Red wolves mate for life, and each pack is formed around the breeding pair. Usually red wolves form a group of five to eight, composed of the breeding male and female and their offspring from different years. The pack is a very close family unit. Older offspring will help the breeding male and female raise their younger siblings, and will also attend the den. Within one to three years, the younger wolves will leave the pack in search of their own mates and territory.

Red wolves are lean canids, often with black-tipped bushy tails. Their coats are mostly a brown or buff color, with some black along their backs. There is sometimes a reddish tint to the fur on their muzzle, behind their ears, and on the backs of their legs. At a glance, a red wolf may look somewhat like the domestic German shepherd.

The red wolf is the world’s most endangered wolf. Once common throughout the Eastern and South Central United States, red wolf populations were decimated by the early 20th century as a result of intensive predator control programs and the degradation and alteration of the species’ habitat. When the red wolf was first designated as a species “threatened with extinction” under the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated efforts to conserve and recover the species. Today, about 15-17 red wolves roam their native habitats in eastern North Carolina as a nonessential experimental population (NC NEP), and approximately 241 red wolves are maintained in 45 captive breeding facilities throughout the United States.

Appearance Of A Red Wolf

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is a native North American canid intermediate in size between the coyote (Canis latrans) and gray wolf (Canis lupus). Red wolves are mostly brown and buff colored with some black along their backs, often with a reddish color on their ears, head and legs. Adult red wolves range in weight from about 45 to 80 pounds. Red wolves have wide heads with broad muzzles, tall pointed ears, and longslender legs with large feet. Red wolves stand about 26 inches at their shoulder and are about 4 feet long from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.

Habitat Of A Red Wolf

In the late 1970s, red wolves in the wild were found only in southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana in coastal prairie and marsh habitat. However, any habitat in the Southeastern United States of sufficient size, which provides adequate food, water, and cover, could be suitable for the red wolf. Telemetry studies in eastern North Carolina indicate that red wolf home range requirements vary from about 20 to 80 square miles, depending on availability of prey.

Behavior Of A Red Wolf

Red wolves are social animals that live in close-knit packs. Typical packs consist of a family group comprised of five to eight animals, including a breeding adult pair and their offspring of different years. Older offspring will often assist the breeding pair in pup rearing. Almost all offspring between one and two years of age will leave the pack or disperse to form their own pack.

Red wolves tend to form pair-bonds for life and mate once a year in February. Pups are typically born in April or May in well-hidden dens that may be located in hollow trees, stream banks and sand knolls. Dens have also been found in holes dug in the ground near downed logs or forest debris piles. Fewer than half of wolf pups born in the wild survive to adulthood. Survival rates are affected by disease, malnutrition and predation.

Incredible Red Wolf Facts!

  • Scientists debate whether the red wolf is a new cross-species between a coyote and gray wolf, an ancient cross-species, a distinct wolf species with recent hybridization with the coyote, or a new, distinct wolf species altogether.
  • It was almost driven to extinction in the mid-1900s due to habitat destruction, predator-control programs, and excessive hybridization with coyotes.
  • The species was declared extinct in the wild in 1980.
  • A captive-bred population of Texas red wolves was created in the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium between 1974-1980. They were reintroduced into eastern North Carolina in 1987.
  • Two of the three subspecies of red wolf are now extinct: The black wolf and the Missippi Valley wolf.
  • The red wolf is one of the rarest animal species in the world.

What Do Red Wolves Look Like?

Red wolves are lanky, with bushy tails and a black tip on that. Their coats are usually brownish in color, and the posterior portion of their bodies has a hint of black. In certain cases, there can be a reddish tinge present in the fur on the muzzle, back of the legs, and behind the ears. The carnivorous mammal has a creamy belly. It has long ears and long legs with big feet. A red wolf looks similar to a German Shepherd dog.

How Cute Are They?

The red wolves look as cute as any domestic German Shepherd dog. These furry babies have reddish-brown hair coats and bushy tails.

How Do They Communicate?

Red wolves communicate via their body movements, marking scents and making different voices which include howls, growls, and barking. The red wolf’s howl is quite similar to that of a coyote’s. It is differentiated because of its lower pitch and longer span of time.

How Big Is A Red Wolf?

The red wolf looks somewhat similar to both the coyote and the gray wolf. It is also of a size that is in between a coyote and the gray wolf. Unlike its cousin, the red wolf is more slender than gray wolves, and it is larger when you measure it against a coyote. A male red wolf weighs around 40-80 lb (23-39 kg) and is 4.5-5.5 ft (1.36-1.60 m) in length, and its height is 15-16 in (0.66 m).

How Fast Can A Red Wolf Run?

Wolves tend to trot at 5 mph. When they run, they can speed up to 36 to 38 mph (57.93-61.15 km/h). These speed-ups are done for short bursts while the wolf is chasing prey. However, wolves are capable of maintaining pursuits for longer periods, even on rough terrains.

How Much Does A Red Wolf Weigh?

Adult female Red Wolves weigh around 52 lb (23.58 kg) and adult males average 61 lb (27.66 kg).

What Are Their Male And Female Names Of The Species?

Male red wolves are commonly called dogs whereas female red wolves are called bitches.

What Would You Call A Baby Red Wolf?

A baby red wolf is called a pup.

What Do They Eat?

Red wolves generally hunt small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents. At times it is been observed that this endangered species eats berries and insects. In the restored population currently existing in Eastern North Carolina, United States,  however, red wolves tend to hunt white-tailed deer, nutria and raccoons.

Are They Slobbery?

Red wolves and other wild canine animals aren’t usually slobbery. Dogs that have wolf-shaped faces don’t usually drool either.

Would They Make A Good Pet?

Red Wolves should not be kept as pets. They can be sociable if they are hand-raised from a very young age, but although on various occasions they behave tamed and friendly to humans, they are not supposed to be domesticated. Domesticated animals like dogs and horses should never be confused with a red wolf’s characteristics since the former have lived with humans for centuries and have adapted to being companions to humans and also the domesticated lifestyle. Wolves are dominant creatures and they cannot be domesticated by humans in the way a dog can. In most states, it is illegal to own a wolf without obtaining a special permit. On top of everything, a wolf can be dangerous to humans too. However, there are very few, almost negligible, cases of red wolves attacking humans.

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