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Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox
Arctic Fox

Alopex lagopus

Status

The arctic fox is native to Labrador and occasionally arrives on the Island via pack ice in Winter and Spring.

Habitat

Arctic fox prefer barren lands, where snow is hard and shallow, as well as around the tops of ponds or river banks.

Range

Arctic foxes are found throughout the northern barren lands of the world. Their range in Canada extends from the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, south to the Southern limit of the barren grounds.

Food

Food preference of arctic hares varies throughout its range. They will eat lemmings, mice, nesting and molting birds eggs and flightless young. In marine areas, small marine animals and fish make up their diet. They will eat the remains of seals and seal pups if stranded on an ice floe at sea. They often follows polar bears to scavenge on seal kill remains.

Predators/Threats

Wolves will occasionally prey on arctic foxes. Golden eagles and bears also pose a threat to young because they can dig them out from the den.

Lifespan

Arctic foxes live for 3 or 4 years in the wild and up to 14 years in captivity.

Appearance

In winter, the arctic fox has a thick white coat. In May, they shed to a two-tone brown fur. Some arctic foxes have a heavy, pale bluish-gray coat in summer (blue fox). They have a compact body, short snout and small ears to minimize heat loss. A thick coat and padded feet help it keep insulated throughout the year; they rarely have to seek shelter, even in winter.

Breeding Biology

Two months before the end of winter, arctic fox start to pair up for mating. The gestation period is between 51-57 days. The mating pair stay together throughout pregnancy and raising of young. An average litter of 11 pups is born in late May/early June.

Average Weight/Measurements

Pups average (.13 lbs)(57 g) at birth; Adults average (5.5 - 20 lbs)(2.5 - 9 kg) and measure (2.6 - 4 ft)(75 - 115 cm) in length.

Notes:

  • Up to 19 pups have been recorded in a litter
  • Some Arctic Fox dens in the Arctic have been in use for several hundred years
  • Arctic Foxes were responsible for bringing rabies to Newfoundland in 1988.

At Salmonier Nature Park:

  • Arctic Foxes have successfully bred in captivity at Salmonier Nature Park in the past.

 

 
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