A shortened snout and tiny round ears (smallest among foxes) help the arctic fox reduce heat loss, hair on the soles of its feet insulate against the cold ground, and a very thick winter fur keeps it so warm that it doesn't begin to shiver until the temperature drops to about minus ninety degrees Fahrenheit (-70°C).
This fox is the only canid with a coat that changes color seasonally; its winter coat is white and its summer coat is blue-gray or gray-brown.
A nocturnal burrower, the arctic fox is occasionally seen by day hunting small mammals.
Its diet also includes birds and their eggs, carrion, and berries.
In years when food is scarce, arctic fox populations decline and no young are produced.
Name: Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus)
Family: Canidae (Dogs and Relatives)
Range: Arctic and tundra of North America, Europe, and Asia
Diet: Lemmings, other small mammals, insects, sea birds, fish, seals, berries, and carrion
Head and Body Length: 20 to 27 inches (50 to 70 cm)
Tail Length: 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm)
Shoulder Height: 9 to 11 inches (22 to 27.5 cm)
Weight: 7 to 18 pounds (3 to 8 kg)
Life Cycle: Mating May to June; gestation 49 to 57 days, usually three or four kits born
Description: Heavy white coat during winter; thinner brown coat during summer; short ears; short, stocky body; short legs; long, bushy tail
Conservation Status: Common