For thousands of years, wolves have captured humanity’s imagination. While they may not be as large as lions or bears, wolves still fill people with fear. These sociable animals hunt in packs and are capable of bringing down prey much heavier than them. Their territory can spread over hundreds of miles, and packs can include up to 20 adult members. 

Wolves are the mysterious dog-like species that live in the woods. The word “wolf” carries a meaning of beauty for some and controversy for others. Wolves are the largest members of the dog family, but within the species, there are a variety of breeds, some larger than others.

Wolves are predominantly divided into three species: Ethiopian wolves, red wolves and gray wolves. However, distinctions are made between varieties of wolves within these categories, organizing them into subspecies. Nearly 40 subspecies of wolves are officially recognized, the largest of which fall under the category of gray wolves.

Physical Description Of A Big Wolf

Keen senses, large canine teeth, powerful jaws, and the ability to pursue prey at 60 km (37 miles) per hour equip the gray wolf well for a predatory way of life. A typical northern male may be about 2 metres (6.6 feet) long, including the bushy half-metre-long tail. Standing 76 cm (30 inches) tall at the shoulder, it weighs about 45 kg (100 pounds), but weight ranges from 14 to 65 kg (31 to 143 pounds), depending on the geographic area. Females average about 20 percent smaller than males. The largest wolves are found in west-central Canada, Alaska, and across northern Asia. The smallest tend to be near the southern end of their distribution (the Middle East, Arabia, and India). Fur on the upper body, though usually gray, may be brown, reddish, black, or whitish, while the underparts and legs are usually yellow-white. Light-coloured wolves are common in Arctic regions.

Habits Of A Big Wolf

Wolves hunt and travel in packs. Packs don’t consist of many members, though. Usually, a pack will have only one male and female and their young. This usually means about 10 wolves per pack, though packs as large as 30 have been recorded.

Packs have a leader, known as the alpha male. Each pack guards its territory against intruders and may even kill other wolves that are not part of their pack. Wolves are nocturnal and will hunt for food at night and sleep during the day.

Diet Of A Big Wolf

Wolves are voracious eaters. They can eat up to 20 lbs. (9 kg) of food during one meal. Since they are carnivores, their meals consist of meat that they have hunted.

Gray wolves usually eat large prey such as moose, goats, sheep and deer. Normally, the pack of wolves will find the weakest or sickest animal in a herd, circle it and kill it together. Wolves are known to attack and kill domestic animals as well as animals they find in the wild.

Red wolves eat smaller prey such as rodents, insects and rabbits. They aren’t afraid of going outside their carnivorous diet and will eat berries on occasion, too.

Wolf Population

Today, the world wolf population of all subspecies is unknown. Grey wolves, the most common subspecies, populate the lower 48 states in around the 6,000 range. Wolves have been around since the beginning of the world. Their food source is meat, so they have been known to kill deer, elk, moose, and even livestock. That last one has gotten them on farmers’ hit list.

At one point, wolves were almost extinct due to overhunting, but conservation efforts have brought them back into normal population levels. They were taken off the “endangered species” list in 2020. People disagree whether they are actually endangered still.

Where Do Wolves Live?

Wolves are mostly wild and roam all parts of the world. They currently live in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. They are adaptable creatures and then can live in many different climates, including the desert, grasslands, tundra, forest, and woodlands.

How Big Are Wolves?

As mentioned earlier, the size of an adult wolf is influenced by its genetic makeup and environment. Some wolves, like the Great Plains wolf, will never reach the gargantuan size of a well-fed Alaskan wolf. Wildlife experts say anything over 140 pounds is huge. With length spans ranging from 6 to 7 feet, wolves reach a formidable size among forest predators. However, they’re not nearly as big as some domesticated dog breeds like the Great Dane and English Mastiff.

The biggest wolf in the world was documented in 1939 by a famous wolf trapper in Alaska, Frank Glaser, who caught a 175-pound Mackenzie Valley male. Other non-confirmed documentations include reports of a 230-pound behemoth in Alberta, Canada. In terms of our human perspective, wolves are basically large dogs with powerful prey drives and unchangeable natural instincts.

Do Wolves Attack Humans?

It is extremely rare that wolves attack humans. This idea has mostly been populated out of fear of the creatures, and is largely untrue. Wild wolves are generally scared of humans and will stay away. Out of the documented attacks, most have happened from pet wolves that had become used to humans.

Can You Buy A Wolf As A Pet?

It depends on where you live. Many state or city ordinances forbid citizens from owning a 100% wolf as a pet. Sometimes, a mix is allowed. Check your local laws to be sure.

How Long Do Wolves Live?

Despite wolves’ ferocity, they only have an average life span of a wolf living in the wilderness is up to eight years, according to National Geographic. This is actually much shorter than the average dog lifespan, which is 10 to 13 years. This may be due to the fact that wolves are hunted for sport and may be killed by larger prey (like deer) when it tries to hunt.

What Are The Smallest Wolf Species?

Just for comparison, now that you know how big the largest wolves can get, what is the smallest type of wolf that exists? It is the gray wolf subspecies known as the Arabian Wolf or the Canis lupus arabs.

With an average height of roughly two feet and a weight of 45 pounds, it’s not a very dangerous predator compared to its formidable distant cousin the Mackenzie Valley Wolf. It’s believed that its size was to help it adapt to hotter, drier climates like deserts, where Arabian Wolves are commonly found.

Arabian Wolves are far from the top of their ecosystem’s food chain. Thus, they are omnivores and can survive on plants. For meat, they eat small to medium-sized prey, the remains of carcasses of prey killed by larger predators, and the meat found in garbage bags.

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