Arctic Fox

Common Name:
Arctic Fox
Scientific Name:
Vulpes lagopus
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Omnivore
Group Name:
Skulk, leash
Average Life Span In The Wild:
3 to 6 years
Size:
Head and body: 18 to 26.75 inches; tail: up to 13.75 inches
Weight:
6.5 to 17 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Least concern
Current Population Trend:
Stable

The arctic fox is an incredibly hardy animal that can survive frigid Arctic temperatures as low as –58°F in the treeless lands where it makes its home. It has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle—all-important adaptations to the chilly clime. Arctic foxes live in burrows, and in a blizzard they may tunnel into the snow to create shelter.

Arctic Adaptations

Arctic foxes have beautiful white (sometimes blue-gray) coats that act as very effective winter camouflage. The natural hues allow the animal to blend into the tundra's ubiquitous snow and ice. When the seasons change, the fox's coat turns as well, adopting a brown or gray appearance that provides cover among the summer tundra's rocks and plants.

These colorings help foxes to effectively hunt rodents, birds, and even fish. But in winter prey can be scarce on the ground. At such times, arctic foxes will follow the region's premier predator—a polar bear—to eat the leftover scraps from its kills. Foxes will also eat vegetables when they are available.

Like a cat's, this fox's thick tail aids its balance. But for an arctic fox the tail (or “brush”) is especially useful as warm cover in cold weather.

Female arctic foxes give birth each spring to a large litter of up to 14 pups.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Bjorn Anders Nymoen, National Geographic Your Shot

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet