From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2009:
Arctic Fox: Life At The Top Of The World
by Garry Hamilton, with photographs by Norbert Rosing
Firefly Books (P.O. Box 1338, Ellicot Station, Buffalo, NY
14205), 2006. 239 pages, hardcover, illustrated. $39.95.
To be familiar with foxes and then meet an Arctic fox is to
be profoundly surprised. Most foxes, even raised in captivity for
generations, are shy and nervous, reluctant to be seen except when
a red fox is attempting to decoy a perceived threat away from a vixen
and kits. Then, brazen though the red fox will act for a moment,
he will vanish just as soon as his family is safe.
An Arctic fox will walk right up with two questions in her
eyes. First, do you have something to eat? If not, can you play?
Arctic foxes love to play peek-a-boo, hide-and-seek, chase games,
and even tug-of-war–but they will be off in a flash if they capture
anything they think might be edible.
Most closely related to the swift foxes of the U.S. west,
Arctic foxes are among the fastest of mammals, and among the
widest-ranging, sometimes meandering thousands of miles from
wherever scientists managed to tag them.
Able to withstand the coldest temperatures of any mammal,
Arctic foxes have been seen just 37 miles from the North Pole, where
even polar bears are not known to venture. Arctic foxes do not
amicably share food with siblings, even as kits, but otherwise seem
cheerful and sociable, if only to find a chance to steal edibles.
In November 2006 I noted in reviewing The World of the Polar
Bear by photographer Norbert Rosing that, “As well as capturing
almost every aspect of wild polar bear life, Norbert Rosing provides
many memorable shots of the creatures who share their habitat,
especially Arctic foxes, who along with ravens are polar bears’
frequent sidekicks. Rosing even caught one Arctic fox in the act of
nipping at a polar bear’s heels– perhaps, Rosing speculated, to
urge the bear to go hunt a seal for both of them. The bear shows no
sign of inclination to harm the fox.”