101 Facts About Wolves


  • North America has two species of wolves, Gray Wolf and Red Wolf.
  • The scientific name of the Gray wolf is Canis lupus while that of the Red Wolf is Canis rufus.
  • North America has five subspecies of gray wolves – Artic wolf, North-western wolf, Great Plains wolf, Mexican wolf, and Eastern timber wolf.
  • They are carnivores and eat mainly meat although Red Wolves sometimes don’t.
  • Some subspecies of the Gray wolf are considered an endangered species.
  • Wolves are usually in the company of Ravens. Raven feed on what is left after wolves make their kill.
  • Red wolves are listed as critically endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.)

If you would like to know the many ways that wolves communicate, I have written an article here, which you may find interesting.

  • Wolves grow very dense fur during winter which they shed once spring hits.
  • Gray wolves have distinct silvery gray-brown backs, and their fur comes in different shades of gray, black, white, brown.
  • Wolves travel and hunt in packs.
  • Wolves hunt at night.
  • Wolves create and mark their pack’s territories which they defend aggressively against intruders.
  • Wolves are nocturnal and usually sleep during the day.
  • A wolf pack is made up of 5 to 10 wolves which contains at least two breeding adults.
  • A wolf pack has a dominant male wolf (alpha) who leads the pack and owns the territory.
  • A male wolf with no pack needs to mark territory for itself and find a female wolf to mate with.
  • Dominant male wolves with no pack can sometimes challenge the alpha of a pack. After the fight, the wolf still standing becomes the new alpha.
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  • Gray wolves love hunting large mammals with hooves like moose, elk, deer, etc. They also prey on small mammals which make up most of their diet.
  • Red Wolves prefer hunting small prey like rabbits and rodents. They also eat insects and berries.
  • Wolves are voracious eaters and can eat up to 20 – 30 pound of meat per meal. 
  • Gray wolves can live healthy without food for about 14 days.
  • A wolf pack can spend eight to ten hours per day hunting and on the move, especially in winter.
  • Wolves have an acute and keen sense of sight and hearing. A wolf’s hearing is keen enough to hear a leaf fall some distance away.
  • Hunting is generally done in the evening and at night.
  • A wolf can hear 20 times sharper than a human being. 
  • A wolves sense of smell is not as strong as that of other dogs in its family.
  • A wolf’s sense of smell is 100 times better than that of a man.

If you would like to know what types of wolves live in America, I have written an article, which you can find here.

  • Wolves develop a strong bond with other pack members,
  • When hunting, wolves can move at about 8 km/ph (5mph) for a long period.
  • Wolves are usually hunted by humans because of fear of their attack, or after they kill livestock.
  • A mature gray wolf is generally between 4 to 6½ ft long.
  • Male wolves are larger than female wolves.
  • A typical male wolf weighs between 27 and 45 kgs.
  • A mature female wolf weighs only 27 and 36 kgs.
  • Young wolves are called pups.
  • It takes between 6 and 8 months for a wolf pup to reach adult size and start hunting
  • Pups are mature for mating (adults) after 22 months.
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  • A young wolf can leave its pack to join another pack or form its pack once it is sexually mature.
  • Wolves always mate very late in winter seasons, usually between late January and early March.
  • The gestation period of wolves is nine weeks (63 days.)
  • A typical wolf litter size range from 4 to 11 pups.
  • Pups are deaf and blind when they are born.
  • It takes 15 days for a wolf pup to open its eyes.
  • Young wolf pups drink milk from their mother for about five to ten months before eating real food. Food is usually regurgitated from an older wolf in the pack to the pups.
  • An average wolf living in the wild has a life span of 4 to 9 years.
  • A wolf kept in captivity can live for more than 14 years.
  • The most enormous wolf ever killed in North America weighed more than 75kg. 
  • Wolf packs move around. A wolf pack can travel up to 20 kilometers a day.
  • Howling is a means of communication with other wolves in the pack.
  • Urinating or leaving feces on trails is another method wolves use to communicate and to mark their territory.
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  • When hunting as a pack, wolves employ various signals to communicate with each other
  • Each wolf has its unique scent marker in their urine and feces.
  • Research shows that wolves do make friends. They howl more to wolves in their pack that they spend more time with than other pack members.
  • Gray wolves are also referred to as the common wolf and timber wolf
  • Because red wolves are critically endangered, pups born in captivity are given to wild red wolves in the process of fostering.
  • Wolves growl and snarl when they feel threatened.
  • Wolves love chewing on bones and playing with each other.
  • A wolf track is very similar to that of a large dog and very difficult to see the difference.
  • A wolf can quickly reach a top speed of 40 mph in a short period when chasing prey.
  • Wolves usually have only one mate for life
  • A wolf territory can span thousands of miles. They do this to ensure they have a steady supply of food when hunting.
  • Wolves hunt within their territories.
  • Wolves communication system involves howling, scent making, barking, yelping, and at times dancing.
  • Roman myths and folklore speak of a wolf goddess with gracious and refined fighting skills.
  • Gray wolves have advanced hunting abilities and a fierce appearance.
  • A wolf pack has its social hierarchy, and wolves are ranked based on their roles in the pack.
  • A wolf howl can travel a few miles. 
  • Wolves also use howling as a means of attracting mates.
  • To conserve their body warmth in the winter, wolves reduce the amount of blood that flows near their skin.
  • Compared to male fur, a female wolf has smoother fur.
  • When curled up, a wolfs fur can keep their temperature to about – 40 degrees
  • As acute and sharp as their hunting skills are, wolf hunts are not always successful.
  • Wolves have 42 teeth, each with its specialized function. There are 12 incisors, four canines, ten carnassials, 16 premolars, and molars.
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  • A typical wolf fang is about 1-2 inches long.
  • Wolves have a long bushy tail which usually has black tips.
  • Wolves can start howling because they heard a nearby howl.
  • A wolf will sacrifice itself to protect its pack.
  • Every member of a pack contributes to the upkeep of the pups.
  • Birth period of wolves usually fall between late April and early May.
  • A wolf can leave its pack or be driven off by the alpha. Such a wolf is referred to as a lone wolf.
  • A lone wolf rarely howls and rely on its silence and intelligence when hunting for food.
  • Wolves are one of the best-known animals in the world.
  • For 101 facts on moose, click here.
  • They are members of the Canidae family and are the largest member.
  • In a pack, other wolves approach the alpha with their body lowered and its tail between its legs. 
  • An Alpha wolf moves around in a pack with its head and tail held high.
  • Wolves can leap about 16 ft horizontally when running in a single bound
  • Wolves play a significant role in balancing the ecosystem. They prey on deer and elk which are herbivores. This benefits plant growth in their territory.
  • Wolves are regarded as apex Predators. Only brown bears can threaten them.
  • Wolves eat their prey alive, unlike other predators like lions that kill their prey before eating.
  • Wolves rarely attack humans. They instead prey on mammals in the wild and domestic livestock if there is a low source of food.
  • Wolves are one of the animal species that witnessed and survived the ice age.
  • For 101 facts on weasels, click here.
  • They are scavengers and will eat half-eaten carcasses left by another predator.
  • Pups are born in caves, dens or burrows so that they are well protected because they are born blind.
  • Wolves can swim and regularly take baths in the summer to cool themselves.
  • Wolves are rarely kept as pets by humans.
  • A wolf mother has to warmly and gently massage the belly of her pup with her tongue before it can urinate.
  • Gray wolves walk on their toes, not on their feet.
  • After hunting down prey, the alpha and its mate are the first to eat.
  • Wolf pups are allowed to fight with each other in a bid to identify an alpha wolf among them.
  • Alpha wolves look at other wolves directly in the eye as a sign of dominance.
  • Alpha wolfs urinate at strategic places to mark its pack’s territory.

For a complete guide on the gray wolf, I have written an article, which you can find here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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