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The Arctic Fox, also known as the White Fox, Polar Fox or Snow Fox, is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome. The Arctic Fox lives in some of the most frigid extremes on the planet. Among its adaptations for cold survival are its deep, thick fur, a system of countercurrent heat exchange in the circulation of paws to retain core temperature, and a good supply of body fat. The fox has a low surface area to volume ratio, as evidenced by its generally rounded body shape, short muzzle and legs, and short, thick ears. Since less of its surface area is exposed to the Arctic cold, less heat escapes the body. Its furry paws allow it to walk on ice in search of food. The Arctic Fox has such keen hearing that it can precisely locate the position of prey under the snow. When it finds prey, it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim. Its fur changes colour with the seasons: in the winter it is white to blend in with snow, while in the summer months it changes to brown. The Arctic Fox will generally eat any small animal it can find: lemmings, hares, owls, eggs, and carrion, etc. 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. If there is an overabundance of food hunted, the Arctic Fox will bury what the family cannot eat. When its normal prey is scarce, the Arctic Fox scavenges the leftovers and even feces of larger predators, such as the polar bear, even though the bear's prey includes the Arctic Fox itself. 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. The Arctic Fox is losing ground to the larger Red Fox. Historically, the Gray Wolf has kept Red Fox numbers down, but as the wolf has been hunted to near extinction in much of its former range, the Red Fox population has grown larger, and it has taken over the niche of top predator. In areas of northern Europe there are programs in place that allow hunting of the Red Fox in the Arctic Fox's previous range. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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