The arctic fox is well-adapted to the freezing cold temperatures of its habitat, the tundra. It has extra-hairy ears and hairy paws for better insulation, and enhanced blood circulation in its feet so that they won’t freeze on the ice. It has snow-white fur in winter, which changes to gray in summer.
They have excellent hearing, so they can detect exactly where their prey is under the snow, and they attack it right through the snow. They feed mostly on lemmings, so the supply of lemmings in the area greatly affects their survival rate. They have evolved some defenses against this though. When there is a lack of food, the arctic fox can reduce its metabolic rate to conserve energy and still stay active, but if there is an excess supply of food then the fox buries it for later. However, if the food supply is really scarce, then it has to resort to scavenging leftovers from other animals, sometimes even searching for the feces of bigger predators (like the polar bear), which may still contain some nutrients. The arctic fox is in turn prey to the polar bear, the red fox and the golden eagle.
The arctic foxes are very territorial, especially during breeding season. They mark their turf by urinating and vocalizing, and also by showing a defensive stance (where they hold their tail erect). Arctic foxes mate for life and build large dens. Sometimes, multiple generations of a fox family may keep using the same den.
The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Arctic Foxes. Details of the videos featured are underneath.
- Arctic fox cubs play around – Snow Babies – BBC
- Arctic Fox – Michael Fromberg
- Adorable Alopex! Amazing Animal Babies: Arctic Foxes (Ep 9) – Earth Unplugged
- Arctic Fox vs. Murres by NationalGeographic