This page is all about the star of WolfQuest: the wolf! The game gives us a sneak peek at the secret life of the wolf. Let's dig a little deeper, shall we?
Anatomy and Family
Wolves are the largest carnivorous member of the dog, or Canid family. Wolves are common in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and have a life span of 5-9 years in the wild. They are usually shy and careful around humans. Unlike the dog, they have not been domesticated at all. The most common type of wolf is the gray wolf, or timber wolf. Adult grey wolves are 4 to 6.70 ft (120 to 200 cm) long and weigh about 40 to 175 lbs (18 to 79 kg). Just like its name, the gray wolf typically has thick gray fur with brown, white, black, and sometimes reddish variations. Pure white or black coats also exist.
The red wolf is a gray wolf subspecies that's a bit smaller and not as common. They eat smaller prey such as rodents, insects and rabbits. Red wolves aren't afraid of going outside their carnivorous diet and will eat berries on occasion too. They grow to around 4.5 to 5.5 ft long (137.16 to 167.64 cm) and weight 50 to 80 lbs (23 to 36 kg), according to the Defenders of Wildlife organization.
The Eastern wolf, a.k.a. the Great Lakes wolf, Eastern timber wolf, Algonquin wolf, or deer wolf, has been deemed a distinct species from it's western cousins, according to a review by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists. Eastern wolves used to live in the northeastern United States, but now remain only in southeastern Canada.
Habits and Habitat
Wolves are found in North America, Europe, Asia and North Africa. They tend to live in the remote wilderness, though red wolves prefer to live in swamps, coastal prairies and forests. Many people think wolves only live in colder climates, but wolves can live in temperatures that range from -70 to 120 degrees F° (-50° to 48.8° C), according to the San Diego Zoo. Wolves hunt and travel in packs, though they don't consist of many members. Usually, a pack will have only one alpha pair and their young. This usually means about 10 wolves per pack, though packs as large as 30 have been recorded. Packs have a leader, known as the alpha male. Each pack guards its territory against intruders and may even attack other wolves that are not part of their pack. Wolves are active during both the night and day, and will hunt for food most of the time.Pups
The alpha male and female are usually the only ones in a pack that will have offspring, and will usually mate in late winter. The female has a gestation period of nine weeks and gives birth to a litter consisting of one to 11 pups. When the're born, the pups are taken care of by all of the adult wolves in the pack. Young pups start off drinking milk from their mother, but around five to 10 weeks after birth, they will start eating already chewed up food regurgitated from adult pack members. At six months, wolf pups become hunters, and at 2 years old they are considered adults.
Wolves are voracious eaters. They can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat in one sitting! Gray wolves usually eat large prey such as moose, bison, elk, buffalo, deer, and livestock if they can. Normally, a wolf pack will seek out the weakest or sickest animal in a herd, circle it, and kill it together.
Place in The Animal Kingdom
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Species: canis lupus (gray wolf), canis rufus (red wolf), canis lycaon (Eastern wolf)
Did You Know?
- Packs of wolves don't like to stay in one place. They are known to travel as far as 12 miles (20 kilometers) per day!
- Wolves have friends, and they howl to communicate with other members of the pack. Researchers have found that they howl more to pack members that they frequently spend time with.
- There are many names for gray wolves. Besides timber wolf, they are also called common wolf, tundra wolf, and plains wolf.
- To help with the red wolf population, the wild ones are given pups that are born in captivity. This is called "fostering."
- Wolves also communicate by leaving scent marking such as urine or feces on a trail.
- Wolves are very similar to dogs in behavior. They love to play, chew on bones but will growl or snarl when threatened.
Find more resources and learn more about wolves!