Are you interested in animals and want to learn more about creatures that live in the coldest parts of the world? If so, you're sure to be fascinated by these arctic fox facts. These cool and curious critters have some truly unique adaptations that allow them to thrive in extreme conditions.
Arctic Fox Facts: Discovering a Cool & Curious Animal
Frigid Arctic Fox Habitat
Arctic foxes live in extremely frigid areas, adjusting their preferred habitat based on seasonal weather patterns.
- Arctic foxes live in arctic and subarctic areas, including Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, and the North Pole.
- Rather than staying in one place all the time, arctic foxes are nomadic. This means they move around from place to place.
- During summer, arctic foxes tend to live near the edge of a forest, in its tundra.
- During winter, they like to spend time on sheets of floating ice.
- They set up dens by burrowing into hillsides, coastal banks or cliffs. During winter, they'll even dig dens out of snowbanks.
- Arctic fox dens are large and have multiple entrances and a tunnel system. Some dens stay in use for hundreds of years, used by multiple generations of foxes.
Interesting Arctic Fox Characteristics
These amazing animals have several interesting characteristics, some of which are unique to arctic foxes while others are shared with other types of foxes.
- Arctic foxes change colors based on the season. Regardless of their summer color, they are white or cream-colored during winter.
- They aren't all the same color during summer. After shedding their winter coat, they revert to either brown, dark gray or bluish-brown until winter arrives.
- Arctic foxes are small. When fully grown, an arctic fox weighs around 15 pounds and is about three feet long (including the tail). They are only about a foot tall.
- As with all foxes, their tails are bushy and long, averaging about 12 inches. This means that approximately one-third of their body length is tail.
- As with other foxes, adult male arctic foxes are called dogs and adult female arctic foxes are called vixens. Baby animals are called cubs, kits or pups.
Fascinating Arctic Fox Adaptations
Arctic foxes have many adaptations that help them thrive in the extreme climate they call home. From growing in their own winter coat to how their bodies are uniquely adapted to frigid arctic and subarctic conditions, these animals are highly adaptable.
- The extremely thick white or cream-colored coat that arctic foxes grow in during winter provides insulation and camouflages them in the snow.
- Arctic foxes have thick, deep fur all over their bodies. This helps to keeps their body temperature at a consistent level regardless of the air temperature.
- During winter, even the soles of their feet (paws) are covered with thick fur. This adaptation makes it possible for them to safely walk on ice and snow.
- Under that fur, arctic foxes have relatively small, rounded bodies. Their shape and size help minimize their exposure to cold hair.
- Their extremities (legs, snout and ears) are short, another feature that aids in heat conservation to boost their ability to stay warm.
Arctic Fox Behavior and Habits
- Unlike some other animals that live in extreme weather conditions, arctic foxes do not hibernate during the winter months.
- Arctic foxes are not solitary creatures. Instead, they tend to band together in small groups that work together in a continual search to find food.
- Arctic foxes will eat just about anything. They are referred to as opportunistic feeders. They prefer meat, but also eat berries, plants and bird eggs.
- They will capture their own prey to eat, such as small mammals, fish, insects or birds, but will also scavenge for carrion or the remains from larger animals' kills.
- During summer, they will hide extra food beneath rocks in their dens to build up a stockpile of food for later.
- During the summer, arctic foxes tend to live in dens as a social family group made up of three adult foxes (one male and two females) and several fox pups.
- One of the females in the social family group will be a non-breeding female whose role is to assist with nurturing the pups.
- Arctic foxes mate between February and July each year. Their litters are born between April and August.
- Because the breeding season is long and the gestation period is short (less than two months), arctic foxes can have two litters of pups each year.
- The adult male participates in raising the pups. His primary role is to bring food to them and their mother and to guard the den.
As you can see from this list of fascinating facts, arctic foxes are truly amazing animals. It's important for kids and adults alike to learn key facts about important members of the animal kingdom. If you enjoyed learning about arctic foxes, take the time to discover more wildlife facts. Start with opossum facts for fun and education. From there, review basic types of animals and their characteristics. Soon you'll be well-versed in animal information.