Arctic Foxes Grow Their Own Gardens

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Arctic foxes grow their own gardens:

The underground homes, often a century old, are topped with gardens exploding with lush dune grass, diamondleaf willows, and yellow wildflowers — a flash of color in an otherwise gray landscape.

Arctic Fox at Entrance of its Den in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

“These animals are fertilizing and basically growing a garden.”

Gardens that create such a stark contrast on the tundra that scientists who recently published the first scientific study on the dens have dubbed the foxes “ecosystem engineers.”

Conducted in 2014 near Churchill, Manitoba, the experiments revealed that the foxes’ organic waste supports almost three times as much botanical biomass in summer months as the rest of the tundra.


Some dens are over a century old, and the best are elevated: ridges, mounds, riverbanks. But with so much permafrost — frozen ground — and such a flat environment, prime sites can take years to develop.

And since digging new homes wastes valuable energy, real estate is limited — so foxes reuse locations — and in a strange time-share, foxes sometimes steal sites belonging to ground squirrels.

With litters averaging about eight to 10 pups—some as high as 16—the foxes deposit high amounts of nutrients in and around their dens, a combination of urination, defecation, and leftover kills.

In winter, foxes don’t drink water or eat snow or ice, which lowers their core temperature. Instead they get water from their food, which concentrates nutrients in their urine, making it more potent.


  1. Adar says:

    Not necessarily growing their own gardens but creating conditions favorable for plant life to flourish in an area normally hostile to vegetation.

  2. Slovenian Guest says:

    YouTube Ice Fox Struggle for Survival

    “Ice Fox observes two families of arctic foxes in vastly different regions: Norway’s Arctic coast, and Siberia. Included: the impact of trappers; a lemming shortage.”

    From the documentary: “The ice fox is basically a loner, but each year when breeding season arrives, his social graces return.”

    Just like me, and I also pee in my garden!

    Thank you I’m here all night…

    Speaking of ice, yesterday, the day of the US election, we had first snowfall, I took it as an omen, Trump shall win, and here we are now, first lady, for real! It’s a miracle, which I hope puts Slovenia somewhat on the map.

    And it gives you a reason to post a picture of Melania, win win! Although she can’t bench press her husband like Michelle Obama, she will still do fine.

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