THE CANADIAN FIELD-NATURALIST
Arctic Fox: Life at the Top of the World
By Garry Hamilton. 2008. Firefly Books Ltd., 66 Leek
Crescent, Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 1H1 Canada. 231
pages. 39.95 USD.
Garry Hamilton has produced a wonderfully written
account of a whimsical predator that’s not as well re-
searched as some of the more charismatic canid spe-
cies. He has gone to the source to obtain the most
accurate and reliable information: the biologists and
graduate students that ventured to the circumpolar
region and studied the fox first hand. These interviews
and summations of their research provide an added
edge that is lacking in today’s natural history writing.
The book is divided into three parts: Origins, Adap-
tations, and Change, with each part containing several
chapters. Each chapter covers a particular aspect of
Arctic fox biology and is accompanied by outstanding
full-color photos by photographer Norbert Rosing.
Hamilton uses the stories told by researchers to make
various points about the amazing ecology of the Arctic
fox and incorporates the journal writings of fox hunt-
ers, explorers, and early naturalists that lived within the
Arctic fox’s realm. With these stories and writings,
Hamilton paints a picture of a fox that is a master of
conserving energy, is a clever hoarder of goose eggs,
and is bold enough to follow polar bears (Ursus mar-
itimus) to take advantage of the seal carcasses left
behind. Indeed, the most striking aspect of Hamilton’s
writing is his ability to communicate the adaptability of
the little fox, from reproduction to the constant strug-
gle in obtaining food.
When I first saw the book, I assumed it was some
sort of coffee table tome – it measures 28 × 22 × 2 cm
and is not something easily carried around. However,
once I began reading, I soon realized that it was a
very well researched book that contains nearly every-
thing currently known about the fox. In short, it is a
thorough species account of the Arctic fox, and
exceeded my initial expectations.
I was most inte