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Animals & Attractions

Arctic Fox

In our collection:

We currently have two Arctic foxes. A female called Elf who was born in 2008 and arrived at the park in 2012.

On 29 May 2014 we received a new male Arctic fox from the Czech Republic called Kilian. He was born in May 2012 and we hope he will be a successful mate for Elf.

Where to see them:

The Arctic foxes can be found behind the visitor centre and to the the right of the muskox viewing platform.

Threats and conservation:

The arctic fox is now extinct in Scotland but was found here up to the last Ice Age. Nowadays, it lives throughout the Arctic region, with Scandinavian animals migrating south to the Baltic coast for the winter.

In the past the Arctic fox was exploited for the fur trade. Although the global population of the Arctic fox is currently stable, some regional populations are declining and are critically low. Regional threats include disease and exposure to toxic pollutants.

The Arctic fox is generally unprotected throughout most of its range, however in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, it has been fully protected for over 60 years. In Greenland, Svalbard, Canada, Russia and Alaska where trapping for fur is common, it is controlled by well-enforced laws requiring trapping permits and specifying a limit in each trapping season.

Find out more

Status

Not Endangered NE
Data Deficient DD
Least Concern LC
Near Threatened NT
Vulnerable VU
Endangered EN
Critically Endangered CR
Extinct in the wild EW
Extinct EX

Least Concern

For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredist.org

Size

Size text here

Population

Population stable as recorded by IUCN June 2014

Habitat

  • Polar regions

    Polar regions

Diet

In The Wild

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is best known for its pristine, white winter coat, however during the summer, the coat becomes dark on the upper side, with light grey or white underneath and is half as thick.

Arctic foxes are well adapted for life at sub-zero temperatures. They have a dense, woolly coat which helps them to survive at temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius. They also have fur on the soles of their feet, and increased blood flow to the foot pads to prevent freezing, as well as small, heavily furred ears and a short nose to help reduce heat loss.

In summertime, the Arctic fox is active both during the day and night in the 24 hour daylight of the Arctic. In winter, they will even forage onto the pack-ice for food, scavenging polar bear kills. They eat mainly small rodents, particularly lemmings, birds' eggs and the young of ground-nesting birds.

During the breeding season a large amount of prey may be killed and buried in the ground on the permafrost. This provides the fox with a deep-frozen food supply for the long, dark winter months. They are a social species, particularly in winter, when they live in small family groups. The female gives birth between April and June to a litter of 4 - 20 pups. She will use a rock fissure or will dig extensive shallow tunnel systems to give birth in.

Meet our Arctic foxes