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Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition

Hello and welcome to the second installment of Wednesday Woof! This week, we're learning about the Arctic Fox, which can be found in - omigodlookithowcuteandfluffyandwhiteIcan'tevenstandit!

Illustration for article titled Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition
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Ahem. Let's try this again.

The Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) can be found only in the Northern Arctic regions and particularly in the Arctic tundra. Because of its white winter color, it's also called the white fox, the polar fox, and the snow fox. In the summertime, it sheds its fluffy white outer coat to show its brown undercoat.

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Illustration for article titled Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition

Arctic Foxes are well-adapted to live in extremely cold environments. Its rounded body shape allows it to retain heat during the winter, curling into a ball and allowing its thick winter coat to insulate it from the cold. During the summer it has to build up a good supply of body fat to aid in keeping warm and seeing it through lean winter months, when prey can be scarce. In times when there is an abundance of food, they will store it in the ground to eat later. They grow up to 34 inches in body length (86 cm) and a tail of 12 inches (31 cm).

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Illustration for article titled Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition

Arctic Foxes will eat anything they can catch, usually voles, lemmings, ringed seal pups, birds and/or their eggs, and fish. They're also opportunistic scavengers who will feed on carrion and some plants as well. These foxes will form monogamous mating pairs during the breeding season and live together in a multi-generation family group, typically in a complex system of underground burrows.

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Illustration for article titled Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition

Female Arctic Foxes will typically have litters of five to eight kits, but both she and her mate help to raise them. In this social structure it is the young females who will leave to start their own family groups, while the males stay with the group that raised them. There are five recognized subspecies:

  • Alopex lagopus lagopus
  • Alopex lagopus beringensis
  • Alopex lagopus fuliginosus
  • Alopex lagopus pribilofensis
  • Alopex lagopus foragorapusis
Illustration for article titled Wednesday Woof - Alopex lagopus Edition
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And apparently they can levitate. [The preceeding sentence may not have been factual.]

Because of the Arctic Fox's beautiful winter coat, it is particularly threatened by trapping that is virtually uncontrolled, and has almost wiped out two of the subspecies listed above. They compete with Red Foxes for territory and prey, and their population tends to fluctuate along with that of their main prey items, like lemmings. While the world population of Arctic Fox is not considered to be under threat, the subspecies that are found in Medny Island (Russia) and Fennoscandia (the Kola Peninsula, Norway, Sweden and Finland) are very much endangered.

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