The Arctic Fox (Vulpes lagopus), also known as the White Fox or Snow Fox, is a small fox native to cold Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common in throughout the Arctic tundra biome. Although it is often assigned to its own genus Alopex, the definitive mammal taxonomy list, as well as genetic evidence places it in Vulpes with the majority of the other foxes.
The Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus) has evolved to live in some of the most frigid extremes on the planet. The Arctic Fox is the only native land mammal to Iceland. It came to the isolated North Atlantic island at the end of the last ice age, walking over the frozen sea. Among its adaptations for cold survival are its deep, thick fur (the warmest of any mammal). The Arctic Fox tends to be active in early September to early May. The gestation period is 52 days. Litters tend to average 6-7 pups but may be as many as 11. Both the mother and the father help to raise their young. The females leave the family and form their own groups and the males stay with the family. Arctic foxes tend to form monogamous pairs in the breeding season. Litters of between 4 and 11 kits are born in the early summer.
The Arctic Fox will generally eat any meat it can find, including lemmings, Arctic Hare, reptiles and amphibians, eggs, and carrion. Lemmings are the most common prey. A family of foxes can eat dozens of lemmings each day. During April and May the Arctic Fox also preys on Ringed Seal pups when the young animals are confined to a snow den and are relatively helpless. Fish beneath the ice are also part of its diet. When its normal prey is scarce, the Arctic Fox scavenges the leftovers of larger predators, such as the polar bear, even though the bears' prey includes the Arctic Fox itself.
The length of the head and body is 55 cm (21.7 in) in the male and 53 cm (20.9 in) in the female. The tail is 31 cm (12.2 in) long in the male and 30 cm (11.8 in) long in the female. It is 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in) high at the shoulder. Males weigh 9 lb (4.1 kg) while females can weigh 6 to 12 lb (2.7 to 5.4 kg)
The Arctic Fox has a circumpolar range, meaning that it is found throughout the entire Arctic, including the outer edges of Greenland, Russia, Canada, Alaska, and Svalbard, as well as in Subarctic and alpine areas, such as Iceland and mainland alpine Scandinavia. The conservation status of the species is good, except for the Scandinavian mainland population. It is acutely endangered there, despite decades of legal protection from hunting and persecution. The total population estimate in all of Norway, Sweden and Finland is a mere 120 adult individuals.