The arctic fox is a small fox. He lives in the far north, in the Arctic, where there are only bushes and no trees. This is the tundra. The arctic fox is also called the arctic fox.
The arctic fox is small: from the snout to the buttocks, it measures only about 30 to almost 60 centimeters. That’s as much as one or two rulers at school. From the soles of his feet to his back he measures only about 30 centimeters. Its bushy tail is slightly longer.
The arctic fox has adapted very well to the cold: no other animal has such thick fur as it. He even has hair on the soles of his feet. Because its ears, muzzle, and legs are short, it loses less heat.
The fur is light on the belly in summer, the other parts are brown. Because then there is no snow on the tundra, it is perfectly camouflaged. In winter its fur is white. It is hardly recognizable in the snow.
How does the arctic fox live?
Arctic foxes are predators and omnivores. They like a special kind of mice best, namely the lemmings. With their fine noses, they smell the lemmings through the snow and dig them up so quickly that they can no longer escape. Sometimes they also catch an arctic hare. However, they also eat birds that breed in their nests, as well as eggs and chicks. They also eat carrion, i.e. parts of carcasses left over by polar bears or arctic wolves. It could also be the remains of fish. If necessary, they also eat insects, berries, and even the droppings of other animals.
They build caves to raise their young. To do this, they look for a place that is not frozen, i.e. where there is no permafrost. They dig tunnels with up to eight entrances in the sandy or loamy soil. Such burrows can be used by various arctic foxes for several hundred years.
Arctic foxes are monogamous, meaning they stay together as a pair for life. They father their young in the spring. After almost two months, the female gives birth to three to nine young. That depends very much on the availability of food and the climate. The babies are blind, deaf, and have no teeth. The young stay in the birth cavity for about four weeks and drink milk from their mother for about six weeks. The male, as the father is called, helps raise the young. In autumn, however, the parents reject their young. They then have to see for themselves how they get through the winter. Those who survive it can reproduce in the spring.
Most arctic foxes live to be around four years old. Their natural enemies are the arctic wolf and the polar bear. However, due to climate change, more and more red foxes are penetrating the north. They are larger and therefore stronger than arctic foxes. The red foxes are therefore increasingly threatening the arctic foxes.
The worst disease for arctic foxes is rabies. They often die from it. They can also get sick from viruses or parasites. The fox tapeworm settles in the digestive organs.
Another important enemy is the man. Especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Eskimos hunted arctic foxes. Their thick white fur could easily be traded or sold. As a result, there are still very few arctic foxes in Scandinavia and Iceland. In the other areas, they have multiplied again. Currently, they are not threatened with extinction. However, they are among the animals most affected by climate change.