The Arctic fox has several names. Quite often it is called a polar, arctic, or “borrowed” fox. Sometimes you can meet the romantic and poetic name - "snow fox". This is a mammal predator belonging to the family of canids. It is believed that this animal is better adapted to cold than others and can withstand prohibitively low temperatures (down to -60 ° C).
The arctic fox has a relatively small size. It is very similar to a fox, but has a more squat body, a shortened face and wider rounded ears. The body of an arctic fox is elongated, its length is from 50 to 80 cm. The tail is fluffy in an animal, its length is about 30 cm. Measurements at the withers do not always reach 30 cm.
On average, males weigh about 4 kg. The maximum weight that we managed to fix was 9 kg. Females are slightly lighter: their average weight varies within 3 kg.
Arctic fox differs from foxes and other hounds by pronounced seasonal color dimorphism. This means that one species, depending on the season, has a different color. By color, there are two subspecies of these animals:
- White fox. In summer, the fur of the beast is dirty brown in color; by winter it becomes more dense and pure white.
- Blue fox. In summer, the fur is grayish-brown, and by winter it becomes smoky gray with a bluish tint or becomes similar in color to coffee with milk.
Seasonal color changes are ideal for camouflaging while hunting. In fact, the “blue” arctic fox is not exactly the color designation of fur. This suggests that the animal is rare, and to meet him in nature is a great success.
Fitness to cold
The fox has managed to adapt to the cold due to several natural improvements. First, it is a fur structure. The winter coat of the animal is dense and multi-layered; it perfectly retains heat. Secondly, short rounded ears protrude a little above the coat, this protects them from severe frosts. Thirdly, a shortened face and legs reduce heat loss. Fourthly, even the soles of the paws are covered with fur from arctic foxes: here it is thick and hard, which prevents the animal from frostbite. Thus, nature took care of the fur animal, and the Arctic fox is guaranteed not to freeze in any cold in winter.
By the way, it was the presence of hair on the soles of the paws that gave the scientific name to the species (lagopus). From the Greek language this is translated as “hare's hand”. Therefore, Arctic fox is sometimes called the fox fox.
Since you already know that the animal easily tolerates severe frosts, it will be easy to guess where the arctic fox lives. Fluffy animals perfectly feel beyond the Arctic Circle, inhabit the coast and islands in the Arctic Ocean, are common in the tundra and forest-tundra.
In winter, the arctic fox constantly moves in search of food. He can go to the south of Finland, in the Baikal region and the lower reaches of the Amur. In Russia, Arctic Fox in the tundra and forest tundra is considered a typical representative of the fauna.
Foxes are settling in the burrows. They dig real labyrinths with many moves and exits. Burrows are located in sandy hills or coastal terraces, but stones always surround the entrance, so that larger predators cannot dig it out. Since the place where the arctic fox lives is tundra and forest-tundra, the animal is adapted to life in open hilly relief.
Do you think it is easy to choose a place and dig a hole in permafrost conditions? Arrangement in frozen ground takes a long time. As the soil thaws, the hole deepens. Both blue and white arctic fox pick up places for holes near the water (within half a kilometer). There are not so many suitable places, therefore the family of animals uses one hole for 15-20 years. True, in winter in search of food often have to move around and build a den in the snow. If the snow is deep enough and dense, then the polar fox makes a temporary hole in it. In such a shelter, an animal can wait out bad weather or live for several days during a prolonged search for food.
If there is no way to dig a normal earthen hole, foxes can settle among the rocks or dig up small grooves in the bush. But such cases occur infrequently.
Despite the fact that the arctic fox is a predator, it can be safely called omnivorous. In its diet more than 120 species of animals and about 30 species of plants. Most often in the menu are small rodents and birds. The most common prey is vole lemmings and pied parrots. On the ocean shore, Arctic foxes willingly pick up discarded fish and various algae, especially sea kale. They are very fond of blueberries and cloudberries, if there is no animal food, they can eat herbs.
Arctic foxes can often be seen at the place of hunting polar bears. They pick up the remains of fish and seal meat. In the absence of fresh meat are satisfied with carrion. Hunting traps are often found and they eat any animal in them (even if there is another fox in the trap). Often, fur-bearing animals are watching from a distance for hunting wolves, and then pick up the remnants of their prey. Occasionally they may attack the young of larger animals themselves.
In the summer, animals take down excess food in their burrows, where it persists until winter. Blue and white fox - the animal, the description of which we cite, is fed by the developed hearing and smell, since his eyesight is not very good.
Arctic foxes belong to monogamous species, but in the area of the Commander Islands (Bering Sea) there have been cases of polygamy. Often there are 1 male, 4-5 females and puppies in the family. Often families pick up orphaned adoptees. In huge burrow labyrinths, several families sometimes join together, then foxes live in a small colony. Family hunting lands can be from 5 to 30 km².
In early spring, females begin estrus. During this period, the males often fight, claiming their right to family. The gestation period ranges from 49 to 57 days. Females are quite fertile: each litter is 7-12, and sometimes more babies. The male participates in the care of the offspring on a par with the female. But even in feeding years, despite the care of parents, not all puppies survive.
The adult polar fox has white fur, but is born with a smoky-brown color. Fur baby blue fox almost brown. Kids in the burrow open their eyes only for 10-18 days, and after 6 months they already reach the size of their parents. The first time from a hole puppies are selected in 3-4 weeks. Females can feed milk for 8-10 weeks. Beginning next year, young animals are capable of breeding, but full maturity usually occurs by two years.
What determines the number
The greatest influence on the number of animals has the presence of feed. Despite the fact that the animal is omnivorous, with a small amount of feed, especially lemmings and voles, fewer babies are born and more of them die.
The size of the local population may decrease as a result of mass migration. The outflow begins in the autumn, and in the spring many return to their usual places. But in the years of hunger, many nomadic foxes die.
In addition, the number of affected disease and large predators. And fox is a valuable hunting trophy, which also reduces livestock.
Many predators hunt these animals. Polar owls and eagles are the main danger from the air, and even the crows can drag off the young. On land, the main danger comes from polar bears, wolverines, foxes and large dogs.
When families break up, adult males can tear down young competitors in neighboring sites.
In natural conditions, arctic foxes can live up to 9 years. With artificial breeding, the life of animals is slightly higher - 11-16 years.
Due to the high quality of the fur, the arctic fox is an important commercial animal. In addition to production in the natural environment, cell reproduction is performed. On island farms are semi-free breeding of animals. They are not restricted in movement, but they are accustomed to special signals that are emitted before feeding. For humans, this is a more convenient way to get warm fur than a free hunt for the beast.
Blue fox habitat
Blue fox lives in the tundra. For the life of these animals choose mostly open hilly areas. They live in burrows, which they organize independently, digging up whole underground tunnels in the sandy hills or on the coast. For the arrangement of holes, the arctic fox always chooses an area not far from the water. Unfortunately, there are not so many places in the tundra where it is possible to make a hole, so for life animals can use the same tunnels for a very long time, for decades, and in some cases even hundreds, leaving housing for future generations.
Despite the fact that Arctic fox is considered to be a predator, various plants are also included in the diet of this animal. Of course, the basis of the blue fox menu is birds, as well as various small rodents. This representative does not refuse the dog and from the fish, and there may even be one that was thrown ashore. Arctic foxes are, in a sense, scavengers, as they sometimes eat up leftover food left by polar bears. Quite often they steal prey from hunters, pulling it straight from traps or snares.
Harvesting foxes, the fox mainly uses well-developed hearing and smell. Canine rely on vision to a lesser extent. Fox can be identified not only by appearance, but also by a peculiar yelping that strongly resembles the voice of an ordinary domestic dog.
Arctic fox: description, structure, characteristics. What does a fox look like?
The size of the arctic fox is like a red fox - the body length is 50-75 cm, the tail length is 20-30 cm, and weighs 4-6 kg, although some foxes, fattened during the winter, weigh up to 10-11 kg. Arctic foxes differ from ordinary foxes with shorter ears covered with wool, short paws, the pads of which are also covered with wool.
Arctic foxes have a very thin ear, they also have a well-developed sense of smell, but the sight of these polar animals is somewhat worse, but they also see quite well.
The fox's fur is very thick, and their fur is superior in quality to the fur of many other animals, which, unfortunately, played a very bad service for the foxes themselves, but we'll write about this a little lower. Also, arctic foxes are the only ones from the family of canines, whose wool is able to change its color depending on the season, in summer they look reddish-black or brown, and in winter their wool becomes white or blue.
And Arctic foxes with blue winter fur are much less common, usually their winter coloring is white, and the white color of the arctic fox is naturally white, with no admixture of third-party shades. Arctic foxes with winter blue fur have ashen colors, and it is worth noting that their fur is valued even more than the winter fur of ordinary white foxes.
During the summer period, the foxes' hair is not so thick, but in winter they seem to wear a fur coat, their fur becomes dense, very thick and uniform throughout the body.
Where does the fox live
Arctic foxes live in the northern part of Eurasia and America, also on the many polar islands of the Arctic Ocean. They can be found on the territory of Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia and Iceland. Tundra is the most comfortable habitat for them, but sometimes foxes can be found in the forest tundra, also on the coasts of the northern seas and oceans.
What fox eats
What is a fox in his tundra? This furry animal is a predator, and it combines hunting and freebies. That is, sometimes he does not disdain to eat carrion, so some Arctic foxes specially accompany the polar bears and eat up the remnants of their meal. The fox itself can also hunt, the most frequent prey of these animals are wandering rodents - lemmings. Often, arctic foxes hunt white geese, geese, tundra quails, ruin nests of polar owls, and catch fish.
Arctic foxes themselves can also become prey of other larger polar predators: wolves, wolverines, foxes and the same polar bears. Small foxes can also become victims of birds of prey: eagles, hawks, eagle owls.
But of course, the main enemy of Arctic foxes is man, and their thick fur is to blame for this, which has become the cause of the mass extermination of these amazing animals by hunters and poachers. And this is not surprising, because the fox fur coat is very, very not cheap. Constant hunting for arctic foxes in the last century led to a significant reduction in the population of these animals and even their inclusion in the Red Book. Nowadays, in order to increase their population, special animal farms have appeared, where Arctic foxes are bred. Of course, this is done not only from altruistic motives, some of the poor animals, unfortunately, continue to go into fur coats, which are popular among women.
Also known as Mednov blue fox, so named because of its blue winter fur, which is valued even more than the usual white fur of the white fox. The high value of the fur of this species of arctic fox is determined by its small number. According to zoologists, the population of Mednov fox is 100 individuals, it is not surprising that it is listed in the Red Book as an endangered species, in fact, a victim of human vanity and stupidity. Mednov fox lives on the island of Medny, which is part of the Commander Islands.
Arctic fox at home
For lovers of the exotic, you can try to keep the arctic fox at home. It is best to keep Arctic Fox in a spacious wooden cage. If the arctic fox is small, then it’s better not just to keep it, but with your brother. Feed the arctic fox can be natural food for him: meat, fish, cereals. And if in the winter, he will not consume much food, in summer, when his metabolism speeds up, the arctic fox becomes a real glutton, which is not surprising, because he needs to make fat stores for the winter.
Interesting facts about foxes
- Arctic fox’s sense of smell is so well developed that it can smell lemming even under a layer of snow cover.
- Despite their beauty, cleanliness, these animals do not differ. So in their holes it is quite often possible to find traces of uneaten food and litter.
- Arctic foxes, called the "polar fox" from the usual fox, also adopted cunning with intelligence. Yes, these animals are unusually intelligent, they can easily recognize human traps, confuse traces, pretend to be dead, so that they can quickly run away.
Where does the fox live?
Arctic fox is common around the entire North Pole. He is a native inhabitant of the arctic tundra. The animal is found in North America, Scandinavia, Northern Europe and Siberia. Let us look at the North, to the group of the Commander Islands and the tip of the Aleutian island arc. Here, on the island of Mednoy, between the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the only population of the Mednov blue fox has survived. The habitat of animals is only 187 km2.
How to find out?
This arctic fox is otherwise called the polar fox due to the external similarity with the fox, but it is more squat and less mobile. Indeed, in the conditions of life in the North, it is necessary to save energy and use energy wisely. And at a temperature of –60 ° C, the fox does not freeze in its warm, multi-layered wool coat. Even the paw pads of this beast are covered with wool. Short legs, small ears and a muzzle all help to reduce heat loss. The weight of males reaches 3.5 kg, the body length is 50–75 cm, the females are slightly smaller in size. Arctic foxes are the only representatives of the canine family that change the fur color during the autumn molt. By fur color distinguish white and blue foxes. The first in summer changes the color of wool from white to dirty-brown, and the second - from blue to coffee, dirty brown or dark gray. White foxes prevail on the mainland, and blue ones - on the islands.
What is the fox different from the fox?
The Arctic fox is sometimes called a polar or arctic fox. And despite the fact that these furry animals have a lot in common, in contrast to the usual fox, the body of the fox is more squat, the muzzle is shortened, and the ears are short and rounded. Depending on the season, the fox changes the color of its fur. In the summer he has a short yellowish-gray fur. In winter, most Arctic foxes can boast a lush snow-white "outfit".
Arctic fox is listed in the Red Book
At present, the number of Arctic fox is several hundred thousand individuals. The population is relatively stable. Nevertheless, in the recent past, the species suffered greatly as a result of the fur trade, when every year tens of thousands of animals were destroyed for the sake of beautiful valuable fur.
Beauty did not save, but it killed the fur-bearing animal, whose fur was always decorated with collars, hats and fur coats of the capricious person. The number of common foxes is strongly influenced by the amount of available food.
The basis of their diet consists of small fur-bearing animals - lemmings. Not every year they are born enough to maintain a balance in the ecological system of the predator - the victim. In general, this animal plays a key role in the Arctic ecosystems as one of the main predators. Его потеря может роковым образом сказаться на жизни множества других организмов. Ученые выделяют особей, обитающих на территории России, в отдельный подвид — semenovi, медновский голубой песец, ареал которого чрезвычайно ограничен. Всего существует семь подвидов обыкновенного песца. Официально промысел этих животных прекратили только с 1966 г.Today Mednovsky blue fox is protected on the territory of the Commander Reserve, which was founded in 1993.
Who is called the blue fox?
From the very beginning, clarity should be introduced regarding the terminology used. The fact is that in different sources the term "blue fox" is not always used in the same way, and this can create some confusion.
Let's start with the fact that all representatives of the arctic fox species are divided into two main groups - the white fox and the blue fox. Animals of the first group, of which the absolute majority, have a classic seasonal dimorphism of coloring: in the summer their fur has a dark color, in the winter - white. In turn, blue foxes are a kind of "mutants", since they have a dark summer color that lasts all year. Thus, some sources apply the term "blue fox" to these animals, which are very rare, but are found everywhere in all populations from Scandinavia to Alaska.
In other sources, blue foxes name only those that inhabit the Medny Island in the Commander Archipelago. The local population, consisting of approximately one hundred animals, is represented entirely by Arctic Foxes of the second group. That is, those who wear dark fur all year round. By the name of the island of these animals are often called Mednovsky foxes. It is noteworthy that some sources even claim that Mednov foxes are white in winter and dark in summer. It is obvious that in this case there is an obvious confusion of the concepts of two subspecies of the arctic fox.
Since Mednov's blue fox is simply one of the rare populations entirely composed of ordinary blue fox, in this review we will use the term blue fox and Mednov fox as synonyms, since in practice there is no particular difference between them.
Blue fox - photo and description
Blue fox, as well as simple white fox, is a small predator of the canine family and the only representative of its biological genus. Outwardly, it strongly resembles a fox, from which it differs by its smaller size and coat color. From the fox, the arctic fox is also distinguished by a squat and become a shortened face. The arctic fox’s ears are rounded and very weakly protrude above the general level of the winter coat, which protects them from frostbite.
The body length of an adult animal is 50–75 cm without taking into account the tail, which adds another 25–30 cm to the size of the animal. Arctic fox at the withers grows to 20–30 cm. Despite the rather large dimensions, the animal’s weight is not very large: an average of 3.5 kg in males and 3 kg in females.
While the white fox in the spring and autumn radically changes the color of its coat, the blue fox remains dark all year, although he moults on schedule. In summer, arctic fox fur has a dirty brown color, and in winter it ranges from sandy to dark gray and coffee brown. The name "blue fox" is given to this animal for the fact that its winter fur has a beautiful bluish glow.
Spring moult in foxes starts in March — April and lasts until June. In the fall, the change of the fur coat lasts from September to December. The highest quality fur from foxes is observed in the midst of winter from January to the end of February.
Arctic foxes inhabit the open tundra, preferring the hilly terrain. The animal lives in burrows that digs in sandy hills and coastal terraces, forming the most complex underground labyrinths with several entrances. In this case, the holes are always located in relative proximity to water. Interestingly, due to the lack of suitable places for digging holes in the tundra, Arctic foxes have been using the same dwellings for generations for dozens and even hundreds of years.
Although the arctic fox is, above all, a predator, there is also a significant amount of plant food in its diet. However, it is based on all sorts of small rodents and birds. Also, the animal loves fish, not disdaining, including the one that the waves thrown on the beach. Arctic foxes to a certain extent are also scavengers, often feeding on what remained after the meal of polar bears. Finally, the animal willingly steals the prey of hunters, trapped in traps and snares.
Like many other predators, the arctic fox relies more on its well-developed sense of smell and hearing, a little less on its eyesight. The voice of this animal strongly resembles the yapping of an ordinary puppy of a domestic dog.
Features of the content of blue fox
Since the common white fox and the Mednovian blue fox are essentially the same animal, the breeding rules for them are also the same. A farmer who intends to breed polar fox for the purpose of obtaining valuable fur should properly study everything related to the living conditions of this animal in the wild. A successful fur farm will be only if its organization takes into account these features.
All factors are of great importance - the location of the farm, equipment and cages for Arctic foxes, feeding patterns, breeding of the Arctic fox and rearing. It is equally important to understand how the laws of fur color inheritance work in order to apply them to improve livestock.
The production process on the fox fur farm is subject to the natural cycle of the fox and consists of the following periods:
- Preparation for the race - a period lasting from August to mid-February. The efforts of the personnel of the fur farm are aimed at preparing the animal organism for reproduction.
- Gon - a period lasting from mid-February to May. The staff selects suitable females and males for mating, and also provides them with suitable mating conditions.
- Pregnancy females. Lasts about 50-55 days.
- Lactation period. Lasts up to 40 days after whelping.
After the end of lactation, the young are removed from the females and the whole cycle begins anew.
Place for polar fox farm
In the case of Arctic foxes, the same principle applies as for all other fur animals: the farther north the farm is, the better quality fur will be obtained from animals. Of course, the tundra zone is best suited for this, but given that more or less developed communications in this zone exist only in some areas, many entrepreneurs have to open willy-nilly fur farms south of the northern polar circle. Meanwhile, outside the tundra zone, the quality of fox fur is greatly reduced.
As for the type of terrain, any flat and dry area will suit, preferably on a high, but protected from the wind place. It is optimal if there are a lot of trees and shrubs around the farm, which will not only protect the farm from the winds, but also create a favorable environmental situation at the facility.
Cages and houses for Arctic foxes
Cells that contain animals should be located at a distance of one meter from each other, and it is desirable to leave at least two meters between the rows of cages for ease of maintenance. Rows of cells should certainly be protected from precipitation by a canopy. In addition, the canopy protects the fur of animals from burning out under the sun.
The cages themselves for adult animals and young stock are made from a solid mesh and elevated half a meter to the ground. The grid on the walls can be larger, but for the floor, in any case, it should be taken with small cells so that Arctic foxes can comfortably walk on them.
Although in the wild nature foxes live in families, in the conditions of fur farms, it is better to keep them one by one. The obvious exception is only females with dairy puppies. The minimum dimensions of single cells: 2-6 meters in length, 1-1.5 meters in width and 0.6-1-1 m in height. To save space on the farm, you can make paired cells with one adjacent wall, which is reinforced with boards. At the same time the doors are made from the opposite side.
In each cage, where adult polar fox is contained, it is necessary to provide a small house imitating a hole or nest. House dimensions should be at least 60 cm wide and 110 cm long.
Today, if you wish, you can order standard cells according to the finished project, without being bothered by their independent production. True, the starting costs of creating a fur farm from this significantly increase.
Since the blue fox, whose photos are presented here, comes from a region with a very cold climate, its metabolism is very fast, which is why it requires more feed than other predators of the same size. In addition, the animal's appetites vary significantly depending on the time of year.
You also need to remember that in nature foxes rush to any food that they can find (which is not surprising in the harsh conditions of the tundra). With cell content, this means the risk of overeating if animals have more food than they need. Young and inexperienced individuals are especially prone to such behavior. For this reason, it is strongly recommended to strictly adhere to the optimal amount of feed recommended for foxes. During the day, the power scheme is as follows: in the morning 30% of the daily rate, in the afternoon - 15%, in the evening - everything else.
In the warm season, the fox should eat about 500 g of feed every day. In winter, the animal's appetites are significantly reduced, and it can be content with only 350 grams. At the same time, in summertime, the diet should include more fat, and in the winter, on the contrary - proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins.
Due to the fact that the arctic fox is a predator, it will have to be fed with food of animal origin. Ideally, the daily balance of feed should be as follows: 400 g of meat (partially can be replaced by fish), up to 70 ml of milk, up to 150 g of vegetables and at least 70 g of cereals. Of course, vitamin-mineral mixtures should be used as additives.
Speaking of cereal feed. This item cannot be ignored in any way. Arctic foxes should be given grains of wheat, barley, or corn. Also fit oats, millet and sunflower seeds. However, the latter can only be given in a peeled form, otherwise the animal will suffer from the stomach.
As for vegetables, the simplest crops - cabbage, carrot, beet, rutabaga will be optimal here. Spinach and green salad will also benefit. With a shortage of these vegetables are also allowed to feed the animals with potatoes, but only in the form of well-boiled mashed potatoes.
Since arctic foxes are extremely reluctant to take ordinary vegetables, which they do not naturally meet, most often all these feeds are mixed together with meat and served in the form of porridge or minced meat.
How to keep at home?
Breeding blue fox at home is not such an easy task, so the future farmer must first submerge all the details of such an activity. This enterprise will be successful only if all the features are taken into account. It is important to pay attention to all factors, starting with the location of the farm, the organization of cells and enclosures and ending with the nutrition and breeding of young animals. It is also very important to understand how the new generation of arctic foxes inherits the color of the fur in order to improve the quality of the coat of their pets every time.
It is recommended to select the territories located as far north as possible to place the farm. Thus, from animals you can get the highest quality fur. Of course, it is best to place the company in the tundra. The terrain is best suited flat and dry. Well, if the area around will be surrounded by trees and shrubs, they will provide protection from the winds, as well as create a good environment for the animals.