Arctic Fox
Alopex lagopus

Photo: Arctic fox in the snow
The lush white coat of the arctic fox provides both warmth and camouflage in winter.
Photograph by Norbert Rosing
Map: Locator map for the arctic fox
 Arctic Fox range

Fast Facts

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Average lifespan in the wild: 3 to 6 years
Size: Head and body, 18 to 26.75 in (46 to 68 cm); Tail, up to 13.75 in (35 cm)
Weight: 6.5 to 17 lbs (3 to 8 kg)

The arctic fox is an incredibly hardy animal that can survive frigid Arctic temperatures as low as –58°F (-50°C) in the treeless lands where it makes its home. It has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle—all-important adaptations to the chilly clime. Arctic foxes live in burrows, and in a blizzard they may tunnel into the snow to create shelter.

Arctic foxes have beautiful white (sometimes blue-gray) coats that act as very effective winter camouflage. The natural hues allow the animal to blend into the tundra's ubiquitous snow and ice. When the seasons change, the fox's coat turns as well, adopting a brown or gray appearance that provides cover among the summer tundra's rocks and plants.

These colorings help foxes to effectively hunt rodents, birds, and even fish. But in winter prey can be scarce on the ground. At such times, arctic foxes will follow the region's premier predator—a polar bear—to eat the leftover scraps from its kills. Foxes will also eat vegetables when they are available.

Like a cat's, this fox's thick tail aids its balance. But for an arctic fox the tail (or "brush") is especially useful as warm cover in cold weather.

Female arctic foxes give birth each spring to a large litter of up to 14 pups.