Q:

What are the characteristics of an Arctic fox?

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Quick Answer

An Arctic fox has thick, dense fur, small ears that inhibit heat loss, fur covered foot pads and the ability to store a thick layer of body fat. All of these physical characteristics make it possible for the fox to live in the often sub-zero Arctic climate.

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Full Answer

Arctic foxes range from 6 to 10 pounds, with the males averaging 7 pounds and the females 6 pounds. From nose to tail, they average 30 to 40 inches long, with 10 to 13 inches of that being tail. At the shoulders, the fox stands between 9 and 11 inches tall.

Another survival adaptation is the changing of the Arctic fox's fur from snowy white in winter to a brownish hue during the summer. This provides camouflage, especially helpful for a species that lives in a treeless landscape. These animals live in dens and can produce up to two litters each year, with as many as 15 kits per litter. Breeding season is between September and May, with both the male and female taking care of the young.

Arctic foxes are omnivorous and eat anything, including lemmings, fish and berries. Their superior hearing allows them to sense prey under snow or ice. Once found, the fox either pounces on the animal or digs it out from under the snow. Any spare food is buried for future use. In lean times, Arctic Foxes scavenge from polar bear kills.

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