Do Arctic Foxes Hibernate?

November 2, 2017
1 min read

While we do not know much of Arctic fox’s behavior at all, study suggests that the polar foxes do not hibernate—not even in winter. Arctic foxes are often termed as nomads in that they move or perhaps migrate to find a suitable habitat. But they do not migrate long distances in search of food. Arctic foxes remain active all year round because they are perfectly insulated with their thick fur. Besides, they also store fat enough reserves to live on the limited supply of food. These stored reserves provide the fox sufficient energy to move around and search for the available food in winter.

Read More: What Do Arctic Foxes Eat?

do arctic foxes hibernate
Arctic fox pup seems quite active in winter. ©MORTEN HILMER/National Geographic

While the white fox possesses quite many adaptations to survive in the arctic others seem to lack one. Every Arctic animal much less mammal has got only three options to survive in the arctic. They can either remain active to cope with the limited food supply. But in order to remain active the animals must have sufficient energy to move around. The second option is that they migrate long distances so they will find food. Birds usually undergo long distance migration. Third and probably the last option is hibernation. If an animal neither migrates nor does it possess sufficient energy to remain active, it usually becomes dormant for a few months. This happens when they cannot find their primary prey. Arctic fox prefers to choose the first option which is to remain active.

Read More: How Long Do Arctic Foxes Live?

Now the question is: why don’t arctic foxes hibernate? Well, if can afford to move around and find their secondary prey even in winter months why should they hibernate. Large mammals such as polar bears do hibernate because they are unable to prey seals in winter as the sea ice freezes. Arctic foxes rarely face situation such as this, so they do not enter into hibernation.  They do however move a little because of the fluctuating populations of lemmings or voles. The rodents usually move in winter so as the arctic fox. An isolated population of arctic foxes migrates after lemming peaks—so much so that they can travel as far north as taiga zone.


Martin F. Price, Alton C. Byers, Donald A. Friend, Thomas Kohler, Larry W. Price; Mountain Geography: Physical and Human Dimensions, University of California Press, 24-Aug-2013.

I am a contributing author and co-founder of Every now and then i find myself hooked to my laptop researching and trying to discover new species of animals.

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