The polar fox or blue fox is distinguished by the sublime coat White that he wears in winter. Small but resistant, the canine can withstand climatic conditions extreme, marked by temperatures dropping to -50 degrees. Zoom on an inhabitant of the most inhospitable region on the planet.
Polar fox, blue, arctic or isatis
The polar fox (Vulpes lagopus) belongs to the order of carnivores and to the family of canines. The animal is also called arctic fox, snow fox, isatis fox or blue fox. Smaller than the red fox living in our latitudes, the polar fox has a slender silhouette, a muzzle allowing it to enjoy a smell very developed, small and erect ears always on the lookout, dark eyes giving him a good view when he hunts in thedarkness. It displays a size of 50 to 75 cm, a height at the withers of 30 cm, a weight of 5 to 9 kg and a tail length of 25 to 40 cm.
Moulting: essential for the polar fox
Its compact body, thick skin and dense coat help it limit heat loss. In the first cold, the polar fox adopts its spectacular winter coat, long and voluminous. Of a pure white, its magnificent coat allows it to easily camouflage itself in the snowy scenery of the arctic tundra while helping it withstand temperatures dropping to -50 degrees. In hot periods, its fur takes on a grayish tint, even Brown, shortens and loses its density to withstand higher temperatures. This molting process is essential for this species to adapt to climatic changes brutals marking the polar zones. The underside of the legs is lined with hair to protect the animal from direct contact with snow. His long bushy tail serves as ascarf behind which it protects its muzzle and legs when it curls up to sleep.
The hostile habitat of the polar fox
The canine lives in the territories above the polar Circle : throughout the arctic zone in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, the Bering Strait Islands, Russia, Svalbard, Iceland and Scandinavia. The polar fox is one of the few species capable of hunting and to survive in the frozen tundra of North America and Eurasia. In winter, it must acclimatize to extreme temperatures and darkness, while in summer it must adapt to the continuous light. Its territory varies according to food resources available and in the cold season, it can migrate south over long distances to find more favorable conditions for its survival, along the coasts or on the edges of boreal forests.
The polar fox, fond of rodents
Omnivorous and predominantly carnivorous, the polar fox mainly eats rodents like the lemming – its favorite prey – the vole, the polar hare, but it also consumes birds and their eggs, shellfish, crustaceans, fresh fish. A discreet hunter, the canine is able to spot prey hidden under the snow thanks to its very sharp hearing and smell. Clever, the fox can also follow predators of the region (polar bear and wolf) in order to feed on their remains: carcasses of seals and reindeer. If there is a lack of meat, he knows how to be satisfied with vegetables and berries found on his way.
The polar fox, a social animal
The polar fox is an animal nocturnal who goes out hunting at the quietest times. Active all year round, it does not hibernate but slows down its metabolism in winter in order to save energy.energy and retain heat. If some individuals evolve in solitary, the polar fox is rather social and territorial who usually live in small groups. With respect to humans, the animal is much less fierce than its red cousin.
The loyalty of the polar fox
During the breeding season – which runs from September to early May – pairs form to stay together for life. Monogamous, the canine finds its partner as soon as the mating season approaches and remains faithful to him until his death. After mating and a period of gestation from 50 to 55 days, the female generally gives birth to a large litter: on average 6 to 12 foxes are born, few of which will survive due to the rate of mortality high newborn babies due to hostile climatic conditions in their environment.
Quick weaning of baby cubs
The little ones that are born blind within the burrow open their eyes after a dozen days. The male and the female take care of the education and the feeding of the fox cubs whose development is enough quick : weaned after 6 to 8 weeks, the young may start to become independent from the eighth month of their life. Most arctic foxes reach sexual maturity around one year of age. The females then leave the family to form their own groups, while the males remain with in the family fold.
The long-coveted polar fox
The Siberian wolf, brown bear, golden eagle, wolverine (the largest specimen in the mustelid family) and snowy owl (a large owl) are among the main predators natural fox cubs. The arctic fox is currently classified as “Least Concern” on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the animal remains in danger ofextinction in Scandinavia where it was hunted for a long time for its fur, a practice which has clearly declined due in particular to awareness campaigns. Today the global warming tends to reduce its natural habitat. Its lifespan is 10 to 15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.