Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) and
Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus):
Red foxes usually weigh between six and fifteen pounds, standing 16 to 18 inches high at the shoulder. The most common color is rich red-gold, with black legs and feet. The chest and underparts are usually white with a long bushy tail also tipped in white. Other color variations include pure black and silver.
Red foxes are opportunistic carnivores, feeding on mice, hares, birds, eggs, plants, berries, and insects. Populations of foxes are controlled by starvation and diseases such as rabies.
Breeding occurs February through March and the pups are born in April and May. Litter size averages four pups. Females usually produce a litter every year. The pups remain in the den for the first three or four weeks and continue to hunt from it for the next three months. The family will break up in the fall and each individual goes its own way.
Arctic foxes are a smaller fox with a short round face and low rounded ears. They typically weigh 6 to 10 pounds and stand 9 to 12 inches high at the shoulder. Arctic foxes are found in two color phases, white and blue. White-phase foxes appear brown in the summer and pure white in winter. Blue-phase foxes appear gray in the summer and a lighter gray in the winter. Neither phase has a white tipped tail, as does the red fox.
Arctic foxes feed primarily on hares, rodents (especially lemmings), birds, eggs, salmon, and berries. Populations of foxes are controlled by starvation and diseases such as rabies.
Breeding occurs March through April and the pups are born in May to June. Litter size averages seven pups. Both color phases may occur in the same litter and females will usually produce a litter every year. The pups are fully weaned by one and a half months of age and can fend for themselves by fall after the family breaks up.
Burt, William H. and Richard P. Grossenheider. 1980. Peterson field guide to mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston Massachusetts.
Alaska Geographic Society. 1996. Mammals of Alaska: a comprehensive field guide from the publishers of Alaska geographic. The Alaska Geographic Society. Anchorage Alaska.
For more information, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's wildlife notebook red fox page or arctic fox page.
Last updated: July 24, 2008