40 Interesting Facts About Wolves

  1. Wolf is the largest living member of the Canidae (dog-like carnivores) family. It is also known as grey or gray wolf.
  2. There are other types of wolves, along with gray wolves. These include red wolves, Ethiopian wolves, and Eastern wolves (or timber wolves). 
  3. Nearly 5% of mammals mate for life, and grey wolves are one among them. Alpha male and female wolves lead their pack.
  4. Wolves are social animals that usually form packs of 6 to 10 members. This family unit contains a male and female wolf and their offspring. These groups can sometimes have up to two dozen members.
  5. Wolves howl to communicate with other members of their pack or to warn other packs from entering their territory. Wolf howl is audible up to 10 miles in open areas.
  6. Wolves can use different tones while howling. It helps them to deceive their rivals by pretending to be a larger pack.
  7. Wolves can howl aggressively on the nights of a full moon as they can see and hear better on these nights. However, it is a misconception that wolves howl at the moon.
  8. Wolves are nocturnal animals that usually hunt at night. They have unique features in their eyes that assist them in viewing better at night. 
    A wolf with yellow-gold eyes glowing in the dark
    Wolves can see in the dark due to special features in eyes

  9. Wolf pups have blue eyes in the beginning. These turn to yellow-gold after 8 weeks.
  10. Several viral, bacterial, and other parasitic diseases infect wolves. The Arctic and red foxes transmit rabies in wolves, while they get lice and canine parvovirus from dogs. (Source)
  11. Bites from rabid wolves are fatal if injuries are on the face and head. Timely vaccination can save victims with wounds on other parts of the body. An animal eating carcass of an affected animal can also suffer from rabies. (Source)
  12. Despite their perception, wolf attacks on humans are rare. Healthy wolves attacked only 16 humans from 1900 to 2000 in North America. None of these attacks was fatal. Wolves can kill dogs when they enter their territory. (Source)
  13. Wolves attacked nearly 500 people in North America between 2002 and 2020, with several fatalities. Most of these attacks were by rabid wolves. However, wolves can also attack for predation and after provocation. (Source)
  14. The worst man-eating wolf is the “Wolf of Gysinge”. This deadliest wolf killed 12 and injured 19 people in 31 attacks between December 30, 1820, and March 27, 1821. 11 of its victims were children. These deaths were the chief cause of the eradication of wolves from Sweden by the 1960s. Before these attacks, this wolf remained a pet for several years. It reduced the fear of humans in this wolf.
  15. Ireland was previously known as “Wolf Land” due to the abundance of these mammals until the early 17th Century. After eradicating wolves in England in the 1300s and Scotland by the 1680s, the British then wiped out these animals from Ireland by 1786. Wolves are now only present in Dublin Zoo or Fota Wildlife Park. (Source)
  16. Wolves can achieve a maximum speed of around 40 mph for short bursts. However, they mostly rely on endurance to catch prey. They can run at 25 mph for 20 minutes and trot at 5 mph for hours.
  17. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Native Americans were fearful of wolves, and these mammals were part of various legends and rituals. The eradication of wolves in North America started after the arrival of Europeans to protect livestock. This campaign vanished wolves in the region by 1950. (Source)
  18. A wolf pack can maintain a territory of hundreds of miles according to the presence of prey. They defend this territory from other wolf packs.
  19. Wolves can live for up to 13 years. Their common cause of death include parasites, human interference, starvation, and killing by other wolves. 
  20. Dogs are the direct descendants of gray wolves and can be labeled as domesticated wolves. This domestication process started around 130,000 years ago. Dogs are smaller than wolves, with smaller teeth and shorter muzzles. (Source)
  21. There are around 30 extant subspecies of the grey wolf. They live in different parts of the world and have adapted to their climate and geography.
  22. Wolves are currently present in North America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. They faced extensive hunting in the past that reduced their numbers in Western Europe and North America.  
  23. Wolves (Canis lupus) have the highest value of bite force (830.51 pa) among Canidae. (Source)
  24. Wolves prefer eating large mammals, including moose, elk, deer, bison, etc. After capturing prey, they consume up to 20 pounds in a sitting. In their absence, they eat small mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, livestock, carrion, fruits, and garbage. 
    A pack of wolf with a male elk
    Wolves usually hunt and eat large mammals

  25. Wolves can decrease the population of coyotes in an ecosystem. The carcass of their hunt proves beneficial to scavengers and other carnivores in winters. Their presence also reduces overgrazing by herbivores they eat. (Source)
  26. Ravens are known as “wolf birds” due to their close relationships. They take advantage of the carcass left by wolves and play with young wolves. (Source)
  27. Adolf Hitler spent more than 800 days in concrete buildings inside a thick forest in northern Poland during WW2. Hitler’s nickname was “wolf” and the name of this place was “wolf’s Lair”.
  28. The concept of a werewolf (humans turning into wolves) is thousands of years old. In Europe, this superstition justified the killings of criminals, religious minorities, and strangers from the 15th to 17th Centuries. These are known as werewolf trials and took the lives of a few pedophiles and serial killers with numerous foreigners, beggars, and hermits. (Source)
  29. The hunting success rate in wolves is nearly 15%. It is lower than most other land mammals.
  30. There are more than 200,000 wolves around the world. Their status is “least concern” on the IUCN Red List.
  31. The size of the wolves varies according to their geographical location. The largest ones are present in northern Asia, Canada, and Alaska. Wolves in the Middle East and India are the smallest. 
  32. Wolves contain the outer long guard hairs and inner undercoat for protection against cold. They shed the undercoat in spring and re-grow in Autumn.    
  33. The Wolf dog, a hybrid between a wolf and a domesticated dog, is famous as an exotic pet. However, this large animal can prove dangerous. They are usually aggressive and unruly like wolves and need a large amount of meat daily. They also need a vast space to roam and can escape from home.
  34. Wolves can live in several habitats, including tundra, deserts, forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Their size and other features differ according to their habitat.
  35. Dire wolves are well-known ancient Canid in the New World that became extinct 13,000 years ago. But despite their name and physical appearance, they have no genetic similarity with gray wolves. (Source)
  36. You can avoid an attack by a pack of wolves by standing still, appearing big and scary, and not staring at them. (Source)
  37. A newly born cub cannot urinate on its own. The mother massages its belly with her tongue to facilitate this process.
  38. According to estimates, the current highest wolf population is in Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and the USA.
  39. Wolves use their excellent smell and hearing to catch prey and fulfill other tasks. They can smell their prey nearly two miles away. Their sense of smell is 14 times greater than humans and better than dogs. They can also hear and identify sounds several miles away. 
  40. Newly born pups drink their mother’s milk for six to nine weeks. In the next stage, they eat regurgitated meat from their mother.

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