Arctic fox: characteristics and photos

Arctic fox: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus or Alopex lagopus), also known as...

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The polar fox (Vulpes lagopus or Alopex lagopus), also known as arctic fox, is a species of small fox that stands out for its beautiful immaculate white fur. But beyond their appearance, these canines stand out as one of the few species able to hunt and survive in the frozen tundra of North America and Eurasia.

Find out more about fox species thanks to PlanèteAnimal, starting with the arctic fox, we will tell you about its origins, its diet or its mode of reproduction, enjoy reading!


  • America
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Canada
  • Greenland
  • Iceland
  • Russia

Origin of the arctic fox

The arctic fox is a small canine belonging to the genus Vupes, which includes true foxes originating from the northern hemispheric (such as the red fox and the gray fox). Particularly, it is the only species of fox that is part of the fauna of the Arctic Tundra. Its environment extends from the polar regions of Eurasia and North America, from Canada to Siberia, and it also includes the Arctic islands, such as Greenland, Iceland and the Bering Islands.

Despite its small size, arctic foxes are very resistant animals, able to withstand the harsh winters of these regions where temperatures can drop to -50 degrees. Today, 4 arctic fox subspecies are recognized:

  • Alopex lagopus foragorapusis
  • Alopex lagopus fuliginosus
  • Alopex lagopus beringensis
  • Alopex lagopus pribilofensis

Appearance and anatomy of the arctic fox

The organism of polar foxes allows them to survive in an extreme environment such as the North Pole. Their compact body, thick skin and dense coat help them retain heat and insulate themselves from the climatic adversities of the environment. In adulthood, polar foxes measure between 35 and 55 cm, for an average weight of 1.5 and 2.9 kilos for females, and 3.2 to 9.4 kilos for males.

With the arrival of winter, the arctic fox adopts its spectacular winter fur, very voluminous, long and completely white. This fur allows the arctic fox to camouflage itself easily between the abundant snow that covers the landscapes of the arctic tundra during the coldest season of the year.But during the hottest seasons, the fur of the polar fox is less dense and shorter to withstand higher temperatures, and its colors are more gray, even brown. This molting process is essential for this species to be able to adapt to the extreme climatic changes through which the polar zones pass.

The long and voluminous tail of arctic foxes is also an important aspect of their anatomy. In addition to helping them keep their balance, it allows them to stay warm during the winter.

To conclude about the most distinguishable physical characteristics of the polar fox, we must mention its elongated muzzle, which allows it to enjoy a very developed sense of smell, its always alert pointed ears and its dark eyes, essential for its powerful vision which allows them to hunt without too much light.

Arctic fox behavior

Arctic foxes are energetic animals that are active all year round. Although their metabolism becomes a little slower in the winter in order to save energy and retain heat, arctic foxes do not hibernate and are still active during the colder months of the year. They are nocturnal animals as they come out to hunt during the quieter times of the arctic tundra.

As for their diet, the polar fox is an opportunistic carnivorous animal that can feed on the prey it hunts as well as carrion left by polar bears. In case there is not enough food, arctic foxes may migrate to other areas.

It is common for polar foxes to follow in the footsteps of polar bears in order to enjoy their remains. However, they are intelligent and discreet hunters who can catch birds and mammals, their main prey being the lemming.

Reproduction of the arctic fox

Although it is very sociable, the arctic fox is a solitary animal that lives alone and migrates alone in its environment. The pairs are formed during the breeding seasons, which can occur during most of the year, except during the months of July and August. In addition, the arctic fox is a monogamous animal and faithful to its partner, which it will find as soon as the mating season approaches, until one of the two dies. In some cases, several years may pass before an arctic fox mates with another individual after the death of its usual partner.

Like most mammals, arctic foxes are viviparous, which means that fertilization and development of young occurs in the womb of the mother. After mating, females experience a gestation period of 50–55 days, after which they usually give birth to abundant litters, due to the high mortality rate of hatchlings associated with the climatic conditions of their environment.

At each whelping, at least 6-12 foxes are usually born, although there can be litters of over 20. Their development is quite rapid, and the young can begin to become independent of their parents from their eighth month of life. Most arctic foxes will reach sexual maturity in the tenth month of life, although the exact date varies from individual to individual.

State of conservation of the arctic fox

" The arctic fox is currently listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species."

" Its state of conservation is largely due to its great capacity to adapt to human habits. Arctic foxes have been widely adopted as pets by people residing near arctic areas. Moreover, not only is it not recommended to keep a fox as a pet, because it is a wild animal that can easily be affected by stress and transmit certain zoonoses to humans, but this practice is prohibited in most countries. country."

" It is also true that arctic foxes have few predators in their natural habitat, as polar bears generally tend to ignore them, wolves and owls being their main natural threats. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the hunting of arctic foxes has decreased in recent years, due to both changes in the lifestyle of the population and awareness campaigns on their importance for ecosystems. "

Pictures of Arctic Fox

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