Arctic Fox


  • Status
    Least Concern
  • Population
    Several hundred thousand
  • Scientific Name
    Vulpes lagopus
  • Height
    11 inches
  • Weight
    3 to 20 pounds
  • Length
    18 to 27 inches
  • Habitats

The Arctic fox is primarily a carnivore that lives inland, away from the coasts. They are dependent on the presence of smaller animals (most often lemmings) to survive.  Arctic foxes also hunt for sea birds, fish, and other marine life. Smaller rodent populations waver between times of abundance and scarcity, which leaves the Arctic fox vulnerable when these creatures are low in numbers.

An endangered fox shows signs of returning

In the summer of 2022, volunteers patrolling for Arctic fox dens spotted a welcome surprise.
Three fox kits playing

Why They Matter

  • The protection of the Arctic fox ensures the safety of a variety of other wildlife in the Arctic region.


  • Population Several hundred thousand
  • Extinction Risk Least Concern
    1. EX

      No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died

    2. EW
      Extinct in the Wild

      Known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalised population

    3. CR
      Critically Endangered

      Facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the Wild

    4. EN

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    5. VU

      Facing a high risk of extinction in the Wild

    6. NT
      Near Threatened

      Likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future

    7. LC
      Least Concern

      Does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, or Near Threatened

Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.

The scarcity of prey is the most prevalent threat for the Arctic fox. Disease and genetic pollution of the species by foxes bred in captivity also threatens this species.

Climate Change

Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Warming temperatures are linked to many changes in the Arctic, including reduced sea ice, melting permafrost and rising sea levels.


The Arctic fox was impacted tremendously by the fur trade because of its extremely high quality pelt. It's still hunted now for its fur, particularly by native populations who live in close proximity to them. The fur trade has decreased dramatically and the Arctic fox is not as vulnerable to overexploitation as it once was.

What WWF Is Doing

Arctic fox licks nose

WWF works to make sure fragile ecosystems are supported and protected. We mitigate the effects of climate change to ensure the survival of the Arctic fox and other species.