Fox’s so fluffy and cute with their little noses and soul-searching eyes and big fluffy tails. There are 12 fox species in the well-known Bowlby’s genus and more than 20 other species commonly referred to as foxes. Talk about two of the most iconic fox species the incredibly adaptable red fox and the extremely adorable arctic fox.
Foxes are found on every continent except Antarctica arctic foxes are found in the Arctic tundra biome the range is circum global meaning. They’re found on all continents in the Arctic region of the North Pole. Red foxes on the other hand have been very successful in man latitudes including the southern regions of the Arctic forests deserts, prairies mountains, and even cities. These two foxes are similar with their cunning eyes, pointy noses thick fur, and keen ability to hunt rodents but they’re also very different.
Arctic foxes have shorter legs and ears not to mention thicker fur which extends to the bottom of their feet. These adaptations and others allow them to survive in the extreme weather of the Arctic. Red foxes are larger and more athletic but their fur just can’t compete with the arctic fox who’s comfortable in -60 degree weather not just able to survive comfortable that’s incredible.
I’m interested in comparing these two foxes side-by-side because that’s what’s happening in the wild right now the Arctic tundra is getting warmer which allows red foxes to venture further north than they would have been able to do in the past they no longer need a fur coat as cold weather resistant as an arctic fox has their own winter fur is now adequate. That’s great news for red foxes they’re able to hunt in new areas and stake claim to new territories. All they have to do is chase off the smaller native foxes and the places there the change in environment is bad news for arctic foxes they’re now having to survive a completely new challenge competition from a new species a multitude of researchers are documenting interactions between red andarctic foxes in the wild and the majority are reporting back that red foxes dominate the interactions arctic foxes are being chased from their dens which are often generations old in some cases adults and/or pups are being killed by an intruder red fox.
Obviously that’s awful for the arctic foxes but what do these observations mean in the big picture. What’s going on here well as nature continues to teach us lots of things are going on at the same time arctic foxes might be able to adapt to the change by simply moving further north to avoid the red foxes claim on the southern parts of the region, however with warmer temperatures the snow is melting which is having a negative impact on the main food source for arctic foxes lemmings which are little rodents that like to live above the frozen ground in the snowpack shorter warmer winters could prevent the lemmings from having their usual population boom every five years or so which means less for the arctic foxes they could turn to an alternate food source scavenging polar bear kills but we all know that polar bears are having an even harder time than arctic foxes, there is a chance that climate change will make it more difficult for reindeer to survive meaning another food source for them to scavenge on but this is a temporary solution well a permanent decline in lemmings reindeer and polar bears make it impossible for arctic foxes to live further north out of the range of red foxes.
We don’t know yet that’s whyresearchers are collecting more data while red foxes are better at hunting bulls arctic foxes seem more adept at climbing cliffs and hunting shorebirds and they’re more skilled at caching ptarmigan eggs in the spring, so they stay cool and fresh for winter consumption. Maybe this will help them out compete the reds in certain areas. Currently arctic foxes are not endangered as a whole however certain populations are critically endangered. They’re under 150 individuals in all of Norway Finland and Sweden, I’m eager to learn more as scientists continue to research arctic fox and red fox behavio in the wild and since I’m not out there doing research on my own. I found a couple ways that I can help a situation right from home I can reduce my carbon footprint in any way, I can reduce reuse recycle compost grow my own garden, and keep one-time plastic use to an absolute minimum. I can support zoological organizations that donate to conservation research and action, I can donate directly to conservation efforts, and I can vote for ecologically friendly bills and representatives both locally and federally.
I’m so grateful to be someone to take care of these two amazing foxes and be able to share them with others, so they can inspire more people to learn about what’s happening in the Arctic.