We currently have three Arctic foxes at the Park.
Our female, May, and male, Bard, both arrived at the Park in November 2018. In spring 2019 May gave birth to a litter of 10 cubs. Sarah, their daughter, is now fully grown and has remained at the Park while the other cubs have moved on to other collections.
The Arctic fox can be found behind the visitor centre and to the right of the muskox viewing platform.
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.
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.