Wolf: What You Should Know

The wolf is a predator. It is a species of its own and is the ancestor of today’s domestic dogs. Wolves live together in groups called packs. They have a strict hierarchy and stand up for each other.

There are different subspecies of wolves. Their fur can be different colors. It’s mostly gray here. This is typical of the Eurasian wolf, which lives in large parts of Europe and Asia. Wolves can also vary greatly in size and weight. The largest is about the size of a large domestic dog and rarely weighs more than 60 kilograms. Wolves can smell very well and also hear very well.

Wolves are found in Europe, Asia, and North America. Wolves were almost completely exterminated in central Europe. Today they are multiplying again because they are protected in many countries. In Eastern Europe in the Balkans, in Canada, in Russia, or in Mongolia you can find even more wolves than in our countries.

How do wolves live?

Wolves stick together and would give their lives to protect their pack. A pair of wolves and their cubs always belong to the pack. Most of the time there are still young ones from previous years, maybe also some other animals that have found a place in the pack.

The bosses in the pack are the parents. The cubs obey you. When the wolf packs live in freedom, there is no other hierarchy. That only happens in captivity: some animals then have more say than others.

The leading animals are called alpha animals. You can recognize them by their cocked tail. An omega animal is a lowest-ranking animal in the pack. You can recognize it by the pulled-in tail and the laid-back ears. The letter alpha is the first and omega is the last in the Greek alphabet.

Wolves always hunt in packs. They can run very fast and also have a lot of stamina. They choose a weaker animal and hunt it down until it collapses. Then they circle it, and the leader jumps on it and kills it.

Wolves mate between January and March. The female carries her young in her abdomen for about two months. The pack digs a burrow or expands a fox burrow. There the mother usually gives birth to about four to six young animals. They drink milk from their mother for about six to eight weeks.

During this time, the pack provides the mother with food. They chew up the puppies’ food and put it directly in the puppies’ mouths. That’s why our dogs like to lick people’s mouths. Sometimes the young wolves even chew the food for the old ones when they can no longer do it themselves.

One by one, the young animals leave the den, together with their mother. At five months they have their teeth and can eat completely independently. When they are one or more years old, they leave the pack and look for a partner and a new territory. Then they found a new wolf pack.

Are wolves dangerous?

There are many stories about wolves. Some of them say that the wolf is evil and eats small children. Something like this also occurs in the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf also appears in a number of fables. His name there is Isegrim.

However, a wolf will only attack humans when it feels threatened or when it is about to starve. Wolves tend to be shy and usually stay away from humans unless disturbed or threatened. The most dangerous thing is to get too close to a mother with cubs. Sometimes the wolf can also be sick with the disease rabies, through which he loses his fear of humans.

It can happen that wolves choose sheep or goats as their prey. Therefore, many farmers resist the return of the wolf. Shepherds often keep guard dogs to protect them from wolves. These dogs grow up with the sheep and guard them against wolves. There are even donkeys that scare away the attacking wolves by screaming or biting. Fences can also protect the farmer’s animals.

It is not true that wolves howl at the full moon. However, they howl when they want to tell another pack not to come nearer. Sometimes they call each other by howling.

What subspecies of wolves are there?

If large groups of animals do not mix with others, they develop their idiosyncrasies over many generations. This can affect the physique, but also the behavior. Eleven living and two extinct subspecies are reckoned with in the case of the wolf. However, things are not that simple, because some of the individual subspecies have also mixed with each other again. Here are the most important ones:

The Indian wolf is the smallest. He reaches a maximum of twenty kilograms. It is highly endangered because it can no longer find prey. The Caspian wolf or steppe wolf also lives between the Caspian and the Black Sea. It’s pretty small and light. It is also highly endangered, mainly because people are after it.

The tundra wolf lives in Siberia. It’s quite large and mostly white, so it’s not easy to spot it in the snow. Although he is hunted, there are always about the same number of animals. The Russian wolf is at home in Russia. It is closely related to the Eurasian wolf, but slightly larger. He is hunted and can hold tight in numbers.

The arctic wolf lives in the Canadian Arctic and in Greenland. He too is white. Despite the hunt, he is doing well. The Mackenzie wolf lives in North America, especially in the northern areas. He is very tall. It is sometimes hunted, but it is not endangered. The timber wolf lives in Canada and the USA. It is hunted and endangered. The Mexican wolf lives further south. There are at most fifty animals left and it is threatened with extinction.

A special feature is a dingo in Australia. It evolved from feral domestic dogs. Conversely, our domestic dogs are also a subspecies of the wolf.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *