Wolf Species Overview
There are three wolf species in the world: The Gray wolf, Red wolf, and Ethiopian wolf. Several subspecies are named based upon the region where they happen to be found. While there are many similarities between these types of wolves, there are also enough differences to separate them. The more research that is done, the more those distinct differences are seen.
The Gray Wolf is one species of wolf that is well known among many people. They can be all colors and range in size depending on where they happen to reside. They can be found throughout the United States, Canada, and Alaska. They also inhabit some regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Overall they are still considered an endangered species. However, in areas of the United States, they have reached high populations, so controlled hunting is allowed.
The Red Wolf gets its name from the color. They have a reddish tint to their fur that sometimes results in them being confused with the fox. They can also be brown, so they are often believed to be a different species of wolf when they are seen in the wild. They are mainly found around the areas of North Carolina and South Carolina in the United States. They are considered to be critically endangered species and have been so since 1996.
Different Types of Wolves
The Arctic Wolves get attention due to their white and yellow colors. They live in the coldest region of the Arctic, where very few other animals can survive. As a result, they have a vast range to explore. Even so, it can still be tough for them to find enough food for survival. Due to global warming and other factors, this particular type of wolf has had its share of struggles.
Arctic wolves stay with one wolf for an extended period. The alpha male mates with the beta female to produce pups for the pack. The female pup reproduces after the gestation period of 63 days. The young pups are born with blue irises and dark fur, which gradually turns yellow as they grow.
Because arctic wolves live in a harsh environment, they are not faced with the threat of hunting or trapping like other wolves.
There are about 3,000 Indian Wolves left in the wild. They are found in remote locations, including Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, around the areas of India. They are in grave danger of extinction as it is heavily hunted. In many areas of India, the people are very poor. What livestock they do have they don’t want to see killed by these wolves. They also hunt them as a source of meat for their own survival. The Indian Wolves continue to have their territory taken, making it more common for them to come into the areas where people live.
Indian wolves are known subspecies of Grey wolves and are often found in India, Nepal, Turkey, and Pakistan. This subspecies of wolves are known to practice monogamy, where the male and female wolf mate for a long time. The female wolf will have several dens to protect the young wolves, and they will be allowed to move friends after 3 months.
Indian wolves have thin and short fur and long back hair during summer. Generally, they have greyish fur, but some of them still have reddish-white fur. This subspecies of wolves are known for preying on children and being predators on common livestock, which is one reason for their extinction. Indians protect their domestic animals from wolves by hunting them.
Habitation and general features
Indian wolves prefer to live in smaller packs. Hence you hardly find more than 6 of them living or moving together. It is also established that they do not frequently howl like other species or subspecies of wolves. These animals prefer to hunt their prey at night. Hunting big animals, Indian wolves have the tactic of using one of them as a decoy. This distracts the animal and allows the others to overpower it from the back.
Indian wolves are greatly endangered not only by those hunting them, but lack of habitation and low availability of prey leads to the extinction of the subspecies wolf.
The Himalayan Wolves reside around remote areas that include five countries: Bhutan, India, Nepal, China, and Pakistan. It is believed they were separated from other wolves long ago through an evolution process due to the glaciers being in place. They do have some territory that overlaps with the Indian Wolves. However, there is no evidence that they form packs together or breed between these two species.
Because of the rarity of this wolf species, it has become a global need to preserve them and prevent continual killing by villagers.
The Ethiopian Wolves are found in areas of Africa. They are very closely related to the Gray Wolf. They are a small type of wolf, and are often mistaken for coyotes due to that fact. They live in packs but are often seen venturing out on their own to hunt small prey. They don’t seem to have the same need for the complex social structure as other wolf species.
Ethiopian wolves look specifically different from other species of wolf. They are usually thin/slender and long-limbed. They have reddish coats with white marks on their tails, face, legs, and chin. They also have their tails marked with undefined black stripes, and there is a distinct white mark beneath their eyes. These unique features make it easy to recognize them.
Reportedly, these wolves gather together for border patrol and protect their territory together. They also maintain a hierarchical structure where there is the dominating pair and the submissive ones. The young pups also play-fight to establish rank among them. Though they hunt individually, they still move together in packs for their social activities.
Ethiopian wolves are also monogamous. The two dominating pairs mate together forever. Mating occurs between August and November, after which the dominating female wolf gives birth. The young pups are born and kept in a den dug by their mother. The pups go through 3 stages of development. Within the first 4 weeks, they depend entirely on their mother for milk. The next stage is between the 5th and 10th week. During this stage, the pups eat food regurgitated by the adult wolves, and after the 10th week, they are ready to eat solid food.
They are found in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, around Arssi and Bale mountains. One impressive feature of the Ethiopian wolves is their social activities.
Ethiopian wolves are mainly the wolves found in Africa; however, they face constant hunting.
Though eastern wolves can be found in places like Quebec, Minnesota, and Manitoba, they are natives of Northeastern America in the Great Lakes region. This subspecies of wolves live in mixed forests and coniferous forests in the north. Like other wolf species, they live in packs and protect their den from other species and animals. They have different colors ranging from brown to black and appear a little scary, unlike the Indian wolves.
Eastern wolves are monogamous. The strongest male and female wolves of the pack usually mate between January and February, after which the female wolf reproduces pups. The young pups are kept in the den for 8 weeks before moving around with the pack.
The pack is usually dominated by the strongest wolf, on whom the responsibility to maintain the whole pack lies. For feeding, the pack catches prey together. Usually, a pack of eastern wolves consists of only the strong ones as the weak ones are eliminated to retain the pack’s strength and prevent intrusion from other wolves.
Also, eastern wolves are known for frequent howling. They do this to mark and protect their territories.
Eastern wolves suffer death from constant trapping and hunting, which is a significant reason for reducing the number of this subspecies. Another reason for their extinction is the practice of eliminating the weak in the pack
General lifestyle and location
Like the Indian wolves, the northwestern wolves are also a subspecies of the Gray wolf and are found in North America, particularly in Alaska, Alberta, southward Canadian, and the Northwestern United States. They are arguably the largest subspecies of wolves and can be of any color between black, gray, white, blue-ish, and tan. However, black and gray ones are more common.
They live in the rocky and mountain part of the forest.
Also, like other wolves, northwestern wolves live in a pack, and a regular pack consists of about 12 wolves. The strongest wolves control the pack, and the strongest pair are usually the only ones reproducing in a pack. The pack system embodies an apparent hierarchy system, and there is a sign of submissiveness portrayed through the subordinate wolves’ body gestures.
Northwestern wolves have keen senses of hearing, smell, and sight and these attributes are very useful for them during hunting. Hence, they are known for their bad image of being heavy predators. They can also travel long and fast but do not usually exceed their territory.
An alpha male and beta female wolf mate exclusively and produce pups. The female usually reproduces about 6 pups after its gestation period. The young pups are born blind and deaf but begin to hear and see after 14 days. They are subsequently kept in the den for 4-6 weeks, after which they are allowed to move about freely in the territory.
Northwestern wolves face extinction due to constant trapping and hunting.
Fun fact: Wolves hear 40 times faster and better than humans.
If you are interested in learning about the different types of wolves, as it can be fun and exciting to learn more about them. You will find plenty of documentaries, books, and other resources about them online, in bookstores, and even at your local library. The fact that many wolves are endangered means that you may want to take part in efforts to keep them around.