Arctic Fox

The Arctic Fox has a brownish-gray coat of fur in the summer and a thick white coat in the winter. Its paws have dense pads on them to protect the animal from cold and help it walk on ice to hunt. Arctic foxes are about 1 foot tall and can be up to 3 feet in length including the tail. Most weigh only about 15 pounds. They have short ears and long fur to keep in body heat during cold winters in the northern regions where it lives. Did you know that an Arctic fox can jump more than 2 feet in a single leap?

As the name suggests, the Arctic fox lives in cold tundra and arctic regions. It does not hibernate during the long winters--instead it has special features such as padded paws and long thick fur to help it survive. In addition, its white coat protects it by acting as camulflage against the snow. The Arctic fox makes a home called a den by digging into the side of a cliff or hill. In the winter it will dig more tunnels underground, allowing it to travel without having to spend extra time in the cold. This animal eats lemmings, hares, ground squirrels, voles, birds, and eggs. If it is near water, it may also eat shellfish. Arctic foxes hunt alone, creeping up on its target and springing to kill.

Arctic foxes mate for life. They choose mates in the early spring--males calling and howling to attract females. Once he has chosen a female, the male Arctic fox stakes out and marks territory to prepare to mate. 4 to 10 cubs are born each season in the den, usually in May or June. Both parents care for the cubs, who are helpless at birth. After 2 weeks the cubs open their eyes and by 6 weeks they begin to eat meat instead of only the milk their mother produces. By October the cubs can hunt on their own. Males will soon leave the den to form their own groups.

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