“Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.” – W.S. Gilbert. This little ball of fur Arctic fox caught my attention one frigid day. The small arctic fox before me seemed to be pushing through the merciless cold just like I was. His habitat was stunningly beautiful and also pristine. Very few humans have ever made their way up to this part of the world. But I was on a mission. My wildlife photography brought me to this white fox and I was also fascinated by him and his cold world. I had found a subject for my art for sale and I was eager to capture how beautiful he was.
The tiny carnivore eyeing me up and down was trying to read me and what my intentions were. Most definitely, he was trying to deduce if I was a threat to him or not. I was simply taken aback by how absolutely cute he was. Typically, the things we deem “cute” are sweet, fragile, or weak. However, cuteness and this arctic fox were not. The moment I had stepped too close to him, he turned around and snarled at me. The little white fox that I thought was so sweet and vulnerable gave a very loud and clear message that he was not. I was able to capture his disdain for me in this image, giving me a very dramatic piece of art for sale.
Never Judge a Book by Its Cover
Why was I under the assumption that this clearly aggressive and also adaptable animal was docile and gentle? This was the same question that Nobel laureates, Konrad Lorenz and also Niko Tinbergen, asked about a century ago. They were able to propose the infant schema which explains how people tend to find human baby-like characteristics “cute”. That is, we are naturally drawn to round eyes, chubby cheeks, high eyebrows, a small chin, and a high head-to-body-size ratio. This attraction to all things cute had helped us identify and attend to vulnerable babies that could need our attention. Interestingly, this natural instinct goes beyond just our own children, but also to other animals with similar appearances. Our attention and also affections are unfortunately not always welcome outside our own species, as I had experienced.
The Tiny but Mighty Arctic Fox
The arctic fox was definitely a better survivalist than I was, and so was absolutely fine on his own. His species is, after all, the only land mammal native to Iceland. The white foxes came to the isolated North Atlantic island at the end of the last ice age, most probably by crossing the frozen sea. These carnivores are adept hunters, preying on anything they can catch. This includes lemmings, voles, other rodents, hares, birds, eggs, fish, and carrion. They are able to survive the harsh cold and food scarcity of their habitat by hoarding food or living off of fat reserves. The animal I had approached may have been cute, but he made sure to tell me that he didn’t need me there.
There is a lesson to be learned from this tiny furry carnivore who could defend himself and scare off a much larger animal. Our appearances have no power on who we are and what we can accomplish. The cutest Arctic fox can be assertive and unwelcoming while even the burliest man can be sensitive and caring. Who we are is defined by how we decide to act and also what we do, not by what we look like or what we’re supposed to do.
Nikon Interview: Northern Exposure
The fox wanted to play.
It was the second or third day of Ejaz Khan’s Canadian Arctic search for the elusive Arctic wolf—he’s actually not sure which day because searching the endless horizon for Arctic wolves “is so boring that time doesn’t pass”—when from inside his tent he saw motion outside.
“I don’t know what an Arctic wolf looks like, so I thought it was an Arctic wolf,” he says, “and I started to tense up. Then I realized it’s an Arctic fox.” CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
View More Pictures of Wildlife in the Snow
Arctic Fox Gallery
Arctic Fox Wall Art
If you wish to purchase an Arctic Fox photo print, simply contact us with the form above the page.
• 8” x 12” in
• 17.5” x 26.25” in
• 23.5” x 35.25” in
• 35.5” x 53.25” in
• 43.5” x 65.25” in
• Black Frame
• White Frame