Animal Fox: Description, Habitat, Lifestyle and Food
The Arctic fox has several names. Quite often it is called or "loaned" fox. Sometimes you can meet the romantic and poetic name - "snow fox". It 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 the 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 could be fixed was 9 kg. Females are slightly lighter: their average weight varies within 3 kg.
The fox differs from the 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 the summer, the fur of the beast is of a dirty brown 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 camouflage during 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 for 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 ideally 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 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 and lower reaches of the Amur. On the territory of Russia, Arctic fox in the tundra and forest tundra is considered a typical representative of the fauna.
The fox is settled in 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 an open hilly relief.
Do you think choosing a place and digging a hole in permafrost conditions is easy? Arrangement in frozen ground takes a long time. As the soil thaws, the hole deepens.Both blue and white 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 stones or dig up small depressions in the bush. But such cases occur infrequently.
Despite the fact that the 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, foxes willingly pick up discarded fish and various algae, especially sea kale. 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 - an animal, the description of which we cite, is fed by a 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 in the family 1 male, 4-5 females and puppies. 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.
An adult polar fox has white fur, but is born with a smoky-brown color. The fur of blue fox cubs is almost brown. Kids in a hole 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 may be fed with 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 number of local populations 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 lifespan of animals is somewhat 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.