A male arctic fox searches for his mate but a harsh winter storm makes it hard to see. Arctic foxes can identify each other by scent, but her scent is masked by the snow, too. Is that fox in the distance the one he’s looking for?
In the BBC’s Stormborn, two arctic foxes find each other in the snow on the northwest coast of Iceland. Via this Smithsonian Channel clip, this species “separates and unites every year–but their bond is a lifelong one.” They usually mate for life. From Wikipedia:
The Arctic fox lives in some of the most frigid extremes on the planet, but they do not start to shiver until the temperature drops to −70 °C (−94 °F). Among its adaptations for survival in the cold is its dense, multilayered pelage, which provides excellent insulation. Additionally, the Arctic fox is the only canid whose foot pads are covered in fur.
There are two genetically distinct coat color morphs: white and blue. The white morph has seasonal camouflage, white in winter and brown along the back with light grey around the abdomen in summer. The blue morph is often a dark blue, brown, or grey color year-round. Although the blue allele is dominant over the white allele, 99% of the Arctic fox population is the white morph. Two similar mutations to MC1R cause the blue color and the lack of seasonal color change. The fur of the Arctic fox provides the best insulation of any mammal.
Watch these fox videos next:
• A red fox mom cares for 13 babies
• Saving the Island Fox
• The Earth’s magnetic field helps foxes target mice in the snow
• Curious arctic fox kits discover (and destroy) a motion-sensor camera
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