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threatened and/or endangered

Arctic Fox Alopex lagopus


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Arctic Fox, winter coat
credit: Ansgar Walk/CCSA

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Family: Canidae, Dogs view all from this family

Description Unique northern fox well adapted for living in harsh Arctic climate with distinctive color and short legs, snout, and ears. Unique among canids in having fur color that varies geographically and seasonally. Coastal populations are typically bluish gray in winter and dark bluish gray or chocolate-brown in summer. Continental foxes are usually white in winter and grayish brown in summer. Eyes have golden irises; soles of feet are furred. Thick, luxurious pelage insulates animals down to -70C.

Dimensions 83-110cm, 28-42cm, 3.2-9.4kg; / 71-85cm, 26-32cm, 1.4-3.3kg

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries

Range Alaska

Discussion Often bold in the presence of humans. Nocturnal except in Arctic summer. Hunts seabirds and small mammals alone, may scavenge in pairs or small groups. Introduced on several coastal islands, where they are farmed and harvested for the valuable fur. Populations cycle in concert with expanding prey populations, such as lemmings and voles. Inhabits Arctic tundra.