North American Arctic Fox

by: Hannah Gallant

Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Canidae

Genus: Alopex

Species: lagopus

Common Name: Arctic Fox

Description / Appearance

    The Arctic Fox measures 3 - 3.5 feet in length from head to tail. The
    weight of the Arctic Fox can range from 6 - 9 pounds, with females
    being smaller than males. Like many animals of the tundra, Arctic
    Foxes have special adaptations to help them survive in extremely cold
    climates. These adaptations include fur on its paws to help keep them
    warm, a thick, dense coat of fur around its body, short ears, a small
    body, and a large and bushy tail that it uses to curl around its body. The Arctic Foxes fur changes thorughout the seasons to match witht he climate. In the winter they have a thick fluffy white coat to help keep them warm but once summer copmes around they shed their thick coat into a brown/ grey colored coat.


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Feeding Patterns/ Diet

Surprisingly, Arctic Foxes are omnivores. They feed on lemmings, voles, Arctic Hares, birds and their eggs, and carrion. A famiy of Arctic Foxes can eat dozens of lemmings every day! Fish under the surface of ice are also part of their diet. During April and May, they feed on the Ringed Seal pups that are helpless and confined to their dens. Any extra food they may have is buried and saved for when it is needed, and when meat is not available to them, Arctic Foxes may also eat fruit and berries. When food is scarce, Arctic Foxes may even eat the leftovers of other animals' meals. The Arctic Fox's diet is varied.
Arctic Foxes locate their prey under the snow, and then capture, kill, and consume it. They walk along the snow, listening with their sensitive hearing. Once an Arctic Fox locates a small animal, it will either dig it up or jump on the snow in order to break through so that it can access the prey hidden beneath.


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Habitat of Arctic Foxes

Arctic Foxes are native to the cold Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They have a circumpolar range, meaning they can be found throughout the entire Arctic. They live in places such as the outer edges of Greenland, Russia, Canada, Alaska, Iceland, and other locations. The Arctic Fox is, in fact, the only land mammal native to Iceland. The combined populations in Finland, Norway, and Sweden is an estimate of about a mere 120 adult individuals.
The Arctic Foxes' adaptations allow them to live in such an extreme environment. They live in treeless terrain, with temperatures ranging between -76 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit yearly. Their coats change with the seasons to blend in with white surroundings in winter and darker surroundings in the summer. They often live in a den dug into the side of a hill, cliff, or riverbank. Although the Arctic Fox's surroundings change throughout the year, it adapts to meet its current needs.


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