The Arctic Fox And Survival In The Wild

The arctic fox has many mechanisms that help it survive in the unforgiving arctic areas. Info on its size coloring, hunting techniques and more.

The genus Alopex contains but one species, that is Alopex lagopus, the Arctic fox. The polar bear and this fox have penetrated further north into the Arctic than any other land mammal. The Arctic fox lives in the Arctic regions around the North Pole, mostly above the timberline nears the sea coasts, however it has been discovered miles offshore on floating ice floes.

There are two colors, or phases, of the Arctic fox, white and blue. In the winter, the normally blue-gray fox begins to change color. Its coat begins to thicken and its hair gets lighter, starting at the tips and gradually working its way down to the base. Once the change is complete, the Arctic fox is almost totally white, blending in perfectly with its wintery white environment. The blue fox is actually a black or steel gray, chestnut or light gray with a white spot on its chest in color. This phase of Arctic fox does not change colors in the winter, as such, it usually populates an area where there is no permanent snow cover, due to the fact its coloring would make it stand out and put the fox at a disadvantage.

The Arctic fox is a small animal. Not counting its tail, it usually measures between 23 and 26 inches in length. It has a shorter muzzle and paws than other foxes. Also smaller are its ears. Scientists believe that the small ears are due to the bitterly cold environment of the Arctic region in which it survives. The Arctic fox needs to conserve all the heat it can, thus cannot afford to have the large ears of other species of fox.



The Arctic fox can sometimes be considered a scavenger, following the polar bear across the wild and eating his leftovers. Similar to the habits of the jackal following the lion, the Arctic fox must be careful when scavenging behind the polar bear as they are definitely a part of the polar bear's diet. In especially hard times, the Arctic fox will even depend on the droppings of the polar bear to survive. However, this is not the only way the Arctic fox survives. Lemmings are another food source for the Arctic fox. In fact, the lemming population is usually a direct factor in the size of the fox population, the more foxes there are, the less lemmings survive that year. Also on the menu of the Arctic fox are the local birds and eggs. The have become so skilled at hunting its feathered neighbors, that only those bird who have developed special defense mechanisms against the fox can hope to survive long in his neighborhood.

The Arctic fox will usually lives in burrows it has dug into the side of a hill or cliff. During particularly rough blizzards, he may even dig directly into the snow to create a burrow for shelter. The Arctic fox is especially well suited for this as they have adapted themselves to the cold so well. They have been known to withstand temperatures of negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The Arctic fox is but one example of an animal overcoming all odds to adapt, survive and even thrive in one of the harshest environments on Earth.

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