Wolves are lovely creatures that have been eye-catching over different centuries. Back in ancient times, several myths have been developed that have led to them being heavily hunted. According to modern statistics, wolves may not exist in the next 50 years because of their indiscriminate hunting.
Wolves are very similar creatures to dogs in terms of physical appearance. The truth is that they have many similarities in common, save that wolves have long legs. Additionally, wolves are largely carnivorous. They largely devour mammals like elk, deer, moose, and bison.
Sometimes, they hunt animals like rodents, beavers, and hares. Also, wolves can survive in regions that experience unfavorable weather conditions. There are wolves in arctic places which can survive extremely cold conditions, even up to -40°C.
CHARACTERISTICS OF WOLVES
Wolves have amazing characteristics which are rare in other animals. Some of the features include;
- They are very intelligent creatures
- Wolves have upright ears
- Their muzzles are pointed
- They have sharp teeth and inquiring eyes
Although wolves have varying weights all around the world, their average weight is 50 kilograms. However, some wolves weigh up to 80 kilograms.
Wolves have stamina which makes them able to travel for long distances. They have powerful backs, strong legs, and narrow chests to move effectively. They can cover tangible miles at a pace of 6 miles per hour. They can run 16 feet for each sprint.
WOLVES’ SOCIAL STRUCTURE
Wolves are often seen in packs. Each pack of wolves has both male and female wolves. They move together and form a territory for themselves. As time passes, they raise cubs till the cubs are old enough to create their territories.
Another social structure in a pack is the hierarchy. The alpha male leads the male wolves in the pack and the alpha female leads the female wolves. However, the alpha male is the head of every pack.
It may surprise you that wolves howl for numerous reasons. The amazing fact about their howling is that wolves of the same pack can recognize each other’s howling. Some of the reasons wolves howl include;
- To rally for a hunt
- When they are mourning
- To communicate with a separated pack member or another pack
- To declare and display territoriality
- For the protection of a fresh kill.
TYPES OF WOLVES
Wolves are very diverse. This is because wolves were once evenly distributed all over the world. Hence, there was a need to develop adaptive features. This led to having a great species index.
Largely, there are 2 major wolf breeds. Oftentimes, it has been argued that these two species are responsible for the other kinds of wolves. Currently, there is a major argument about how many kinds of wolves exist. This is because of the different subspecies of a gray wolf.
The two major wolf breeds are:
- Red wolves
- Gray wolves
The common types of wolves are:
The gray wolf is the commonest type of wolf. They are also known as timber wolves. They are black-tipped and have bushy tails. Their name is from the gray color of their coats with a little brown as markings and undersides.
Their sizes depend on their territory. Nevertheless, the northern gray wolves are often bigger than the southern gray wolves. Their common locations are Alaska, northern Wisconsin, northern Michigan, western Montana, northeast Oregon, northern Idaho, etc.
An arctic wolf is often called a white or polar wolf. They are inhabitants of Greenland and the arctic locations of North America. There are more existing species of the arctic wolf because the location is isolated.
A red wolf has a brown and black color on its back. Well, its name is from the red tint on the fur. This red tint could be around their muzzle, back of their legs, and behind their ears. From afar, one would almost think a red wolf is a common German shepherd.
It is found in regions like Central Pennsylvania, North Carolina’s Albermarle Penisula, and Southern Texas. A red wolf can survive in any location.
The Indian wolf belongs to the same species as the Gray wolf. Its major locations are the Indian subcontinent and Southwest Asia. It is a short wolf with thin fur. It has pale limbs if compared with the body.
The Himalayan wolf is an old type of wolf located around the Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya mountains. It is one of the most hunted wolves and should be protected. It has genetic evidence that makes it different from Gray wolf.
Being native to Ethiopia, these wolves are slender, long-limbed, and are endangered in Africa. They can have a 40 cm length. Their tail is black and bushy while it has white fur along its throats.
Eastern wolf has been separated to be a species on its own and no longer a subspecies of the gray wolf. It is a largely threatened species. It is found majorly in Western Quebec and southern Ontario.
Other Kinds of Wolves
Wolf belongs to the Canid family. The family has over 30 living species. However, 8 of these species are found in North America. The species here consist of:
- Red wolves
- Gray wolves
- Red Foxes
- Kit foxes
- Gray foxes
- Arctic foxes
- Swift foxes
This category was further divided into 3 major categories. They are wolves, foxes, and coyotes.
By nature, wolves are the largest species of the canid family. However, hunting and other human careless actions have created the loss of many species of wolves. Wolves are now endangered and should be protected for generations.
Fun facts about wolves
- Wolves are believed to be the wild ancestors of domesticated dogs, bulldogs, poodles, and greyhounds.
- The largest living wild canine species are Gray wolves.
- A wolf pack hunts within its territory of 50 square miles.
- Although a wolf can run 40 miles in an hour, it travels at most, 8 kilometers in an hour.
- People believe wolves don’t howl at the moon. However, they howl to communicate with other kinds of wolves in the pack or another pack.