Beasts Of Iceland: The Arctic Fox - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Beasts Of Iceland: The Arctic Fox

Beasts Of Iceland: The Arctic Fox

Published August 18, 2017

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photos by
Wikipedia

After a mosey about the Golden Circle, you—our tourist reader—might be wondering, “How the hell does any animal survive on this godforsaken Atlantic rock?” It’s a fair question. With its lack of vegetation, merciless climate, and general all-around uncomfortableness, Iceland is not an easy place for any living being to survive. That said, there are a number of cool fauna in the country to explore.

So, let’s meet the…

Arctic Fox

The Iceland Arctic Fox, or vulpes lagopus fuliginosus, is the only native terrestrial mammal in the country. Strutting around since the end of the Ice Age, these hearty carnivores have become a national symbol. And hearty they are: not only does their stunning white coat ensure they stay toasty in temperatures up to −70 °C (−94 °F), but their peculiar fat ratio makes it easy for them to thrive on seasonal food supplies.

In terms of munchies, the foxes subsist on birds, berries, eggs, and seal pups if they can find them. In times of starvation, though, the cuddly looking carnivore has been known to eat its own feces. Does this make them cannibals? It’s up to debate—they might just be perverts.

While they are cute little buddies, keep your distance if you see one in the wild. While attacks on humans are rare, the male foxes have been known to fight each other to the death over the hottest female fox in the neighborhood. We wouldn’t risk it.

The Coprophagic Cur

Have these furry munchkins tickled your zoological bone? Well the Arctic Fox Center in Súðavík is the perfect place to indulge your foxy desires. It’s got exhibits, tours, and even two ambassador foxes raised to be friendly and loving to humans. Woohoo!

All in all, the Arctic Fox is not only a fascinating animal but a beautiful representation of Icelanders—white, blonde, and surprisingly violent.

For more information (and a cute video!) on the arctic fox, check out our interview with fox tamer Stella Kristjánsdóttir here.


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