massive character. Many of the nomadic animals die.

The arctic fox is pursued by larger predators. He is attacked by foxes, wolverines and wolves; young foxes are seized by eagles and snowy owls.

The life expectancy of arctic foxes in their natural habitat is on average 6–10 years, with a maximum of 16 years.

Arctic fox: interesting facts

wikipedia.org

Arctic fox: interesting facts

pixabay.com

The arctic fox, an important game animal, is a source of valuable fur; in the north, it forms the basis of the fur trade. The skins of the blue fox, which is also the object of cell breeding, are especially valued. On the islands, surrounded by a non-freezing sea, semi-free breeding has been established – arctic foxes live in freedom and, on a signal, resort to special traps for food. There are farms for breeding arctic foxes in the northern and middle latitudes of America, Europe and Asia.