Arctic Fox

Vulpes lagopus

Scientific Name

Arctic Fox:  
Vulpes lagopus

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Arctic foxes live in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, northern Europe and Russia.

Natural Habitat

The Arctic fox lives its whole life above the northern tree line in the Arctic tundra.

Physical Characteristics

  • The Arctic fox is the smallest member of the canine family. It is adapted well for sub-zero temperatures. This species has a winter-white coat during the winter that turns brown on the upperparts during the summer. The “white” form may also appear “bluish” in the winter. This dense fur can insulate against temperatures of -50 degrees C. Arctic Foxes have small, heavily furred ears and short noses to reduce heat loss. The fur on the soles of their feet also provides traction on slippery surfaces. They also possess the mechanism rete mirabile, where the blood entering the paws is used to heat up the blood that is leaving, preventing heat loss.  The Arctic foxes range in size from 18-26 inches, with tails about 13 inches long. Their weight ranges from 6.5-17 pounds.  Their life span is three to six years in the wild.

Quick Facts

  1. The Arctic Fox lives in underground burrows that have 100 doors!  Arctic Foxes live in underground burrows that have up to 100 entrances. These burrows are usually very old (hundreds of years) and used by numerous generations of families. They need these burrows to protect against the harsh weather. They also like to curl up and wrap their tail around them for extra insulation!

  2. They have amazing hearing and can hear animals under the snow and can pinpoint their exact location to pounce on them.


Arctic Edge

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The Arctic Fox is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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The Arctic Foxes’ main food is the lemming. When lemmings are numerous in the wild, the populations of Arctic foxes rises.  They also dine on sea birds, sea bird eggs, seal pups and fish.