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Arctic Fox

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Canidae
Genus:Vulpes
Species:V. lagopus

Description: The Arctic fox is an amazingly hardy little fox that can survive in temperatures down to -58 degrees (F) because of it's thick, double layered coat.

It's short ears, muzzle, and furry pads on it's feet help it adapt to it's harsh winter climate. During the summer, you may see it's coat change to a more blue-ish gray hue, while staying perfectly white in the winter. This helps camouflage it against the snowy landscape and effectively hunt rodents, fish, eggs, carrion, and even birds.

 To stay warm and have protection from predators, they live in burrows. The fox has a thick tail that helps it balance, much like a cat.

In the wild, it only has an average lifespan of 3-6 years, however in captivity it has an average of 12-14. Weighing in a range of 6-17 pounds, most people don't realize the majority of their body is fur. During the summer they have a darker coat (pictured below) and during winter a white coat (left).

Diet: This fox is an omnivore in the wild, so it's diet should reflect this. While a constant healthy kibble should be placed down at all times, it should get a combination of vegetables, fruits, and some grains sparingly. A mixture of high end cat and dog kibble would be best, along with added in vitamins if possible to help boost the taurine levels. When hunting in the wild, it will pounce through the snow to catch it's victim.

Reproduction: The Arctic Fox tends to be active not only in the spring, but from September to May. The Arctic fox has the largest reproduction rate in the order Carnivora, and usually have an average of 6 to 8 kits but have been reported of having up to 25. The gestation period is 52 days, and after the kits are born, the father helps stay to raise the young, with the mother leaving to eventually form their own groups.

As A Pet: While I cannot personally say from experience (an Arctic Fox is one of the few species of fox I have not met), I have heard multiple accounts of the smell. Arctic foxes secrete odor from glands under their fur and also have extremely odorous urine that has been described as similar to the spray a skunk would emit.

They also have been described to be temperamental, stubborn, and hard to train. But, they can be trained and cared for, as I have seen multiple accounts of people having them as pets. They tend to do best in an outdoor enclosure, as they are destructive like Red Foxes, but still need to be taken out and given plenty of attention. It is good to remember that foxes need more human interaction than dogs, since they instinctively tend to be fearful of humans.

Arctics should be adopted early, otherwise multiple issues can occur, such as fearfulness of the new owner, improper socialization, etc. I have seen accounts of this species of fox getting along extremely well with other dogs, and when out of the enclosure being kept in a domestic dog-like setting. 

Range: Obviously their fur is suited for a cold climate, and their range reflects this. They have two coats that help them in the northern environment they thrive in, a summer coat and a thicker winter coat.

 

Sources accessed and modified: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com