Thursday, 4 April 2019

The gorgeous Arctic Fox, celebrated as 'Mikkl' by Christiane Ritter

I have published here some time ago my sympathy for the arctic ermine or marten, a gorgeous little animal. Leonardo painted one in the arms of Cecilia Gallerani (Dama com l'Ermellino).

But the Arctic fox is equally gorgeous, mainly in the height of its winter coating of pristine white fur.

This thick fur protects the fox to below -50ºC, which is quite necessary because foxes don't hibernate - they have to be out on the ice hunting for food during all the winter season. They have to leap high and fall head and forepaws first, punching into the ice to catch some underlying prey (e.g. lemmings).

After extensive hunting since the 19th century, the arctic fox is not endangered presently except in Scandinavia; on the contrary, in some areas managed hunting must take place to keep the population under control. Or else the henhouse may suffer...


The shrewd look of the fox, probably fatal for the preys.

The Arctic fox population has a circumpolar distribution, mainly in the low arctic/sub-arctic areas:

The species has some local variations, the most important being the foxes of Iceland, Greenland, Arctic Canadá, Pribilof Islands and the islands of the Bering Sea, Siberia, plus an important population in the Wrangel Island.

Vixen playing in the dawn, Wrangel Island

A Centre for Protection of the Arctic Fox has been installed in the village of Súðavík, Iceland.

Súðavík, 66°01′ N, 22°59′ W

To close, a short litterary excerpt from A Woman in the Polar Night, by Christiane Ritter, one of the ever best books by a female author. During her retirement in a remote cabin in the Svalbard frozen desert, Ritter is visited by a fox, then named Mikkl, and some domestic kind of attachment grows between them.

" Mikkl now demonstrates his attachment to us by sleeping close to the hut throughout the night. He lies curled up on his bed of straw with his bushy brush over his nose. The sleeping, shining-white fox fits in wonderfully with the stillness of the night, which still remains magically bright. Mikkl is like a fragment of the mysterious Ice Age, lying hidden in the frozen, quiet brightness. In the transparent heavens the large moon looks quite near, not as it does in Europe where its light is cold and distant. Here it seems to belong to our world, the luminous picture of a sharply out-lined ice-landscape."