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Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox Facts

Size 20-24 in (50-60 cm) (body); 14 in (35 cm) (tail)
Speed Up to 28 mph (45 km/h)
Weight 6.6-17.6 lb (3-8 kg)
Lifespan 3-6 years
Food Lemmings, birds, carrion, feces of polar bears
Predators Snowy owls, wolves, Polar bears
Habitat Arctic region
Order Carnivores
Family Dogs
Scientific name Vulpes lagopus
Characteristics White winter coat, brown summer coat

Main Characteristics

Arctic foxes are classified as foxes. The best known fox species are of course the red fox and the Arctic fox, yet there exist 15 species altogether (such as the fennec fox, Tibetan sand fox, bat-eared fox and the gray fox etc.).

Arctic Fox Photo: outdoorsman/Shutterstock

Distribution and Habitat

The Arctic fox lives in the Arctic region, where temperatures can be as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius). Brrr! Even Eskimos would shiver there, because where they live, temperatures “only” reach -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) during the winter. Their habitat is mainly the tundra, but they can also survive on the pack ice.


Anatomy and Appearance

The Warmest Fur of all Mammals

The fur of the Arctic fox is extremely dense, with about 70% undercoat. The Arctic fox is wearing some “ski underwear”, so to speak. To lose as little heat as possible, the Arctic fox has also rounded ears, a short muzzle and short legs. The Arctic fox has a thick coat on its paw pads as well to provide protection against the cold and safe walking in the loose snow.

Arctic Fox Photo: outdoorsman/Shutterstock


Arctic foxes feed on lemmings, hares, mice, birds, berries, insects and carrion.

They Follow Polar Bears Around

Arctic foxes often stick to the heels of the polar bears because they leave behind the remains of seals and other animals. Yet they hardly ever have conflicts with polar bears because Arctic foxes keep a safe distance to the Polar bears. In order to get at least something to eat in the inhospitable Arctic region, the Arctic fox even feeds on the feces of polar bears, because it contains large amounts of fat. Yuck.


Do They Hibernate?

No, Arctic foxes don't hibernate.


Arctic Fox Photo: BMJ/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

Sense of Hearing

Arctic foxes have an excellent sense of hearing. They can hear small rodents below (!) the snow cover. They also have a very good sense of smell.

They Change Their Fur Color

Depending on the season, the Arctic fox changes the color of its coat. During the winter it is white as snow and during the summer, when the ice has molten in the tundra, it is greyish-brown. So he is well camouflaged throughout the year.

Arctic Fox Photo: AdStock RF/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Its enemies include wolves, grizzly bears, wolverines, snowy owls and polar bears.


The icy temperatures would make the young animals die from the cold immediately after birth. Therefore, Arctic foxes make use of warm and cozy dens with underground tunnels that are not affected by the bitingly cold permanent frost. The babies are born after a gestation period of about 50 days. They spend the first 3-4 weeks in the den. By the way, couples of Arctic foxes maintain a life-long partnership, cooperate to defend their territory and take care of their offspring together.

When female Arctic foxes give birth, they usually have about 5-8 babies, hoping that at least a few of them would survive the icy cold.

The Arctic Fox Is Related To:

  • Bat-Eared Fox
  • Common Raccoon Dog
  • Fennec
  • Red Fox

Animals in the Same Biome:

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