Diet of Arctic Foxes (<i>Alopex lagopus</i>) in Greenland

  • Christian M.O. Kapel
Keywords: Alopex lagopus, arctic fox, diet, feeding biology, Greenland


The gastrointestinal tracts of 254 arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) trapped or shot in Greenland, mainly during winter, were examined for the presence of food items. The occurrence of different food categories in the gastrointestinal tracts differed significantly between the geographical areas. Overall frequencies of occurrence of food categories were the following: berries (0-67%), seaweed (0-50%), other plant material (6-57%), bird and bird eggs (0-83%), fish (0-31%), shellfish (0-33%), reindeer (0-29%), sheep (0-25%), seal (0-12%), insects (0-10%), larger pieces of muscle tissue (12-57%), human food waste (0-77%), and nonfood garbage (0-50%). In foxes caught near air bases, the gastointestinal tracts were frequently (53-70%) found to contain human food waste and nonfood garbage. Foxes caught in the more remote districts of Greenland seem less dependent on waste and garbage; they feed on a broad variety of food items according to the local diversity of the prey fauna.