Arctic Fox

Vulpes lagopus

Species Information

Our two arctic foxes, Heath and Margot, are rescues from the fur farm industry. This charismatic duo are always up to no good and especially enjoy tearing up their enrichment items!

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Arctic foxes are found throughout the tundra extending across the northern most regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are generally found on forest edges and coastal areas.

These small foxes are only the size of a large domestic cat. This small canine is able to actively spend the long winters in the artic due to their many well evolved adaptions. For example, they can maintain their core temperature due to the dense fur they grow in winter which traps and insulates warm air. This thick coat is white during the winter which act as effective camouflage amongst the snowy terrain. Yet, in the summer when the snow melts, their fur moults and becomes brown/grey, providing cover amongst rocks and plants and preventing them becoming noticeable to prey!

These opportunistic feeders eat just about anything they come across. Small mammals such as lemmings, squirrels, and voles are a more common food item, but they also poach many eggs and eat birds, insects, berries, and carrion.

Arctic foxes usually live for 3 or 4 years in the wild, but can live up to 14 years in captivity.

Arctic foxes do not hibernate throughout winter, but become more communal, typically establishing small groups in search of food. These nomadic wanderers tend to have large ranges, moving from place to place looking for scarce sources of food. They shelter from the harshest weather by constructing and residing in dens. Their sensitive and excellent hearing helps them to pinpoint small prey, such as lemmings, in tunnels under the deep snow. Once located, they will jump several feet in the air and dive bomb, face first, with their mouth open ready, into the snow to catch the reward.

Arctic foxes are monogamous, usually mating for life. As they do not hibernate, they can have up to two litters a year. The first litter are usually born from April – June, and July – August for the second litter. The gestation period is about 49-57 days.

Least Concern; but are threatened with poaching and farming for their thick fur.

Arctic foxes can endure temperatures as low -70°C! This is because they have the warmest pelt of any animal found in the Arctic.