Why Do Arctic Foxes Change Colors?


The arctic fox's color changes in order to adapt to its environment. During winter, the fox's pelts are white in order to blend inconspicuously with the snow while during the summer their pelts change to a gray or brown. This is in order to blend in with the ground, as there is no snow in the arctic throughout the summer.

Two different "morphs", also called "phases" or "forms," of arctic fox exist. Nearly 100 percent of all arctic foxes in the north fit the white morph type, and 90 percent of all Aleutian and Pribilof island foxes fit the blue morph type. White morph foxes will go white during the winter, but during spring will molt the white fur and turn gray or brown. The blue morph lightens during winter, but never turns perfectly white.

In the wild, each arctic fox lives for approximately 3 years, but ages of 10 have been recorded. In a zoo, they may live as long as 6 to 10 years each. During the summer, Arctic foxes prefer to eat lemmings but also survive on berries, bird eggs, insects and fish. During the winter, they will eat small marine animals, birds, invertebrates and carrion. In zoos, they will consume quails, mice, eggs, fruits and vegetables.