Wolf

Gray Wolf Facts
Size Up to 3.2 ft (1 m) (shoulder height)
Speed Up to 4.9 mph (8 km/h) (long distances)
Weight Up to 176 lb (80 kg)
Lifespan 10 - 12 years
Food Goats, sheep, cattle, moose, horses
Predators -
Habitat Northern hemisphere
Order Carnivore
Family Dogs
Scientific name Canis lupus
Characteristics All dogs descend from the wolf
Big Bad Wolf (?)

In „Little Red Riding Hood“, the big bad wolf devours grandma, and in “The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids”, little goats end up in its stomach.

Even apart from that, the wolf is not very popular, because it feeds on domestic goats, sheep, and cattle. Some even say that the wolf also attacks humans. Yet, there does not exist one single official report stating that a healthy wolf has ever tried to attack and eat a human being.

Normally wolves keep away from humans. But humans are gradually taking over more and more of the wolf’s habitat, so that the wolf does no longer have many options to withdraw.

Gray Wolf Gray Wolf - Photo: mlorenz/Shutterstock

Isn’t the Wolf Just a Kind of Wild Dog?

On the contrary: In the course of the centuries, the dog breeds have evolved from the wolf. All domestic dogs from the German shepherd and the poodle to the labrador, the chiahuahua, and the husky have descended from the wolf. Wolves and dogs still have many anatomical and biological characteristics in common, yet they are totally different.

Gray Wolf Gray Wolf - Photo: Derek R. Audette/Shutterstock

The Pack

Wolves live in families, which are called packs. Formerly, people believed that a pack of wolves is always being led by the highest ranking, oldest, and strongest male animal, which was called an “alpha animal”.

Alpha, because this is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. The omega animal therefore has the lowest rank as it is the last letter of the alphabet. 

Yet, only wolves in captivity show this behavior. In the wild, wolves do not fight to establish their ranking. Normally, a family of wolves includes two adult animals (the leaders) and their offspring.

The pack usually has about 8 members, but sometimes there are packs of 20 - 30 wolves.

Gray Wolf Gray Wolf - Photo: Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock

Why do Wolves Howl to the Moon?

The howling of wolves can have many different meanings: “Quick, come here!”, “Stop, stranger! This is my territory!” or “Let’s go hunting!” It hasn’t got anything to do with the moon.

How About Some Soccer?

Wolves like to play games. They sometimes play “soccer” with bones and branches.

Reproduction

After mating it takes between 62 and 75 days until 1 - 12 cubs are being born in a den. They are deaf and blind and open their eyes after 11 - 15 days. After 20 days they leave their den for the first time. They are being breast-fed for 6 - 8 weeks.

Gray Wolf Gray Wolf - Photo: Cynthia Kidwell/Shutterstock


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