Wildwood Kent
Wildwood Kent
Wildwood Kent

Arctic Fox

Vulpes lagopus

 

Description

Highly adapted to extreme winter conditions. Similar in size to a red fox, can weigh between 3-8kg. Striking thick, fluffy coat which is also used as camouflage. The coat colour depends on time of year; during the summer, coat colour can be greyish brown (known as the “blue” phase), during the winter the coat changes to the thick characteristic “white” phase.

Distribution

Found throughout the Arctic in tundra habitats within North America, Asia and Northern Europe.

Habitat

Arctic tundra, which are stark and open landscapes with few plants and mainly heathland. Can also be found in Arctic coastal areas free of ice.

Diet

Opportunistic predators and scavengers; they eat anything smaller than them that they can get hold of. Can be heavily dependent on rodent populations (such as lemmings which is their main prey item). Birds, reindeer, grouse, seal, invertebrates and fish have also all been recorded as food items eaten by Arctic foxes.

Behaviour

Are active all year round, they do move around less before winter in order to preserve fat reserves. Insulation in winter is dependent on these fat reserves which they build up during the autumn; couple that with their thick fluffy coat and long bushy tail which they use to keep warm when they curl up tightly. Using their acute hearing and keen smell, they can locate prey under the ice and pounce into the snow to catch them hidden beneath.

Status

Arctic foxes were present in the UK at the time of the last Ice Age. As the climate warmed, and the ice receded, so did the range of the Arctic fox

Threats

Climate change has historically affected the range and distribution of Arctic foxes. Hunting for furs has also been a long term threat; in recent years the fur hunting industry has declined, which means pressures have also subsided. Competition and other associated problems (such as disease transmission, predation of kits, and interbreeding) with the presence of other species such as the eed fox and domestic dogs is having a dramatic effect on some populations.

Wildwood

Here at Wildwood we have two adult Arctic foxes; Teddy and his niece Flo. You can regularly see our foxes cuddled up sleeping outside in their enclosure. Be sure to visit in both winter and summer to compare their drastic coat transformation. If you would like to get up close and personal to our Arctic foxes, check out our experience page.

Did you know?

The beautiful coat of the Arctic fox is the warmest of any animal in the Arctic. They can withstand temperatures down to -70°C.