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Post by emily123 on Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:36 pm

Well, I've been so in love with wolves and obsessed that I've decided to do some research on them. I'll post all the information I've got so far down below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. ^^


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the species of wolves?

There are two recognized species of wolves in the world: the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). The Ethiopian (or Abyssinian) wolf, (Canis simensis) is questioned as a true wolf as some researchers believe the Ethiopian wolf is not a wolf, but actually a jackal.

2. What are the subspecies of the gray wolf?

The gray wolf, Canis lupus, lives in the northern latitudes around the world. There are five subspecies of the gray wolf in North America and seven to 12 in Eurasia. The currently recognized subspecies in North America are:

Canis lupus baileyi, commonly referred to as the Mexican wolf or lobo.
Canis lupus nubilus, referred to as the great plains, timber or buffalo wolf.
Canis lupus occidentalis, known as the northwest, Rocky Mountain or MacKenzie Valley wolf.
Canis lupus lycaon, commonly referred to as the eastern timber wolf.
Canis lupus arctos, known as the arctic wolf.
Subspecies are often difficult to distinguish from one another. This is because they interbreed where their ranges overlap so that their populations tend to blend together rather than form distinctive boundaries. The different traits we see in subspecies are likely the result of geographic range, available habitat, and prey base. Skull dimensions, overall size, fur color, and the length of appendages are some of the characteristics that differ between subspecies of gray wolf.

3. What is a pack of wolves?

Wolves usually live in packs which consist of the adult parents, referred to as the alpha pair, and their offspring of perhaps the last 2 or 3 years. The adult parents are usually unrelated and other unrelated wolves may sometimes join the pack.

4. How many wolves are in a pack?

Pack size is highly variable because of birth of pups, dispersal, and mortality. Generally, a gray wolf pack has from six to eight wolves, but in Alaska and northwestern Canada some packs have over 30 members.

Red wolf packs are generally smaller than gray wolf packs and usually have 2 to 8 members, but a pack of 12 is known in the wild.

5. What is a pack territory size?

Territory size is highly variable. Gray wolf territories in Minnesota range from about 25 to 150 square miles, while territories in Alaska and Canada can range from about 300 to 1,000 square miles.

Red wolf territories can be from 10 to 100 square miles, but the territories of red wolves reintroduced into North Carolina have been 38 to 87 square miles.

6. When do wolves breed?

Wolves breed at slightly different times, depending on where they live. For example, gray wolves in the Great Lakes Region breed in February to March, while gray wolves in the Arctic may breed slightly later in March to April.

Red wolves usually breed in January or February.

7. What is the gestation period of a wolf?

The gestation period of gray and red wolves is usually around 63 days.

8. How many pups are born in a pack each year?

A pack normally has only one litter of pups each spring, but in areas of high prey abundance more than one female will give birth in each pack. An average litter size for gray and red wolves is 4 to 6, but several may die if natural prey is not readily available.

9. How much do wolf pups weigh?

Gray wolf pups weigh 1 pound at birth, while red wolf pups weigh less than a pound at birth.

10. How much do adult wolves weigh?

Adult female gray wolves in northern Minnesota weigh between 50 and 85 pounds, and adult males between 70 and 110 pounds. Gray wolves are larger in the northwestern United States, Canada, and Alaska where adult males weigh 85 to 115 pounds and occasionally reach 130 pounds.

Adult female red wolves weigh 40 to 75 pounds, while males weigh from 50 to 85 pounds.

11. How big are wolves?

The average length (tip of nose to tip of tail) of an adult female gray wolf is 4.5 to 6 feet; adult males average 5 to 6.5 feet. The average height (at the shoulder) of a gray wolf is 26 to 32 inches.
The average length (tip of nose to tip of tail) of an adult red wolf is 4.5 to 5.5 feet. The average height (at the shoulder) of an adult red wolf is about 26 inches.

12. How big is a gray wolf's track?

The size of a wolf's track is dependent on the age and size of the wolf, as well as the substrate the track was made in. A good size estimate for a gray wolf's track size is 4 1/2 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide. In comparison, a coyote's track will be closer to 2 1/2 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. Only a few breeds of dogs leave tracks longer than 4 inches (Great Danes, St. Bernards, and some bloodhounds).

13. How many teeth does an adult wolf have?

Adult gray and red wolves have 42 teeth, while adult humans have 32.

14. How strong are a gray wolves' jaws?

The massive molars and powerful jaws of a wolf are used to crush the bones of its prey. The biting capacity of a wolf is 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch. The strength of a wolf's jaws makes it possible to bite through a moose femur in six to eight bites. In comparison, a German shepherd has a biting pressure of 750 pounds per square inch. A human has a much lower biting pressure of 300 pounds per square inch.

15. What do wolves eat?

Gray wolves prey primarily on large, hoofed mammals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, Dall sheep, musk oxen, and mountain goat. Medium sized mammals, such as beaver and snowshoe hare, can be an important secondary food source. Occasional wolves will prey on birds or small mammals.

Red wolves primarily prey on white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits and rodents.

16. How much do wolves eat?

Gray wolves can survive on about 2 1/2 pounds of food per wolf per day, but they require about 5 pounds per wolf per day to reproduce successfully. The most a gray wolf can eat in one sitting is about 22.5 pounds.

Red wolves eat an average of 5 pounds of food per day, but have been known to eat up to 12 pounds in one sitting.

17. How many prey do gray wolves kill per year?

In Minnesota, wolves kill the average equivalent of 15 to 20 adult-sized deer per wolf per year. Given the 2004 estimate of 3,020 wolves in Minnesota, that would equal about 45,300 to 60,400 deer killed by wolves. In comparison, from 1995-1999 hunters killed between 32,300 to 78,200 deer each year in Minnesota's wolf range. In addition, several thousand deer are killed during collisions with vehicles each year.

18. How long do wolves live?

Gray wolves in the wild have an average life span of 6 to 8 years, but have been known to live up to 13 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity. Red wolves in the wild have an average life span of 8 to 9 years, but have been known to live up to 12 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity.

19. What do gray wolves die from?

The natural causes of wolf mortality are primarily starvation, which kills mostly pups, and death from other wolves because of territory fights. While not usually a big problem, disease such as mange and canine parvovirus can be a concern in small and recovering populations. Injuries caused by prey results in some deaths. Human-caused mortality including legal, illegal, and accidental causes, can be high in some populations. Pup mortality rates are highly variable, but approximately 40 to 60% of wolf pups die each year.

20. How fast can gray wolves run?

Wolves will travel for long distances by trotting at about five miles per hour. They can run at speeds of 25 to 35 miles per hour for short bursts while chasing prey.

21. How far can gray wolves travel?

Wolves may travel 10 to 30 miles each day in search of food. Dispersing wolves, those leaving packs in search of their own mate, have been known to travel distances of 550 miles away form their home territory.

~ More continued below ~

( Appearantly there's a size limit... >_> )
Balto Legend
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Location : Florida, US
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Post by emily123 on Mon Nov 24, 2008 2:36 pm

Biology and Behavior


Many of us think of communication only as talking or writing to each other. Those are two ways humans share information every day. How do wolves "converse?" Even though they cannot talk or write, wolves communicate effectively in several ways.

Wolves use body language to convey the rules of the pack. A wolf pack is very organized. Rule number one says that the pack is made up of leaders and followers. The pack leaders are the male parent and the female parent - usually the father and mother of the other pack members. They are likely to be the oldest, largest, strongest and most intelligent wolves in the pack. They are known as the alpha wolves and are usually the only members of the pack to produce pups.

Any wolf can become an alpha. However, to do so, it must find an unoccupied territory and a member of the opposite sex with which to mate. Or, more rarely, it moves into a pack with a missing alpha and takes its place, or perhaps kills another alpha and usurps its mate.

The alpha male and female are dominant, or in charge of the pack. To communicate dominance, the alphas carry their tails high and stand tall. Less dominant wolves exhibit submissive behavior by holding their tails down and often lower their bodies while pawing at the higher ranking wolves.

There are two levels of submissive behavior: active and passive. Active submission is a contact activity in which signs of inferiority are evident such as crouching, muzzle licking and tail tucking. The behaviors typical of active submission are first used by pups to elicit regurgitation in adults. These behaviors are retained into adulthood by subordinate wolves, where they function as a gesture of intimacy and the acceptance of the differentiation of the roles of the wolves that are involved.

Passive submission is shown when a subordinate wolf lays on its side or back, thus exposing the vulnerable ventral side of its chest and abdomen to the more dominant wolf. The subordinate wolf may also abduct its rear leg to allow for anogenital inspection by the dominant wolf. If two wolves have a disagreement, they may show their teeth and growl at each other. Both wolves try to look as fierce as they can. Usually the less dominant wolf, the subordinate one, gives up before a fight begins. To show that it accepts the other wolf's authority, it rolls over on its back. Reactions to this behavior may range from tolerance (the dominant wolf standing over the submissive wolf) to mortal attack, particularly in the case of a trespassing alien wolf. Following the dominance rules usually keeps the wolves in a pack from fighting among themselves and hurting each other.

Wolves convey much with their bodies. If they are angry, they may stick their ears straight up and bare their teeth. A wolf who is suspicious pulls its ears back and squints. Fear is often shown by flattening the ears against the head. A wolf who wants to play dances and bows playfully.

Wolves have a very good sense of smell about 100 times greater than humans. They use this sense for communication in a variety of ways. Wolves mark their territories with urine and scats, a behavior called scent-marking. When wolves from outside of the pack smell these scents, they know that an area is already occupied. It is likely that pack members can recognize the identity of a packmate by its urine, which is useful when entering a new territory or when packmembers become separated. Dominant animals may scent mark through urination every two minutes. When they do so they raise a leg, this dominant posture utilizes multiple forms of communication and is called a "Raised Leg Urination" or RLU.

Wolves will also use urine to scent mark food caches that have been exhausted. By marking an empty cache, the animal will not waste time digging for food that isn't there.

Wolves use their sense of smell to communicate through chemical messages. These chemical messages between members of the same species are known as "pherimones." Sources of pherimones in wolves include glands on the toes, tail, eyes, anus, genitalia and skin. For example, a male is able to identify a female in estrus by compounds (pherimones) present in her urine and copulation will only be attempted during this time.

Of course, their sense of smell also tells them when food or enemies are near.

Have you ever heard a wolf howl? They're not howling at the moon they are communicating. They call any time of the day, but they are most easily heard in the evening when the wind dies down and wolves are most active. Wolves' vocalizations can be separated into four categories: barking, whimpering, growling, and howling. Sounds created by the wolf may actually be a combination of sounds such as a bark-howl or growl-bark.

Barking is used as a warning. A mother may bark to her pups because she senses danger, or a bark or bark-howl may be used to show aggression in defense of the pack or territory.

Whimpering may be used by a mother to indicate her willingness to nurse her young. It is also used to indicate "I give up" if they are in a submissive position and another wolf is dominating them.

Growling is used as a warning. A wolf may growl at intruding wolves or predators, or to indicate dominance.

Howling is the one form of communication used by wolves that is intended for long distance. A defensive howl is used to keep the pack together and strangers away, to stand their ground and protect young pups who cannot yet travel from danger, and protect kill sites. A social howl is used to locate one another, rally together and possibly just for fun.

Can you think of ways that humans communicate without using words?

How Do Wolves Say Hello?

Have you seen dogs jump up to greet their owners, bark at strangers or roll over when another dog approaches? Then you already know something about how wolves communicate. Dogs inherited most of their language from their ancestors, the wolves.

Wolves use three different languages:

1. Sound - Howls, Barks, Whimpers and Growls.
2. Special Scents - Scats, Urine and Pherimones.
3. Body Language - Body Positions and Movements and Facial Expressions.

Wolf Predation on Ungulates

The wolf is a carnivore, an animal suited for catching, killing and eating other creatures. Wolves prey primarily on large, hoofed mammals called ungulates. In Minnesota, the white-tailed deer is the wolf's primary prey, with moose, beaver, snowshoe hare and other small mammals also being taken. Elsewhere, wolves prey on caribou, musk-oxen, bison, Dall sheep, elk, and mountain goats.

All of these ungulates have adaptations for defense against wolves, including a great sense of smell, good hearing, agility, speed, and sharp hooves. As these prey are so well adapted to protecting themselves, wolves feed upon vulnerable individuals, such as weak, sick, old, or young animals, or healthy animals hindered by deep snow. By killing the inferior animals, wolves help increase the health of their prey population a tiny bit at a time. When inferior animals are removed, the prey population is kept at a lower level and there is more food for the healthy animals to eat. Such "culling" also ensures that the animals which reproduce most often are healthy and well suited for their environment. Over many generations, this selection helps the prey become better adapted for survival.

Wolves require at least 3.7 pounds of meat per day for minimum maintenance. Reproducing and growing wolves may need 2-3 times this much. It has been estimated that wolves consume around 10 pounds of meat per day, on average. However, wolves don't actually eat everyday. Instead, they live a feast or famine lifestyle; they may go several days without a meal and then gorge on over 20 pounds of meat when a kill is made.

In Minnesota, each wolf in eats an average of 15-20 adult-sized deer or their equivalent per year to meet their nutritional requirements,. Based on this average, and the estimate of 3,020 wolves in Minnesota, wolves kill the equivalent of about 45,300 to 60,400 adult-sized deer per year. In comparison, Minnesota hunters take around 52,500 deer per year in wolf range (over 250,000 for the entire state) and several thousand are killed during collisions with vehicles.

Wolf predation on ungulates varies seasonally. It is highest during mid to late winter, when animals are suffering from poor nutrition and the snow is deep, making them easier to kill. It is also quite high in early summer when prey animals have their young, as wolves prey heavily on vulnerable young.

The question of whether wolf predation is additive (the number of animals killed are in addition to those which would die otherwise) or compensatory (animals wolves kill would die anyway) is a complicated one, as wolf predation effects vary with the prey species, time of year, area, and system. It is quite probable that wolf predation is both additive and compensatory, and the real question is how much of it is additive.

For example, wolf predation on deer is moderated by the severity of the winters. In a severe winter, wolves may kill healthy deer which would have survived the winter had they not had been made vulnerable by the deep snow. This would be an example of wolf predation as an additive factor. Conversely, in a mild winter, when the snow levels are low, healthy deer easily escape wolves. Therefore, the deer captured are primarily sick or weak. This would be an example of compensatory mortality, as most of these deer probably would not have survived the winter. This is why it is rare to find a starving deer in Minnesota wolf range.

Reciprocally, prey populations may limit wolf numbers. When considering the examples above, the potential for prey numbers or conditions to regulate wolf numbers is observable. In a mild winter, deer will be healthier and wolves may not be able to catch enough animals to feed themselves. This may cause a decrease in the wolf population. It is also possible that several severe winters in a row would decrease deer populations and wolves may not be able to kill enough food to eat, so again wolf numbers would decrease.

Another factor complicating our ability to determine the precise effect of wolf predation, is that it is difficult to tease out the effects wolves have on their prey populations in areas where there are many different predators. For example, in Yellowstone National Park, in addition to wolves, there are grizzly bears, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, wolverines, and black bears which all prey on Yellowstone ungulates.

In summary, we cannot generalize about what kind of effect wolves have on their prey populations, because their effect is dependent on so many factors. It is possible to get an indication of wolf and prey population trends in a small area or system, but generalizing from one to the other is not always valid.
Balto Legend
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Number of posts : 51
Age : 23
Location : Florida, US
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Post by bony on Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:10 pm

W-O-A-w I was reading this for over an hour. I`s cool. But:

-Did you know that wolves and other animals can predict earthqueaks
-Wolves cane hear over 4 km
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Post by bony on Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:11 pm

W-O-A-w I was reading this for over an hour. I`s cool. But:

-Did you know that wolves and other animals can predict earthqueaks
-Wolves cane hear over 4 km
Great Balto Fan
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Number of posts : 43
Age : 23
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