READ!: Wolf Q&A - Frequently Asked Questions (Updated)

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READ!: Wolf Q&A - Frequently Asked Questions (Updated)

Post by Blightwolf » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:35 pm

Wolf Q&A:
Frequently Asked Questions

A comprehensive index to the most commonly asked wolf-related questions.

What is the scientific classification of the gray wolf?

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Tribe: Canini
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
Binomial name: Canis lupus (Linnaeus, 1758)

What is the average weight, height and length of a wolf?

Adult female gray wolves weigh between 50 and 85 pounds and adult males between 70 and 110 pounds. 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.

What is the weight/size of the biggest/largest wolf ever recorded?

The heaviest recorded gray wolf in North America was killed on 70 Mile River in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939 and weighed 175 lbs, while the heaviest recorded wolf in Eurasia was killed after World War II in Kobeliaky, Poltavskij Region, Ukrainian SSR, and weighed 190 lbs. Wolves rarely exceed over 120 pounds in weight, but exceptionally large individuals have been recorded in Alaska, Canada, and the former Soviet Union.

How many teeth wolves have?

Wolves have 42 teeth specialized for stabbing, shearing and crushing bones. The first four teeth, front and bottom, are called incisors, and are used for nipping and gnawing meat from the bone. Wolves use their canine teeth, which can grow to be 2 inches in length, for gripping and holding itself to the prey animal. The premolars are used for slicing and grinding. The specialized molars, called carnassials, are used for slicing and tearing. The last molars are used for pulverizing and grinding food.

How many scent glands wolves have and where are they located?

Wolves have three scent glands. A precaudal gland is located on the lower part/the base of the tail and the other two glands are positioned around their eyes and between their toes. Wolves use their glands to spread scent messages which work as invisible signals for other wolves (i.e. scent-rolling to mark territory). Female wolves also produce pheromones during the breeding season.

When do wolves breed, how long is their gestation period, when are their young ones born and how much do they weigh?

Wolves breed once a year in late winter or early spring depending on where they live. The standard gray wolf's mating season takes place in February to March. Wolves that live in Arctic regions typically breed a few weeks later, in March to April. Red wolves breed in late January or early February.

The gestation period (length of pregnancy) of gray and red wolves is usually around 63 days. Wolf pups are born in spring time and they are deaf and blind, and their weight at birth is most normally 1 pound.

How fast can wolves run?

Wolves will travel for long distances by trotting at about 5 miles per hour. They can run at speeds of 36 to 38 miles per hour for short bursts while chasing prey. Although bursts of maximum speed are relatively short, wolves can maintain pursuit of running prey animals for long distances and over rough terrain.

How far can wolves travel?

Wolves are hunters, and they travel far and wide to locate prey. They may travel 50 miles or more each day in search of food, and they are superbly designed for a life on the move.

What do wolves eat?

Wolves are carnivores, or meat-eaters. Gray wolves prey primarily on ungulates - large, hoofed mammals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, Dall sheep, musk oxen, and mountain goats. Medium-sized mammals, such as beaver and snowshoe hares, can be an important secondary food source. Occasionally wolves will prey on birds or small mammals such as mice and voles, but these are supplementary to their requirements for large amounts of meat. Wolves have been observed catching fish in places like Alaska and western Canada. They will also kill and eat domestic livestock such as cattle and sheep, and they will consume carrion if no fresh meat is available. Some wolves eat small amounts of fruit, although this is not a significant part of their diet. If prey is abundant, wolves may not consume an entire carcass, or they may leave entire carcasses without eating. This is called "surplus killing" and seems inconsistent with the wolves' habit of killing because they are hungry. Surplus killing seems to occur when prey are vulnerable and easy to catch - in winter, for instance, when there is deep snow. Since wolves are programmed to kill when possible, they may simply be taking advantage of unusual situations when wild prey are relatively easy to catch. They may return later to feed on an unconsumed carcass, or they may leave it to a host of scavengers. Additionally, they may cache food and dig it up at a later time.

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

What is the hunting technique of a wolf?

The wolf has a very distinct hunting strategy, described in detail in Chapter VII of David Mech's book, The Wolf (1970). Wolves hunt in packs (their basic social organization) so that they can catch and kill much larger prey. This is usually easier said than done, and so with the wolf, food is either "feast or famine" (Rutter & Pimlott, 1968). The wolf's hunting technique is divided up into very distinct stages:

1) LOCATING - This stage is often the most difficult. Wolves have been known to follow migrating herds of ungulates in order to keep touch with their food source (Rutter & Pimlott, 1968; Herman & Willard, 1978), others simply move about their home range looking for potential prey. The wolf finds prey either by using direct scenting, chance encounter, or tracking. Scenting is the most common way of detecting prey, as wolves (like most canines) have a very good sense of smell. It has been documented that wolves can smell prey as far as 1.5 miles away, but a more common estimate is from 300-500 yards.
2) STALKING - Direct scenting and tracking allow wolves to follow prey for long distances without being seen. In stalking, the wolf sneaks as close to the prey as possible without being detected and making it run away. Wolves can usually get very close because they move upwind.
3) ENCOUNTER - In this stage, the wolf confronts its prey. The prey animal can respond by either, approaching the wolves, standing its ground, or fleeing. Because of their large size, moose will typically stand their ground and are very effective in this defense. When wolves see that their prey is not running away, they stop their approach and wait for it to run because wolves have a unique way of killing their prey. Some wolf packs will surround their prey and lunge at it, trying to entice it to run (Rutter & Pimlott, 1968).
4) RUSH - This occurs when the prey flees from the wolves. During this stage, the wolves must move quickly and get close to their prey to give themselves to catch it.
5) CHASE - This is an extension of the rush, where the wolf either gets within striking distance and may attack, or falls behind and will give up the chase altogether. Wolves will sometime chase their prey for miles, but more commonly, chases are short sprints.

When caught, it was typically thought that wolves kill their prey by using a technique called "hamstringing." Many anecdotal reports say that wolves will cut the large Achilles' tendon that connects the hamstring muscles to the bone in their prey, thus making the animal unable to run. A rather interesting way to kill prey, but more recent studies have not shown wolves to use this technique, so hamstringing is a current issue of debate. Rutter and Pimlott (1968) point out that wolves typically attack from the rear, tearing at hindquarters and legs of their prey. These wounds lead to loss of blood and shock, at which time, some will spring onto a prey's rump and begin to eat it.

Another very interesting aspect of hunting in the wolf is the use of strategy to catch and kill their prey. Rutter and Pimlott (1968) document one encounter where a pack of wolves located a deer on the edge of its group and all began chasing it. Knowing that deer tend to run in circular patterns when trying to escape, the subordinate wolves backed off the deer while the dominant male continued to chase it... directly to the waiting members of the pack. This is just one example of hunting strategy in wolves give them a better chance of being successful in their hunt. Even with these strategies, it is estimated that wolves still only catch from 7 to 10% of the potential prey they test.

How much do wolves eat?

Getting enough to eat is a full-time job for a wolf. When wolves catch and kill a large mammal, they will gorge and then rest while the food is being rapidly digested. They will generally consume all but the hide, some of the large bones and skull and the rumen (stomach contents of ungulates) of their prey. Gray wolves can survive on about 2 1/2 pounds of food per wolf per day, but they require about 7 pounds per wolf per day to reproduce successfully. The most a large gray wolf can eat at one time is about 22.5 pounds. Adult wolves can survive for days and even weeks without food if they have to. Growing pups, however, require regular nourishment in order to be strong enough to travel and hunt with the adults by the autumn of their first year. Wolves often rely on food they have cached after a successful hunt in order to see them through lean times.

Red wolves may eat 2 to 5 pounds of food per day when prey is abundant. Because they are smaller than gray wolves, they can consume less at one time than their larger cousins. But like all wolves, eating for red wolves is a matter of "feast" followed by "famine".

What is the lifespan of a wolf?

It is misleading to say that wolves in the wild live an average of a certain number of years. There are so many variables. Some wolves die soon after they are born, and others are killed or die in early or middle adulthood. Members of the dog family like wolves and domestic dogs can live to be 15 or 16 years old - sometimes even older. Dogs and wolves in captivity have a better shot at making it to a ripe old age because they usually receive routine veterinary care and regular meals. However, wild wolves have a tough life filled with pitfalls. Many pups don't make it through the first winter of their lives. Those that survive the first two years have a pretty good chance of living another two to four years if they can avoid fatal injury and if they can get enough to eat. Some wild wolves do live to be 9 or 10, and there are verified records of a few living into their early teens.

What is a wolf pack?

A wolf pack is a cohesive family unit consisting of the adult parents and their offspring of the current year, and perhaps the previous year and sometimes two years or more. Wolf parents used to be incorrectly referred to as the "alpha male" and "alpha female", or the "alpha pair", but these terms have been replaced by the more appropriate "breeding male", "breeding female", and "breeding pair”, or simply "parents". The adult parents are usually unrelated, and other unrelated wolves may sometimes join the pack. The acceptance of other wolves into the pack is uncommon, but possible. See also: Wolf Pack Hierarchy for brief explanation and background, Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs for a more detailed and in-depth analysis, and "Alpha" Wolf? for video commentary by Dr. L. David Mech.

Do wolves accept rogue/lone/stranger wolves into their pack?
Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation by David Mech and Luigi Boitani wrote:Strange wolves sometimes temporarily join packs already containing a breeding pair. We will refer to these animals as 'adoptees' to distinguish them from wolves that enter a pack to replace a lost breeder. Most adoptees are males, and most 'adoptions' take place from February to May.

One of the main mysteries of this behavior is why strange wolves are sometimes allowed to join packs, whereas in so many other cases they are chased, attacked, or killed.

Outsiders are more likely to be accepted into a family by a widowed breeder seeking a new mate.
How many pups wolves can have?

An average litter size for gray and red wolves is 4 to 6, but sometimes fewer pups are born and sometimes more.

How do wolves choose their mate?

The breeding pair in Canis lupus are in a lifelong monogamous relationship, meaning they are pair bonded for life. An unrelated adult wolf will sometimes be adopted into a pack and take over mating duties if one of the breeding pair dies. If this occurs, mating can also occur between the newly accepted step-parent and offspring of the replaced individual (Mech, 1999). It is considered facultative monogamy because the female is capable of raising the pups on her own if she had to, but the male makes it easier for her by bringing food, defending the den, and letting the female conserve her energy for milk production. Also, the food source is not really defensible, and so the female does not rely on the male to secure food for her, or any other precious resource for that matter.

The urge to mate does not begin in wolves until they are about 22 months old, and this urge accompanies the leaving of the young from the pack. This is one proposed mechanism to prevent inbreeding (Mech, 1999; Smith et al., 1997). Affectionate behavior begins before the female comes into heat. The male and female will rub heads, bunt snouts, and snuffle each other throughout the year.

How big is a 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). Red wolves have smaller feet than gray wolves.

All wolves have feet superbly adapted to long-distance travel over different types of terrain and through (and over!) snow. The wolf's blocky feet and long, flexible toes conform to uneven terrain, thus allowing the animal to maintain speed when necessary as well as a tireless, ground-eating trot when traveling.

How strong are 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.

In what habitats do wolves live in?

The wolf habitat includes almost all Northern Hemisphere habitat types including artic tundra, plains, savannahs, hardwood, softwood, and mixed forest environments. Before the species became endangered, wolves occupied extensive ranges throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Japan. Because of the increasing human presence throughout most of the hemisphere, the largest concentration of wolves today is found in the northern area of North America, including many Canadian provinces and Alaska. In some areas, wolf density is as high as one wolf per 25 square miles. Because of this, the typical wolf habitat in North America today is the frozen tundra. Wolves are also found in Europe, Scandinavia, and throughout the mountainous regions in Italy, Spain and Poland (Mech, 1970).

What are the natural "enemies" of a wolf?

Wolves have no critical natural "enemies" although some other predators (bears, coyotes, lynxes, foxes, wolverines, eagles, and other wolves) are prone to kill off their young ones (e.g. bears have been documented to dig up wolf dens).

Aggressive encounters between wolves and tigers have been documented in the Russian Far East, as well as conflicts between wolves and wolverines in Scandinavia. Wolves sometimes encounter dholes (Asian wild dogs) in Asia, but little is known of these encounters.

Wolves rarely encounter other predatory animals and when they do, the confrontations are often short, and over very quickly without any serious fatalities inflicted (excluding encounters with tigers, which tend to be deadly).

How many species of wolf are there?

There are three universally recognized species of wolf: the gray wolf (Canis lupus), the * red wolf (Canis rufus) and the ** Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis).

* It is important to note that red wolf is high in coyote ancestry (roughly 75%) and is a coyote-wolf hybrid, with whatever "distinction" it had once as a "unique" wolf essentially diluted and gone. See: A genome-wide perspective on the evolutionary history of enigmatic wolf-like canids
** In regards to the Ethiopian wolf, see Figure 1 of the above study and Figure 10 of Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog; you will notice that, in comparison, the coyote and golden jackal are more closely related to the gray wolf than the Ethiopian wolf itself. In turn, this begs the question of whether or not we should consider coyotes and jackals as "wolves," too, or if we should only consider "wolves" as Canis lupus and its subspecies. See also Wolf-like canid phylogeny by La Striata which illustrates and proposes the argument.

The African wolf was considered a subspecies of the golden jackal (Canis aureus); however, studies in 2011 believed that it may be more accurately classified as a subspecies of the gray wolf under Canis lupus lupaster. (African grey wolf compendium is a useful compilation of recent studies shared right here on the forums.) Recently, a 2015 study declared that it was a separate species entirely (Canis anthus), though closely related to wolves (but not as closely related as coyotes). ... 2215007873

Currently, there are a total of 12 officially classified subspecies of the gray wolf.
Five (5) North American ones and seven (7) Eurasian ones.

Subspecies: North America
  • Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos)
    Eastern Timber Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon)
    Great Plains Wolf (Canis lupus nubilus)
    Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
    Northwestern Gray Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis)
* Some scientists depict the Eastern Timber Wolf as a separate species of wolf, Canis lycaon. It is also confirmed to be a wolf-coyote hybrid. See: A genome-wide perspective on the evolutionary history of enigmatic wolf-like canids

Subspecies: Eurasia
  • Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus lupus)
    Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus)
    Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs)
    Steppe Wolf (Canis lupus campestris)
    Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)
    Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus)
    Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus albus)
* Some scientists depict the Indian Wolf as a separate species of wolf, Canis indica.

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) and some species of wild dog, such as the Australian dingo (Canis lupus dingo) and the New Guinea Singing Dog, are also considered as subspecies of the gray wolf.

What are the eye colors of a wolf?

Wolves are born with limpid blue eyes. The color reduces/fades and becomes lighter as the wolves mature and eventually the color of the eyes changes into any shade of amber, yellow, ocher, gold, or brown. Wolves can also have bluish or greenish tints in their eyes, but very rarely an adult wolf has blue or green eyes. Fully-grown wolves with blue or green eyes are not unheard of, but the condition of the eyes is caused by a rare genetic defect, or "glitch", and therefore blue or green-eyed wolves are extremely uncommon.

Pure-blooded wild wolves have not been documented being bi-eyed (heterochromic; having two differently colored eyes). Heterochromia is a common trait in Northern dog breeds and low and midrange wolfdogs, but not in wolves or high-content wolfdogs.

What are the coat colors of a wolf?

All wolves, including the Arctic wolves, which are known for their white coats, are born with a dark fur. The color will change and become more prominent as the wolves grow up. The color of a wolf's coat is often a multicolored mixture of earthly colors such as brown, tan, white, gray and black (in all of their shades and tones), and the coat pattern is cryptic and unbroken. The black color in North American wolves is caused by a recessive gene called melanin (hence the name; ”melanistic wolves”), and it was most likely introduced to the existing wolf population as a result of hybridization with domestic dogs brought from the Old World (Europe).

How far does a wolf leap?

Wolves can bound and leap as far as 16 feet.

How big is the territory of a wolf pack?

In most regions where wolves live, each wolf pack has its own territory, an area in which it lives, hunts and raises its offspring and which it actively defends against other canids (dog-like animals), including other wolves. Exceptions are nomadic wolves whose prey is migratory such as the tundra wolves that follow the caribou herds on their annual treks over huge distances. Territory size is highly variable and depends on a number of factors such as prey abundance, the nature of the terrain, climate and the presence of other predators including other wolf packs. Gray wolf territories in the lower 48 states may be less than 100 square miles while territories in Alaska and Canada can range from about 300 to 1,000 square miles or more.

Red wolf territories in northeastern North Carolina vary in size, but most are estimated to range between 38 to 87 square miles.

What is the shape of a wolf territory?
Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation by David Mech and Luigi Boitani wrote:Theoretically, if territory holders are competing maximally with neighbors, territorial mosaics should resemble the hexagonal cells of honeybee hives. This spacing allows the maximum number of territories with the least space among them. The earliest published wolf territorial mosaic fits this model, as do most later reports including sufficient numbers of territories.

Territory shape will never be accurately determined, however, due to the current radio collar method.

. . . Shapes of territories are a wide variety of shapes... but never circles or ovals. In addition, there are no shapes that I recognize... just a bunch of lines making a shape.
Do wolf territories border each other?

Wolf territories frequently border each other and several packs may have overlapping territories.

How to distinguish a wolf from a dog?

Compared to equally sized wolves, dogs tend to have 20% smaller skulls, 30% smaller brains, as well as proportionately smaller teeth than other canid species. Dogs require fewer calories to function than wolves. Their diet of human refuse in antiquity made the large brains and jaw muscles needed for hunting unnecessary. It is thought by certain experts that the dog's limp ears are a result of atrophy of the jaw muscles. The skin of domestic dogs tends to be thicker than that of wolves, with some Inuit tribes favoring the former for use as clothing due to its greater resistance to wear and tear in harsh weather. The paws of a dog are half the size of those of a wolf, and their tails tend to curl upwards, another trait not found in wolves.


Dogs tend to be poorer than wolves at observational learning, being more responsive to instrumental conditioning. Feral dogs show little of the complex social structure or dominance hierarchy present in wolf packs. For dogs, other members of their kind are of no help in locating food items, and are more like competitors. Feral dogs are primarily scavengers, with studies showing that unlike their wild cousins, they are poor ungulate hunters, having little impact on wildlife populations where they are sympatric. However, feral dogs have been reported to be effective hunters of reptiles in the Galapagos Islands, and free-ranging pet dogs are more prone to predatory behavior toward wild animals.

Despite common belief, domestic dogs can be monogamous. Breeding in feral packs can be, but does not have to be restricted to a dominant pair (despite common belief, such things also occur in wolf packs). Male dogs are unusual among canids by the fact that they mostly seem to play no role in raising their puppies, and do not kill the young of other females to increase their own reproductive success. Some sources say that dogs differ from wolves and most other large canid species by the fact that they do not regurgitate food for their young, nor the young of other dogs in the same territory. However, this difference was not observed in all domestic dogs. Regurgitating of food by the females for the young as well as care for the young by the males has been observed in domestic dogs, dingos as well as in other feral or semi-feral dogs. Regurgitating of food by the females and direct choosing of only one mate has been observed even in those semi-feral dogs of direct domestic dog ancestry. Also regurgitating of food by males has been observed in free-ranging domestic dogs.


Dogs display much greater tractability than "tame" wolves, and are generally much more responsive to coercive techniques involving fear, aversive stimuli, and force than wolves, which are most responsive toward positive conditioning and rewards. Unlike tame wolves, dogs tend to respond more to voice than hand signals. Although they are less difficult to control than wolves, they can be comparatively more difficult to teach than a motivated wolf.

Is it possible to tame a wolf?

The term "tame" is ambiguous and applies to wolves rather loosely.

It is possible to socialize, train and habituate a wolf, but only under appropriate circumstances, and only by professional and knowledgeable individuals. Wolves lack the tractability of domestic canines and despite habituation and training they still remain HIGHLY unpredictable and precarious. Wolves do not make suitable pets. Successful wolf ownership requires extensive knowledge about wolves, exceptional dedication and financial resources, and even when all these requirements are adequately met, wolves still make high-risk animals to maintain.

It is unrecommended to obtain a wolf without proper training, education and knowledge.

Why do wolves howl?

Wolves howl to mark their territory and to communicate with one another. They locate members of their own pack by howling, and they often engage in a group howl before setting off to hunt. The howl is a clear warning to neighboring wolves to stay away, or stay linked with pack members when the wolves are separated.

How far can a wolf howl be heard?
Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation by David Mech and Luigi Boitani wrote:In forested areas, wolves can hear howling at distances of 11 km (6.6 miles) and on open tundra up to 16 km (9.6 miles)
What is the body language of wolves and how they express it?

To communicate dominance, breeding parents 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 pack mate by its urine, which is useful when entering a new territory or when pack members 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 "pheromones." Sources of pheromones in wolves include glands on the toes, tail, eyes, candle, genitalia and skin. For example, a male is able to identify a female in estrus by compounds (pheromones) 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.

Wolves howl 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.

Wolves use three different languages:

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

How far can a wolf hear, see and smell?

The surface area receptive to smell in the wolf nose is 100 times that of a human nose, and approximately 14 times that of a dog's, although the degree of sensitivity to smell is not directly correlative to surface area.
The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of An Endangered Species by L. David Mech wrote:"Researchers estimate that this ability is up to one hundred times more sensitive than that of man."
L. David Mech wrote:"Wolves can hear as far as six miles away in the forest and ten miles away on the open tundra."
L. David Mech wrote:"They [wolves] can see details clearly up to a distance of about 75 feet."
What is a wolfdog?

A wolfdog hybrid is the result of a crossbreeding (whether intended or unintended) between a domestic dog and a wolf. Wolfdogs are divided into three separate "subgroups":

I. Low-content wolfdogs
II. Mid-content wolfdogs
III. High-content wolfdogs

How good is the eye sight of a wolf? How is their vision range? Are wolves colorblind?

A wolf's eye sight is just about as good as that of a human being. However, some experts believe that wolves may be nearsighted because their eyes lack a foveal pit, an indentation in the retina which provides for focusing, especially on distant objects. Wolves have excellent peripheral vision and their eyes are optimized to detect motion. In addition, they have a very high ratio of rods (grayscale receptors) to cones (color receptors) in the retina; in fact, about 95% rods. This abundance of rods aids the wolf in the ability to see at night. A wolf's night vision is far superior to that of a human being.

Although little research has been done into a wolf's ability to see color, it is believed that they may be partially colorblind. Wolves have only red and blue photo receptors in their eyes, unlike humans, who have red, green, and blue photo receptors. Tests on domestic canines show that they may not be able to distinguish yellow from green or orange from red. Tests on wolves, where red, blue, yellow, and green dyes were put onto clean snow, show that they often detect the red and yellow stains. This could be because they associate these colors with blood and urine and have little interest in the other colors. There is no conclusive evidence regarding the color vision abilities of wolves, however. Some scientist agree that wolves can see all of the colors, but only take an interest in those that might benefit them in some way.

Canines have a third eyelid (nictitans) which stretches across the eye and contains a gland which, along with glands in the ciliary body, acts to lubricate the eye. However, these tear glands excrete an oily substance rather than watery tears: canines are not able to shed the moist tears of sorrow as humans do.

Are wolves dangerous to people?

Generally, healthy wild wolves do not pose danger or threat to humans, as they are timid and reclusive by nature, and typically avoid people and human settlements. BUT! There are several well-documented accounts of healthy wild wolves attacking people in North America, and although there were no witnesses, a 2007 inquest determined that a young man killed in northern Saskatchewan in 2005 died as a result of a wolf attack, and an Alaskan woman died in March 2010 also due to a wolf attack. Accounts of wolves killing people persist in India and in Russia and parts of central Asia. It is a fact that when wild animals become habituated to people, they may lose their fear of humans, especially if they are fed or if they associate humans with providing food. Like any large predator, wolves are perfectly capable of killing people. No one should ever encourage a wolf or any other wild animal to approach, and hikers and campers should take all necessary precautions to prevent mishaps involving wildlife.

What are the reasons behind wolf attacks?

A provoked animal can always be a threat to humans. A healthy wild wolf is a rare sight and wolves being naturally preserved and elusive animals, they tend to take off before any actual interactions with humans take place. Wolves that have been fed or otherwise habituated to human presence lose their instinctual fear and avoidance for humans and in this state they are capable of harming a human. Diseased or injured wolves can also attack if they feel threatened.
Unprovoked/unmotivated attacks by (habituated) wolves have also been documented.

Wolves have been recorded attacking and in some cases even eating humans, most of these encounters taking place is various parts of Europe and Asia. Wolves do not typically prey upon humans, but consumption of human flesh by wolves is not unheard of.

Are wolves able to climb trees?

With the proper leverage, speed and strength, a wolf is capable of climbing up the trunk of a tree. However, canids have short and blunt claws which are not designed to grip upward surfaces, and they also lack proper agility and equilibrium. Some wolves have been documented chasing their prey into trees - such as squirrels and birds - but climbing consumes a lot of excess energy and effort, and wolves generally lack a sufficient technique to perform a 100% functioning climbing action.

What is the global wolf population?
Around the world there are an estimated 200,000 wolves in 57 countries, compared to up to 2 million in earlier times.
What do 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. Diseases such as mange, canine parvovirus and distemper can be killers both in small and recovering populations and in some established populations as well. Evidence suggests, however, that large wolf populations build up a resistance to canine parvovirus. Lyme disease also infects wolves, and heartworm can reduce a wolf's endurance by restricting blood flow to the lungs. Injuries caused by prey result in some deaths. The large mammals that wolves hunt and kill can inflict mortal injuries with antlers and hooves. Human-caused mortality including legal (hunting and trapping in some locales) and illegal (poaching) activities can be high in some populations. Wolves are sometimes hit by cars in areas where road density is high. Pup mortality rates are highly variable, but approximately 40 to 60% of wolf pups die each year.

Can/do wolves disperse in groups?

Most wolves disperse alone, but there are exceptions to the rule. Some wolves disperse in groups (such as in duos), but they eventually split up.

How far will a dispersal go?

It has been recorded up to 886 kilometers (521 miles). The younger the disperser, the farther it goes. A dispersal wolf will continue to travel until it has "settled", that is, until it finds the right conditions in an area.

Can/do wolves associate themselves with multiple packs?

It is not exactly common, but not much is known about this behavior.

In a population in northwestern Montana, "two individuals (both genders) traveled freely between two packs and were observed caring for pups in two packs during one denning season" (Boyd et al. 1995, 139).

What is the fate of a "fractured pack"?

A fractured pack's, or pack's whose key members have died, fate depends on just which members have died. Because the heart of a pack is the breeding pair (dominant pair), the death of all offspring would just result in the pair breeding again next year. If one member of the breeding pair dies, the other surviving breeding member may hold the territory until a new mate arrives. If the breeding pair is lost, the remaining members may disperse and become part of the "floating" population, unless they are pups which would die from starvation or from predators.

What countries are wolves found in, and approximately how many are there?

Note: The information depicted below is not necessarily fully reliable or accurate; it is more like an incomplete, indirect/unofficial estimation of wolf populations in each country.

Bold = Largest wolf populations


Greenland: 50-100
Portugal: 220-435*
Spain: 2,000-2,500*
Italy: 500-800
France: 300*
Germany: 150*
Switzerland: 23*
Norway: 27-32*
Sweden: 300*
Denmark: --
Finland: 97-106*
Poland: 700-800
Estonia: 200-260
Lithuania: 300-400
Latvia: 600
Belarus: 1,500-2,000
Ukraine: 2,000
Czech Republic: 20
Slovakia: 350-400
Slovenia: 32-43*
Croatia: 168-219*
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 650*
Serbia: 750-850*
Montenegro: 200-300*
Hungary: 250*
Romania: 2,500-3,000
Bulgaria: 800-1,000
Greece: 700*
Macedonia: 267*
Albania: 250
Turkey: 7,000
Russia: 25,000-30,000


Syria: 200
Lebanon: 50
Israel: 150
Jordan: 200
Saudi Arabia: 300-600
India: 1,000
China: 12,500*
Mongolia: 10,000-20,000
Kazakhstan: 30,000
Turkmenistan: 1,000
Uzbekistan: 2,000
Kirgizstan: 4,000
Tajikistan: 3,000
Iraq: --
Iran: --
Afghanistan: --
Nepal: --
Bhutan: --


Canada: 52,000-60,000
United States: 9,000

When do wolf pups' eyes start to change color?

The limpid blue color of wolf pups' eyes will gradually fade into the adult eye color (gold, brown, ocher, orange, yellow) over the next 6 to 10 weeks.

When do wolf pup's furs start to change color?

The dark, black-brown color of wolf pups' pelages will begin to shift color between 8 to 9 months of age, or slightly earlier.

What is the ancestor of the wolf?

The most likely ancestral candidate of the gray wolf is Canis lepophagus, a small, narrow-skulled North American canid of the Miocene era, which may have also given rise to coyotes. Some larger, broader-skulled C. lepophagus fossils found in northern Texas may represent the ancestral stock from which true wolves derive.

The first true wolves began to appear at the end of the Blancan North American Stage and the onset of the early Irvingtonian.

Other prehistoric canids thought to be the ancestors of the modern wolves also include the Canis donnezani, one of wolves' forefathers, and Canis edwardii, the first canid to be classified as a "true wolf".

Do wolves in a wolf pack take turns, or share, the nursing duties?

No, as long as only one wolf is pregnant.
Despite much speculation, there is no published evidence that pseudopregant [metestrous females that are not pregnant] female wolves have nursed pups. Although milk can be expressed from the nipples of some pseudopregnant females during metestus, the secretion is nonfunctional. Reported cases of cooperative nursing in wolves have all involved females that were both pregnant.
How long does a pack have to rest after a hunt?

Typically 12 hours or more before they go off on another hunt/long trek.

What parts of the carcass are eaten first?

Generally, liver, heart, and intestines are consumed first, followed by the flesh, bones, and hide.

** If you are interested in additional answers brought to you by WolfQuest's guest wolf experts, please visit this thread for a compilation of all of their questions and answers. **

If you know a wolf question that is popular and asked a lot but is not included in the list, please donate the answer so it can be added to help the users of WQ and the Community.
Please follow the policy exhibited on the Q&A list:
The title of your question

The answer

The source

Most of the information is confirmed and provided by the International Wolf Center (
Additional sources can be found included on each individual donor's post.

Additional Resources & Further Reading:
Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Fact Sheet, 2014
Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation
Last edited by Koa on Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:48 pm, edited 43 times in total.
Reason: added link to guest wolf expert q&a compilation, included additional resources, cleaned up old information, clarified information


Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Post by Guest » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:47 pm

Originally posted by, Sintact --
Sintact wrote:I went through all the Wolf Q&A sub-forum and made up a list of common questions that had already been answered. Most of the questions I posted here are those that do have an answer, most of the other topics I didn’t post are debates that still ask for discussion, or the answers are posted at Blightwolf’s FAQ. Hopefully by having all the questions and best answers in one place, people will be encouraged to read them and learn more about wolves.

I know that many users are too lazy to use the search engine, so here I bring the solution!

Note: if you see any other topic about Q&A that has an answer, it is not posted here or at Blightwolf’s guide, please let me know here and I will add it to the list.

Blightwolf’s FAQ:
  • What is the average weight, height and length of a wolf?
    How many teeth wolves have?
    How many scent glands wolves have and where are they located?
    When do wolves breed, how long is their gestation period, when are their young ones born and how much do they weigh?
    How fast can wolves run?
    How far can wolves travel?
    What do wolves eat?
    What is the hunting technique of a wolf?
    How much do wolves eat?
    What is the lifespan of a wolf?
    What is a wolf pack?
    Do wolves accept rogue/lone/stranger wolves into their pack?
    How many pups wolves can have?
    How do wolves choose their mate?
    How big is a wolf's track?
    How strong are wolves' jaws?
    In what habitats does wolves live in?
    What are the natural "enemies" of a wolf?
    How many species of wolf are there?
    What are the eye colors of a wolf?
    What are the coat colors of a wolf?
    How far does a wolf leap?
    How big is the territory of a wolf pack?
    What is the shape of a wolf territory?
    Do wolf territories border each other?
    How to distinguish a wolf from a dog?
    Is it possible to tame a wolf?
    How far can a wolf howl be heard?
    What is the body language of wolves and how they express it?
    How far can a wolf hear, see and smell?
    What is a wolfdog?
    How good is the eye sight of a wolf? How is their vision range? Are wolves colorblind?
    Are wolves dangerous to people?
    What are the reasons behind wolf attacks?
    Are wolves able to climb trees?
    What is the global wolf population?
    Can/do wolves disperse in groups?
    How far will a dispersal go?
    Can/do wolves associate themselves with multiple packs?
    What is the fate of a "fractured pack"?
    What countries are wolves found in, and approximately how many are there?
    When do wolf pups' eyes start to change color?
    When do wolf pup's furs start to change color?
    What is the ancestor of the wolf?
    Do wolves in a wolf pack take turns, or share, the nursing duties?
    How long does a pack have to rest after a hunt?
    What parts of the carcass are eaten first?
Will wolves ever kill and/or eat their pups?

Best Answer (WQ Project Coordinator):
After talking with Jackie, the wolf keeper at the Minnesota Zoo, I have a partial answer for you. She told me that wolves sometimes do kill and/or eat pups. If a pup dies, the mother might bring it out of the den to keep the den clean and it probably will be consumed by some animal, potentially a wolf. If a mother cannot defend her den against other animals, the pups may be killed and consumed. This includes wolves from other territories. Something to remember is that while a mother wolf has bonded with her pups, it is unlikely that she would die protecting them. She would abandon them after putting up a fight if her life was definitely in danger. This may sound cruel but many pups wouldn't survive without their mother so what would be the purpose of her dying. Pup survival is not easy. We don't know what the wolves are thinking, but there is always the next breeding season.

Here at the Minnesota Zoo a couple of years ago the Mexican Gray wolves had 8 pups. One by one, six of the pups died and the mother removed them from the den. The keepers never found a trace of the pups or digging to indicate that they had been cached (buried for a later time). They don't know exactly what happened to the deceased pups, but being consumed is an option.

Wolves can be very difficult to study due to their secretive nature. There are some things scientists just don't have solid answers for.

Do wolves mother move their den and pups if there’s danger?

Best Answer (pawnee):
Yes they do. Wolves can have mutliple densites in case the mother should move the pups. Many books by david mech, john theberge, and other wolf researchers have documented this.

What diseases can wolves die from?

Best Answer (pawnee):
I would say any disease a dog can get. so parvovirus, rabies, distemper, mange, not to mention all the parasites that dogs can get from eating dead things.

Side note: (Songdog:) Don't forget infections from wounds/broken bones, cancer, stomach viruses, etc. Then of course a whole slue of intestinal parasite.

If a wolf's jaw gets broken or becomes infected, it is more or less a death sentence.

(CLBaileyi:)As others have already said, any disease that affects the domestic dog will affect wolves.

Going off of the limited information given, it is too broad to diagnosis the problem. A probable diagnosis could be done by doing a necropsy, if the deaths happened fairly recently and the animals are not too decomposed-virus and chemicals stay in the body for long periods of time-in many tissues.

Another thing-it is NOT uncommon for some people to poison animals that are behind fences, so there is always that as a possibility. Many chemicals can be disguised and easily eaten by an animal.

Do wolves bark?

Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
Actually wolves may bark for a variety of reasons. However, the most common bark is often called the "alarm bark" by some, and is usually given when they are feeling defensive or protective-at a den site when a predator may arrive (such as a zookeeper entering the enclosure when pups are present, when a new person or strange animal is in the area, etc).

Do wolves sweat through their paws? Or their tongue?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Wolves get rid of excess heat through panting and sweating. People and wolves pant with their tongue...but wolves sweat (like dogs) through their paws. Wolves don`t sweat through their tongue, but their still trying to get cool. Diffrent means, same motive.

Can Wolves get Cancer?
Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
Wolves get pretty much the same diseases that dogs get. The one thing to say is that wolves are more resiliant to many injuries (bite wounds, fractures, etc) and often can survive without any assistance from humans-especially when in the wild. Also, we will vaccinate them in captivity with the same vaccines that we use on our own dogs.

Do wolves hunt different animals according to the season?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Wolves hunt large animals in winter, when prey is weakest and hunt animals such as moose, elk, deer, bison.

In the spring, wolves can eatthe young of their prey as well as the animals that are awakening from hibernation.

In summer wolves can also hunt beaver, and to some degree eat some berries and grasses.

Wolves are oppertunistic, so if they see an chance for a meal they`ll take it but they also have to be wise in how they spend their energy. It also depends on the location of the wolf pack, as wolves in certain parts of yellowstone will consume more elk than in other parts.

Wolf Fur Patterns Portraying Rank?

Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
There is no relationship between the color of a wolf's coat and their "rank" in the pack (also, see other threads re: rank in wild wolves). There is no biological basis for this theory.

Why people think wolves howl at the moon?
Best Answer (pawnee):

Wolves and coyotes just get excited when they howl and throw back their heads, and because wolves are usually active at night it looks like their howling at the moon or stars. Wolves also howl sitting and lying down too. People also thought that solar eclipses meant that supernatraul wolves were chasing the sun away, this was more popular belief in northern european mythology, like in norway or russia...

Wolfs hearing and smelling

Best Answer (king1-7): ... 0&lpg=PA70 wrote:
Wolves have an amazing sense of smell. They can track a moose by scent up to a mile away. Scientists estimate that a wolf's sense of smell is 100 times better than a human's sense of smell. In some ways, wolves actually "see" the world through their noses.

They also have acute hearing. Scientists estimate that a wolf can hear another wolf howl up to six miles away on the open tundra and up to 4 miles away in a forest.

What do wolves have to go through to get territory?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Depends, wolves are oppertunitstic. If they find a mate before they establish a turf of their own, then they`ll look for one or defend on together. But a lone wolf/dispersal might live on the fringes of a pack territory and if a wolf of the oppsoite gender also wants to disperse, they could set move out together.

really depends on the individual, some might stick around and wait to breed while others will go in search. The area must generally be free of other wolves, or not so close to rival packs.

How many times a wolf can breed a year?
Best Answer (king1-7):
Female wolves only go into estrus once a year, so at maximum, a pair of wolves would be able to breed yearly, sometime from February to March. However, whether or not wolves decide to breed depends on the current environmental conditions. If food is scarce, the breeding pair may not mate during that year because there wouldn't be enough food to support a bigger pack. Likewise, if there's an abundance of food, the pack may produce more than one litter.

Shedding in wolves?
Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
Anyway, wolves shed more in the spring, or when they move from colder climates to warmer ones (as what may happen with captive animals moving from one facility to another). They do not appear to all go through the shedding cycle at the same time (some shed out earlier than others) and some shed out in certain sequences (head, ruff around the head, body, hips, shoulders, tail). In Minnesota, some of the wolves at the zoo began to shed in late March and continued into late June. Others were still shedding in July.

The thing to remember, is that, it is generally the thick undercoat that is lost when people way "they shed". The guard hairs generally are not lost in large enough sections to be noticed by people, but they are lost as well throughout the year.

At what approximate age do wolves lose their puppy fuz?
Best Answer (king1-7):
he pups’ eyes and ears open at around two weeks. They grow very fast and by three weeks they can crawl; by four they can walk. Pups as young as two weeks old have been known to howl! By six weeks they are exploring the area around the den; by eight weeks they are tasting pre-chewed meat regurgitated for them by adult pack members. They will be moved out of the den and stay at "rendezvous sites" out in the open, perhaps babysat by a low-ranking adult wolf, while they wait for the hunting adults to return. The layer of guard hairs which will give their coats their adult color begins to grow in around this time. By nine months old, the pups are eating meat, hunting small prey, and are almost as big as the adults, but they will not be completely adult until they are two years old.

Side Note: (CLBaileyi):
King 1-7 had it right in the reply re: when pups lose their "puppy fuzz" - basically by 6-8 months of age, it can be nearly impossible to tell them apart by their "look" based on coat and not physical size.

Do wolves frequently kill each others?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Wolves try and avoid fighting...most animals do. Fighting can cause injury and loss of energy that could be better used in the hunt. Most animals try and avoid getting hurt by using behaviours to avoid fights. Usually animals fight to a point where one opponent submits or runs away, I would say its infrequent for pack memembers to kill other pack memebers. But rival wolf packs will and do kill lone wolves that tresspass into a territory.

Are Wolves And Coyotes Related?
Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
Wolves and coyotes are both members of the Canine family, but they are not like wolves and dogs in the concept of (closely related). There are some good articles about canine evolution in the Canid specialist group's website: I suggest that you take a look at it to show you how all of them are related to one another.

As far as the hybridization issue re: red wolves, coyotes and wolves, also check out the International Wolf Center's website-or the wolf specialist's website (IUCN Wolf Specialist Group) should get you there.

How many pups in a litter?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Usually 4-7 for a grey wolf but depending on the location wolf pups can expirence a 30-over 50% mortality rate in their first year of life. rarely do female wolves give birth to over seven (healthy) pups.

When do pups stop drinking milk?
Best Answer (Songdog):
They begin to eat regurgitated meat at 2 weeks, but are not fully weened off milk until about five weeks.

For complete developmental process of pups, visit this link: ... ?newsid=15
Neonatal Period
(from birth to 12 - 14 days, when eyes open) Birth: Born approximately one pound, blind, deaf, darkly furred, small ears, rounded heads, and little if any sense of smell. They are unable to control own body temperature. Their motor capacities are limited to a slow crawl and to sucking and licking. They possess a good sense of balance, taste and touch. Nursing pups feed four or five times a day for periods of three to five minutes. On average, females will gain 2.6 lbs. and males 3.3 lbs. per week for the next fourteen weeks. This time is known as the "period of maximal growth."

Transition Period
(eye opening until about 20 - 24 days) 2 weeks: Eyes open and are blue at 11-15 days, but vision is poor. They can start eating small pieces of meat regurgitated by adults. Pups begin to stand, walk, growl and chew.

Socialization Period
(20 - 24 days until about 77 days) 3 weeks: Begin appearing outside the den and romping and playing near the entrance; hearing begins (~27 days, ears begin to raise; ~31 days, ears erect but with tips still flopping); canines and premolar teeth present. 4 weeks: Weigh 5-6 lbs.; grow adult hair around nose and eyes; bodies begin to take on conformation of adults with disproportionately large feet and head; high-pitched howls are gaining strength; mother may go off for hours on end to hunt; dominance and play fighting begin. 5 weeks:Gradual process of weaning begins. Can follow adults up to one mile from den. 8 weeks: Disproportionately large feet and head. 8-10 weeks: Adults abandon den and move pups to rendezvous site; weaning complete, pups can feed on food provided by adults; adult hair becomes apparent on body. 8-16 weeks: Eyes gradually change from blue to yellow-gold.

Can wolves suffer from a condition known as heterochromia?
Best Answer (Songdog):
"Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin (a pigment). It may be inherited, due to genetic mosaicism, or due to disease or injury"

Technically, it's possible. But it wouldn't be one blue eye and one yellow eye. They would have two yellow eyes, but of different pigment. This occurs in humans as well.

As said, blue eyes are a dog trait, not a wolf trait. Only pups have blue eyes, with rare cases of it occurring up until a year of age.

Lower Ranks Having Pups
Best Answer (Songdog):
The breeding pair usually stick together and fiercely guard their breeding rights. Only one pair breeds per year, unless there is a disruption in dominance or shift in power.

If the non dominant female were to have pups, their chance of survival would be drastically decreased. The mother would not be able to maintain the nutrition required for healthy milk production because the 'lead' female gets priority of the meat. The wolf may be driven out of the pack, the pups may be killed or even abandoned by the mother. The mother would not get choice of denning (dens are only used for pups for a certain age; wolves do not sleep in dens, only the pups) The pups may not have a den at all and would be exposed to the elements. They may not get the protection from predators such as cougars, bears, or large birds (eagles, hawks, etc) Because of poor nutrition, the pups would have a lower immunity, improper growth, etc.

It is rare for there to be more than one litter of pups.

Side Note (pawnee): In Yellowstone during the early years of reintroduction multiple females in sevral packs had pups, sometimes more than one female had a litter in the same pack. Biologists believe that because of the vast resources avalible to the wolves, related females (sisters, mother and daughter) would tolerate their related kin to have a litter. Whether these litters are from a single male is unknown but the majority of the time when this happens is that related females may be more tolerant of another litter.

In captivity, as Songdog said, a low ranking female cannot earn respect to protect her pups so curious wolves might go into the den and investigate. Female wolves in captivity also expirence higher levels of aggression because sub bordinate animals cannot leave the pack and must bear the brunt of the conflicts. Thus, female wolves in captive situations are probably less likely to tolerate an intrusion of their breeding rights by another female.

The only cases in the wild that I`ve read about where more than one wolf produces pups is when there is little compeition from other wolves with abundant resources
when wolf populations are pressured (eg from control programs) and thus the chances of pup survival are increased along with larger litter sizes.

What happens when the dominant wolf passes away or can’t lead?
Best Answer (pawnee):
If a dominant animal passed away, another would take its place, or worse comes to worse, the pack would split up. In captive situations where wolves cannot move away, soemtimes social heirarchy breaks down, and sevral animals will produce young.

Do wolves inheritage Leadership?
Best Answer (pawnee): No, wolves don't inherit their status. By around the four month to six month phase they begin to learn their place within pack heirarchy. Its not like Hyenas where your position and authority is based on your parent's role within a group.

Wolf Ranks?
Best Answer (Songdog):
In a real pack there is a breeding male and a breeding female, sometimes referred to as 'alphas'. All wolves hunt, look after the pups, and so on. There is a 'hierarchy' in the pack, but it is a subtle hierarchy. Wolves will skirmish and flaunt their dominance over one another on a daily basis. 'Omega' is still often accepted as a wolf who is at the lowest rung of the pack; these are generally juvenile males that haven't left the pack yet.

Side Note (pawnee):
Alpha doesn`t apply to wild wolf packs because the term alpha was used in captive/artificial enviornments in which wolves were forced to make a pecking order. Usually in the wild there is a breeding pair and their pups. Sometimes a relative stays with the pack or similiar but more research needs to be done in what drives one wolf to be a leaderwolf and not too.

the term alpha visualizes that animals fight it out to decide who`s boss, like in chickens or something. but most wild wolves try and avoid fighting. you can see the new International Wolf magazine "what happened to the term Alpha?" by David Mech for specific info.

How old a wolves needs to be for disperse?
Best Answer (CLBaileyi):
Per Dave Mech and Steve Fritts: Wolves can disperse as early as 5 months or as old as 5 years. However, most wolves disperse between 11-24 months of age. Also, most wolves disperse in aut5umn and early winter or around spring denning season, although they may disperse at any time of the year.

The above information and a GREAT resource for anyone interested in wolves is the book: Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani. It is worth every penny to have the latest information about wolves in one book.

Do wolves Hunt bison?
Best Answer (Songdog):
As far as I know, yes. But not all wolves.

Wolves will hunt anything they can, including bison. But bison are not found everywhere, so only the wolves in an area with bison would be able to hunt them.

It would take an entire pack to bring down a bison; they are very heavy.

Here are some videos of wolves hunting bison:

Do adult female offspring (from the dominant pair) tend to stay longer in the pack than males?
Best Answer (pawnee):
Actually Mech found that female wolves left their natal packs sooner than males.

Usually young wolves leave their natal pack and seek each other out to form a pack together. Wolves are also oppertunitsts and will take the chance to form their own pack should they choose to do so.

Do wolves mate for life?
Best Answer (Songdog):
I'm not sure if there is a reliable answer for you. Depending on what you read, or what TV program you watch, it will tell you something different.
After Mating, pairs will continue to be affectionate. Although wolves often have long-lasting attachments to thier mates, if one wolf dies, the widowed mate may breed with another wolf. In addition, some males may bond to different females in different years, destroying the long-held "mate for life" myth.

I think as a general answer: Wolves are monogamous. They do not mate with multiple wolves; the breeding pair usually stick together and fiercely guard their breeding rights. Only one pair breeds per year, unless there is a disruption in dominance or shift in power. They more or less choose the same mate each year. If a mate dies, the wolf generally takes a new mate.

In contrast to say a male lion, which will mate with all females, or a squirrel which has a different mate each year.

Important Note (pawnee):
From what I`v read, wolves don`t mate for life though they do show prefrences to certain inviduals. one pair in a European zoo raised pups together for seven years. but say, if one breeding invidual dies or gets overthrown, then they the other breeding wolf just accepts the new mate. Of course, if an animal thinks another is flawed in some way, they might refuse to mate, for instance most female animals will refuse a sickly looking male to mate with them.

but in captivty there are cases of more than one female bearing a litter, whether the litter survives depends on the rank status of the lesser female. a wolf pack in a non fictional book ,Shadow Mountain expirenced such an instance and the yearling wolves brought out the lesser female`s pups from the den. the pups died from exposure to the elements...

but wolf packs do accept pups that aren`t from the leader pair...and with lots of food avalible or no competition from other predators/packs, the wolves might produce a second or third litter. though this needs more research....

Do wolves engage social grooming?
Best Answer (Blightwolf):
Wolves are known being extremely social, and their family unit would not work out without the emotional bonds and attachments between pack members. Wolves have at least three recognised ways of social communication, Audible, Somatic (body language) and Olfactory (scenting and territory marking). Their social behavior is in its highest level when taking a mate; upon greeting, both wolves stand tensely shoulder to shoulder, with fur bristled, tails out and wagging, and ears erect as they venture a sniff of each others nose and muzzle. As they get to know each other better, there may be some play posturing, and then tail, genital, and anal sniffing. This progresses into romping, running, licking, and nuzzling, by which time the greeting phase fades and courtship begins. Courtship is a bonding phase where the wolves get to know each other intimately and a mutual emotional attachment develops. This bond often becomes so strong that the pair will become lifetime mates. However, unlike the romanticism anthropomorphized by human beings, lifetime relationships are more a thing of opportunity than an absolute. Many things can happen in the wilderness to push even the most mutually dedicated lovers apart; such as rivalry between wolves, injury, illness, or death. As courting progresses there comes playful attempts to mounting from the front or side, mutual licking of muzzle, candle, and genitals, parallel running which incorporates nuzzling under the other wolf's jaw or ear, and puppy the ears sideways while together.

Another form of highly-developed social behavior is a wolf taking care of their puppies. The den is a sacred place and the alpha female won't even allow her mate enter, although she may select an assistant from among the pack's other females to help her rear the pack puppies. Wolves love puppies and the entire pack eventually participates in their care. When the pups are born, they are tongue-groomed clean by the mother. The mom wolf will remain in the den for several days straight, licking and feeding the brood. Wolf pups are born quite strong and immediately begin competition with each other to reach mother's nipples. This struggle to suckle also establishes early social ranking. Puppies that die during or after birth are usually buried by the mother. Sometimes the mother will carry a dead puppy around in her mouth, showing the little corpse to the members of the pack. It has even been observed where pack members will take turns doing this until someone finally buries the dead puppy. In captivity dead puppies might be eaten, this behavior has never been observed in the wild.

When the pups are born the entire pack is filled with excitement. It is well documented how much adult wolves love puppies and how every pack member contributes to their care and education. The alpha female will not allow any other wolves to come around when she whelps, not even the alpha male. At a couple months of age mothers will move their puppies away from the den site to what some call a "rendezvous site." This area is usually less than an acre in size, is near water, and is a place for the pups to play, romp, harass lazy adults, and learn their initial skills.

Where can I find general, reliable info about wolves? ... geron.html ... orter.html

Do wolves accept strangers in their pack if they show submissive behavior the 'alpha'?
Best Answer (pawnee):
From all the books I've flipped through; more wolves die from other wolves than by (almost) any other means...thus wolves will attack and kill any wolf caught tresspassing on their territory.

Exceptions are very rare indeed. It could be an individual of the opposite gender in a pack made up of the other in what happened in Yellowstone with the Druid Peak Pack. the dominant male was killed and thus, when a lone male came he (very carefully) investigated the situation and joined the pack of all females.

The only other exception to this would be when a related wolf comes back to its natal or birth pack. Some wolves in Algonquin have done this when they failed to produce their own pack, while others were killed.

Other than that I would say a submissive wolf is still a dead one when tresspassing in another wolf's turf.

Side Note: (Sintact)
For what I have read and I will infer some of the information (meaning that this might not be 100% correct), wolves rarely accept strangers in their pack. Why? Because packs are comformed by family members, not by other wolves. The meaning loner in a pack is the same as the Omega, the wolf that is alone is called Dispersal, and being in this state means that they are searching for another Dispersal that would like to start a pack. Same as the WolfQuest Singleplayer game.

If they find a weak wolf or a hurted one, they will leave it there. It's survival. Indeed, they might as well kill the weak wolf when there's is need (starvation, scarcity, etc).

I saw some years ago a Dispersal wolf joining a pack, meaning that it might be possible for the family members to accept a new comer.

What do wolves do during a storm?
Best Answer: (Azalea)
People often forget that wolves are not dogs. Humans bred dogs for desirable traits, but in doing so, dogs lost a number of features. Many domesticated dogs have lost their ability to thrive in the wild. Wolves have not. Wolves are wild animals and as such are well suited to live outside.

Wolf coats have two layers with two different types of fur. The fur closest to the skin is fine and soft and made for insulation against cold. The outer hairs, or guard hairs, are long and coarse and made for waterproofing. Droplets of water will often roll off the outer hair, keeping the inner hair dry and warm. Because of this, they do not usually need to take shelter in rain or snow. Perhaps if there was a particularity violent storm wolves would take shelter like Sheeba said. The pups and probably the mother would have to take shelter, because pups don't get full adult hair coats until they are near maturity and need the mother to keep them warm, but the rest of a pack are equipped with the features they need to stay alive and well in foul weather. Though they would likely seek shelter in particularly powerful storm, in most weather they can continue with their daily activities.

Are there wolf packs consisting only of females?
Best Answer (Canidae):
It's improbable but not impossible.

Most packs are formed when a dispersal male meets up with a dispersal female. I suppose if she were to give birth to only female pups or if all of the males in her litter died for some reason, then the father died somehow, this scenario could take place. This is a highly unlikely sequence of events, though.

If all of the females in the female-only pack were adults, I can't imagine the pack would stay in that state for very long. When the breeding season would come around and throw all the females into the annual hormonal hurricane, I imagine the tension and stress would prove too much for some of the younger members and the pack would split (especially considering there would be no reason to stay; no males in the pack means no chance of breeding, which is what all of the harsh female dominance is about).

But like I said, you probably won't ever see a female-only pack exist in the wild for more than a few weeks, unless it was comprised of a mother and her daughters and they were all closely bonded.

Are wolves able to swim?

Best Answer: (Songdog)
Wolves can swim, as most mammals can.

However, information about them being able to fish or not is spotty. More research is currently needed to completely confirm this.

Do Wolves usually sleep outside, or in Dens?

Best Answer (SolitaryHowl):
Wolves sleep anywhere, really. They do not use dens even when there are pups in the pack; usually the den is reserved for the puppies. I do not know if the mother goes in the den, maybe if they are really young and are still suckling.

Why dont wolves attack humans?

Best Answer (Songdog):
Wolves do attack humans, there are plenty of recorded attacks from healthy wolves, diseased wolves, provoked wolves, etc. There are also recorded fatal attacks, where wolves have killed humans. The old myth of "There's never been a recorded wolf killing a human in North America" is false, there have already been a few.

Many people want to romanticize the wolf into this perfect creature who would never harm a person, so they often say "If the human was attacked, it must have been their fault". This isn't true, wolves have attacked people for no obvious reason. Sometimes, completely healthy wolves begin attacking people. There are several notable wolves in history that took a liking to human flesh, and killed many people. For example, the Wolf of Soissons killed four people over two days, and the Wolf of Gysinge killed 12 people over 3 months.

They can attack for a number of reasons; sometimes they are hungry, sometimes threatened pr provoked, sometimes diseased, and so forth. I believe a loner is more likely to attack than a wolf from a pack, although there are notable wolf packs who began killing humans. In Russia, wolves have been known to eat humans.

The reason why there are less attacks in North America is partially because the only people who lived there for most of history were Native Americans, and so their attacks went unrecorded. It is believed that North American wolves may be more docile than European and Asian wolves.

Why wolves howl?

Best Answer (Canidae):
The howl of the wolf is one of nature's most evocative and powerful sounds. The haunting chorus of wolves howling is beautiful - or frightening depending on one's point of view. Wolves howl to communicate with one another. They locate members of their own pack by howling, and they often engage in a group howl before setting off to hunt. The howl is a clear warning to neighboring wolves to stay away.

Would a Dispersal Wolf ever return to their pack?
Best Answer (Alycia J):
The nature and extent of dispersal in wolves appears related to wolf density and prey availability (Schullery, 1996). The natural competition between individual wolves, often over breeding status or resources, may result in one wolf leaving the pack. If there is a shortage of food in the pack's territory, low prey density, a wolf may decide to leave the pack and travel to other territories in search of food. A subordinate wolf may choose to leave the pack in search of another pack in which it would have better breeding status. If a wandering wolf does not join a new pack, it may return to its natal pack and assist in raising the pups. ... ersal.html

Can Wolves Smell in Rain?
Best Answer (Blightwolf):
Yes, rain can obscure and weaken scent trails of prey items and other wolves/animals, but it does not effect a wolf's ability to smell.

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Post by Blightwolf » Fri Apr 16, 2010 3:55 pm

Original Topic Found Here -- Posted by, Blightwolf : ... s#p1436702
Blightwolf wrote:The Wolf Mythbuster

The Wolf Mythbuster, or TWM, is an interactive database created by Blightwolf, which collects pervasive misconceptions, false beliefs, fables and deceitful myths and legends regarding the true nature and behavior of the wolf. TWM's goal is to either correct or confirm these myths and distribute reliable, truthful and comprehensive information, in order to dispel prejudice, misguided conceptions and misinterpretations about wolves.

If you have got a wolf-related myth you would like to see busted (or verified), please reply to this thread by following the TWM myth policy exhibited below (erase the parentheses when writing the application!):

The subject of your myth (wolf behavior, wolf/human relations - etc)

The name of your myth (e.g. "Wolves have supernatural powers" - this is complete nonsense and unrealistic, by the way)

Your username (forum name)
The myth you've submitted will be added into the index during the next update and an answer alongside with it. You can check back later to see whether your myth has been busted or ascertained.

Myth #1: Wolves howl at the moon

False. Popular imaginations have led many generations to believe that wolves only howl during full moons - no recorded or documented reports or evidence concerning this type of centered, monthly behavior has been countersigned, however: Wolves howl regardless the time of day. It is plausible that one of the reasons why wolves may howl more actively on moonlit nights is that wolves see better when it is more lighter out, but they do not specifically howl at the moon itself.

Myth #2: It is possible to successfully train wolves

True. While the flexible and adjustive retractability and trainability witnessed in domestic dog breeds is absent on wolves, socialized and conditioned, captive individuals can be trained effectively in order to establish a safer connection and relationship between the animal and the handler and to increase the social attachment, create more manageable and controllable situations during wolf/human encounters, and to enrich a captive wolf's life by breaking up the boredom of living in a non-naturalistic, artificial environment. Training also encourages captive wolves to express interest and reliance towards humans rather than displaying the more natural instincts of fear and avoidance.

Whereas dogs orient to people, are quick to rely and trust their owners, accept them as dominants without any significant trouble, difficulties or frequent challenges for authority and react to vocal commands, wolves are constantly testing their humans handlers for dominance and supremacy, do not express the same degree of dependence and "gratitude" as dogs and are averse to respond to vocal signals.

Basic dog training methods and techniques can be applied for wolf training albeit wolves are fast to lose their preoccupations and are largely motivated by edible items (food prices and rewards) rather than by settling to be content with simple praises or compliments from the trainer. In other words, wolves refuse to perform certain commissions if they do not find it beneficial. Wolves require wide-ranging series of training sessions with multiple different methods and diverse training schedules - if one action solely is repeated on a regular basis, wolves will learn to recognize this action, and will not obey or respond to it no longer. Instead, it is crucial to keep identical training at bay, and to continuously offer wolves something refreshing and entertaining, for they will forfeit their interests in a flash, if intriguing assignments are not provided.

Myth #3: Captive/"pet" wolves make excellent watchdogs and are very protective towards humans

False. Wolves are alert and territorial in wilderness but in captivity, regardless of socialization and training, or whether it's an entire pack or a singular wolf at issue, they will not respond to outside threats unless they view them as a formidable danger for themselves or their pack. Wolves cannot and should not be used as "guard dogs". Wolves are suspicious and preserved by nature and they would not alert their handlers in the middle of the night if they saw a burglar or a trespasser. Having a wolf for property or personal guarding is superlatively unsafe and irresponsible.

Wolves, even the most socialized ones, won't not necessarily display similar kind of affection and attachment for people as domestic dogs might, and therefore human protection qualities cannot be expected from wolves, either. They would not defend or protect their owners or attempt to "rescue" them from threatening situations and environments.

Myth #4: Wolves are good with children and treat them as puppies

False. Young children are always potential targets of a wolf's predation instincts. Children are mobile, small-sized, and appear as accessible, weak, prey-like items. Wolves and children are an incredibly bad and unsafe combination, despite the claims of many fraudulent "wolf breeders". Only a handful of captive "pet" wolves are socialized and trained enough to be "safely" exposed in the company of a child or children, however, these situations should always be very carefully monitored and observed by a bunch of responsible adults and the wolf's owner. The wolf should always be leashed and surrounded by its handlers during a child/wolf confrontation and a small child should never be left unattended with a wolf. In fact, it is not recommended to have children in a close proximity with wolves at all, just to avoid aggressive and hazardous conflicts. In some exceedingly rare cases, wolves regard children as the releasers of the same care-giving behavior shown to puppies, however, even during a situation like this, a wolf has the capability to very quickly change its mind and decide that the child is not a pup but prey after all.

Myth #5: All dogs are descended from wolves

True. Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) share an identical DNA make-up, genetic structure, and molecular level. Due to this intimate relativity, dogs are classified as one of the wolf's subspecies. A common theory is that early dogs were descendants of tamed wolves, which interbred and evolved into a domesticated species. Researches based on recent genetic studies and DNA evidence indicate that some ancient breeds of dog (Dingo, New Guinea Singing Dog) share a higher divergence with wolves rather than similarity, as do many modern breeds, as well, whereas other dogs belonging into other genetic groups, such as German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies, have a more bound ancestry and relativity with wolves. These divergences are indications that the original breeds which shared a more closer relation to wolves were the results of early hybridizations between wolves and dogs - the fact that the black coat color was introduced into the exiting gene pool of wolves due to interbreeding with dogs also strengthens these indications. It is believed that domestic dogs separated from the wolf lineage approximately 100,000 years ago.

It is also thought that all dogs owe their origin to East Asia, deriving from the bloodline of eastern wolves. If this belief is correct, it would indicate that dogs descended from the more scrawny-looking, lighter-built wolves, such as the Indian, Arabian and Tibetan wolves. It is plausible that eastern wolves are the main ancestors of dogs because they share several characteristics with dogs which are absent in northern wolves: their brains are proportionately smaller than northern wolves, their carnassials weaker, and their eyes are larger and rounder. Their vocalizations also include a higher proportion of short, sharp barking and they seldom howl, unlike northern wolves.

Myth #6: Wolves can interbreed with coyotes

True. Male wolf (Canis lupus) and female coyote (Canis latrans) hybridization results in producing fertile offspring, a fact which calls into question their status as two separate species. A study showed that of 100 coyotes collected in Maine, 22% had half or more wolf ancestry, and one was 89% wolf. A theory has been proposed that the large eastern coyotes in Canada are actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and wolves that met and mated decades ago as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges. The red wolf (Canis rufus) is thought by certain scientists to be a wolf/coyote hybrid rather than a unique species. Strong evidence for hybridization was found through genetic testing which showed that red wolves have only 5% of their alleles unique from either gray wolves or coyotes. Genetic distance calculations have indicated that red wolves are intermediate between coyotes and gray wolves, and that they bear great similarity to wolf/coyote hybrids in southern Quebec and Minnesota. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA showed that existing red wolf populations are predominantly coyote in origin. Researchers in the Northeast and Canada say the population of coywolf hybrids is growing in the Northeast region.

Myth #7: Wolves are always the "dominant predator" within their range
(Written by Crocotto)

False. To be a true "dominant predator", a species has to be both an apex predator, and be strong enough to directly stand up to any other large carnivore in its home range. The wolf succeeds in the first aspect, but fails the second. This is because there are several carnivore groups that can easily dominate a lone wolf or even a small pack (only a large pack of 7-9+ members stands a chance).

In Asia, Arabian and Indian wolves (which may be the same subspecies) are in competition with striped hyenas, sloth and Asiatic black bears, Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions (historically), and Asiatic brown bears; all of which can easily kill a lone wolf or a pair of wolves; the brown bear and the Bengal tiger have even been reported to decimate entire packs. Even the massive Siberian wolves (which can get even larger then the largest North American wolves) can be easily killed by Siberian brown bears (which can rival mid-sized Kodiak bears in size) and Siberian tigers.

In North America, wolves can fall prey to various subspecies of brown bear, mountain lion, and black bear (rare, but it does occasionally happen); with only a large wolf pack being a wolf's only chance at killing the latter two. In the case of the brown bear, the situation is even worse for the wolves. A large grizzly bear was documented standing up to an entire wolf pack and seizing their kill. A fight ensued in which the bear received minor injuries, but killed 2 members of the pack and critically wounded 2 others (1 of which died the next day).

The fact wolves are not the dominant predator is one of the main reasons they evolved pack hunting, so they could stand a chance against most of their larger, much more powerful rivals.

Myth #8: Wolves lived peacefully alongside Native Americans and hunted with them
(Written by Crocotto)

False. While some tribes such as the Tanaina people from Alaska revered wolves, no tribe ever elevated wolves to a godlike status and worshiped them, despite what some people claim. And though some groups worshiped other animals, or mythological beings connected to certain animals (i.e. raven, coyote, bear, etc), in general, most of the Native peoples of North America saw the wolf as just another animal, nothing more, nothing less.

It should also be noted, that while some tribes had dogs, these canines didn't original from North American wolf stock. These dogs were domesticated in the Old World (Europe) from the Indian/Arabian wolf, and came with the ancestors of the Native Americans across the land bridge.
Native Americans don't and never did hunt alongside wolves.

Wolf Genetics - Eye Color
(Written by ara-tun)

Determination of eye color is actually fairly complex. Eye color is polygenic; that is, it takes multiple genes to determine the color and shade of the iris (this is true for mammals, although a different mechanism is in place for birds, and likely reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects). Among mammals, brown and other dark colors are the most common eye color, however blue, gray, green and red also occur.

While the majority of wolves do indeed have differing shades of amber and brown eyes, this is by no means the only colors represented in pure wild wolf populations. Less common in wolves is the blue mutation, however this is not always due to breeding with dogs. Blue eye color is rare in wolves, but it does occur. Like most blue eyes in mammals, it occurred first as a mutation that promoted a certain pigment over another - in this case, shades of blue over shades of gold or brown - which was then passed down in their offspring. Some dog breeds likely have inherited their blue eyes from wolves, although most probably developed the mutation on their own. Some wolf populations that live in close proximity to humans and their dogs may certainly gain a higher proportion of blue-eyed individuals, but not all blue-eyed wolves have dog ancestry.

Even more rare than blue eyes is green. Green-eyed wolves do not all share dog ancestry. Indeed, very few dogs exhibit green eyes (Dachshunds and Golden Retrievers occasionally have green eyes), and likewise very few wolves show green eyes. Again, this is another mutation. Depending on the shade of green, the mutation can occur on what would normally be a brown eye - creating the green-and-brown hazel eye -, or on a gold eye - creating a paler, green-and-gold hazel eye.

Likely the rarest eye color among wolves is red. The red eye color is due to a complete lack of pigmentation in the eye, resulting in the underlying red of the capillaries to show through. Red eye color is generally associated with albinism, which can - but does not always - lead to other degenerative conditions such as blindness or skin cancer.

It is also possible for wolves (and other mammals) to exhibit heterochromia - two different eye colors. This can occur either as a rare eye mutation, through disease, or through trauma. Even more rarely, this can occur due to the organism being a chimera - that is, having two separate sets of DNA, likely from a consumed twin. This is extremely rare outside of a lab setting, and is theoretically possible in every organism.

Blightwolf's +: While heterochromia is possible for wolves, bi-eyed wolves have not been documented to exist in the wild.

Myth #9: Wolves eat elk calves

False. Wolves rarely kill elk calves below the age of 6 and 8 months. Wolves do consume elk, but they primarily target injured, old or sick adult specimens, not young calves. This is because a large, fully-grown animal provides more food for a pack. Though calves would be more vulnerable for depredation, they would provide insufficient amount of meat for an entire pack. Single wolves are more likely to hunt a small calf, but packs tend to concentrate on the depredation of adult elk.

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Post by Blightwolf » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:50 am

The donations from Silverwolf and Canidae have been added and the list has been updated.

Should this topic be stickied for easy access? It wouldn't get lost behind if this was stickied.

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Information about Dire Wolves (Canis Dirus)

Post by SolitaryHowl » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:03 am

Originally post-

The following is information I've collected from the documentary entitled:

National Geographic: Prehistoric Predators: Dire Wolves

You're welcome to rent it somewhere and watch it. It's really good, and contains additional Grey Wolf hunting information.

This thread is to assist others with the new User Writings rule we have. (Dire wolves are now allowed to be written about.) However, those stories must still follow the following information. All other information not listed I either didn't deem important, or isn't known. But most aspects are similar to the Grey Wolf.
EDIT: Corrections have been made by Crocotto:
Dire wolves were the underdogs of Ice age North America. Even in large packs they often lost prey too larger carnivores, especially the Giant Short Faced bear. This is most evident in nearly a quarter of all injuries found on Dire Wolf fossils match up with evidence of a bear attack.
They were anything BUT the alpha carnivore of the Ice Age, unlike what you and History Channel say

Lastly, there is absolutely zero evidence dire wolves predated on any species of mammoth or mastodon. Even the calves were just too big for them. The only predators any North American elephantine has was the Giant Short Faced bear* (who was a legitimate hunter, another victim of history channel's inaccuracy), Smiley (calves only), and humans

The episode also neglects to state the dire "wolves's" relation. It continues to paint the false image that Dires are just over sized Gray Wolves; instead of stating the true fact that the dire "wolf" is really a Dire Coyote, as the American Coyote is it's closest living relative

*Giant Short Faced Bear:
The idea this animal was a pure scavenger is pure idiocy at it's best. The ONLY pure scavengers in the world are Vultures, and only they can afford to because they are not very big, and can fly.
The idea a super carnivore could use the same strategy is rooted in no fact, and in pure, outdated speculation.
Large carnivores
-Need more food
- and can't move very fast (relatively speaking)

I've seen the same happen to Tyrannosaurus, despite mountains of evidence of live hunting

Do you think a T-rex could live off of scraps from a dromeosaur kill? Nope
Do you think a Uber-Bear could last the Ice-Age off of the scrap wolves left him? Nope

History Channel is a HORRIBLE paleontology network. They exaggerate, make up 'facts', and often leave stuff out.

General Information

Size: Around 2 meters long, 1 meter high, and averaged 70kg. With the males weighing more than the females.

Era that they lived: Ice age.

Other important atonomy information:

- Much larger teeth and jaw. Teeth often broke and shattered due to the gnawing of bones.

Pack Dynamics/Hunting:

- Similar to that of the Grey Wolf; but there are key differences.

- Hunted in packs of 30 or more.

- Carnivore

- Able to kill prey 10x its size.

- Able to fight off much larger predators like the Saber Tooth cat and the Short-faced bear.

- Often died in sticky tar pits while hunting prey. (Dehydration, starvation)

- Dominant killer in the ice age.

- More Dire Wolves than Grey Wolves; and in a confrontation the Grey Wolves ran.

- Brought down prey by weight and jaws.

- Had stronger bite than Grey wolf

- Mostly hunted on Bison and Mammoth

- But hunts were still dangerous, with still a low hunt successful rate.

- Ate prey rapidly to avoid predator confrontation (within minutes.)

- When Dire Wolves are injured, some may carry food and nurture it. But others are not as cooperative and may abuse the animal.


- Pups were treated similarly to the Grey wolf's.

- The pups mostly did not start to hunt until 7-8 months.


- A lot of theories.

- Severe abrupt climate change - dire wolves could not adapt to warmer weather.

- Dire wolves met an unexpected abrupt end.

- Some people suggest this was caused by humans, who brought diseases and more competition for prey.

(This Thread May Be Updated Without Notification

[Additional Websites with Accurate Information:]

Last edited by Koa on Tue Jul 04, 2017 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: moving content of destickied thread to this post
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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Blightwolf » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:52 am

Thank you, Soli. I appreciate that.

The list will be updated soon and more answers will be added as soon as I am able to do some more research and add some questions.

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Zethra » Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:30 pm

Very good idea to have this here Blightwolf! This will stop members from making topics about the same questions over and over, it will also help these users more.
............'..........Avatar by Zethra

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Blightwolf » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:03 am

That is the sole purpose of this thread, Dom; people can check the list of questions in here first and they don't have to post an unnecessary topic if the answer to the question is found here. ;)

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by SolitaryHowl » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:08 pm

I have a bunch to be added.

1. Can/do wolves disperse in groups?

Most wolves disperse alone, but there are exceptions to the rule. Some wolves disperse in groups (such as in duos) but they eventually split up.

Wolves: Biology, Behaviour, and Conservation (Edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani)

2. 1. How far will a dispersal go?

It has been recorded up to 886km (521 mi). The younger the disperser, the farther it goes. A dispersal wolf will continue to travel until it has 'settled', that is, until it finds the right conditions in an area.

Wolves: Biology, Behaviour, and Conservation (Edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani)

3. Can/do wolves associate themselves with multiple packs?

It is not exactly common, but not much is known about this behaviour. In a population in northwestern Montana, "two individuals (both genders) traveled freely between two packs and were observed caring for pups in two packs during one denning season" (Boyd et al. 1995, 139)

Wolves: Biology, Behaviour, and Conservation (Edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani)

4. What is the fate of a 'fractured pack'?

A fractured pack's, or pack's whose key members have died, fate depends on just which members have died. Because the heart of a pack is the breeding pair (dominant pair), the death off all offspring would just result in the pair breeding again next year. If one member of the breeding pair dies, the other surviving breeding member may hold the territory until a new mate arrives. If the breeding pair is lost, the remaining members may disperse and become part of the 'floating' population, unless they are pups which would die from starvation or from predators.

Wolves: Biology, Behaviour, and Conservation (Edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani)
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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Blightwolf » Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:19 am

Solitary's donations have been added; thanks, Soli. ;)

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Canidae » Thu Apr 22, 2010 3:44 pm

35HH: What countries are wolves found in, and APPROXIMATELY how many are there?
  • 1. Afghanistan: 1,000
    2. Albania: 250
    3. Armenia: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    4. Azerbaijan: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    5. Bahrain: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    6. Bangladesh: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    7. Belarus: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    8. Bhutan: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    9. Bosnia and Herzegovina: 600
    10. Bulgaria: 800-1000
    11. Canada
    a. Alberta: 4,000-4,200
    b. British Columbia: 8,000
    c. Manitoba: 4,000-6,000
    d. Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,000-5,000
    e. Northwest Territories: 4,000-5,000
    f. Nunavut: 5,000
    g. Ontario: 8,500-9,000
    h. Quebec: 5,000
    i. Saskatchewan: 4,3000
    j. Yukon Territory: 5,000
    12. China: 6,000
    13. Croatia: 200
    14. Czech Republic: 20
    15. Egypt: 30-50
    16. Estonia: fewer than 500
    17. Ethiopia (Ethiopian wolves): 400-500
    18. Finland: 250-270
    19. France: 40-100
    20. Georgia: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    21. Germany: 5-10
    22. Greece: 200-300
    23. Greenland: 50
    24. Hungary: fewer than 50
    25. India: 1,000-2,000
    26. Iran: more than 1,000
    27. Iraq: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    28. Israel: 150-200
    29. Italy: 500-600
    30. Jordan: 200
    31. Kazakhstan: 30,000
    32. Kuwait: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    33. Kyrgyzstan: 4,000
    34. Latvia: 900
    35. Lebanon: 10 (possibly more)
    36. Lithuania: 600
    37. Macedonia: fewer than 1,000
    38. Moldova: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    39. Mongolia: 10,000-20,000
    40. Nepal: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    41. Norway: 20, but shares a population of about 210 with Sweden
    42. Oman: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    43. Pakistan: 200
    44. Poland: 600-700
    45. Portugal: 200-300
    46. Qatar: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    47. Romania: 2,500
    48. Russia: 50,000-60,000
    49. Saudi Arabia: 300-500
    50. Serbia and Montenegro: 500
    51. Slovakia: 350-400
    52. Slovenia: 20-40
    53. Spain: 1,500-2,000
    54. Sweden: about 210, shared with Norway
    55. Switzerland: possibly 3-4
    56. Syria: 200
    57. Tajikistan: 3,000
    58. Turkey: 5,000-10,000
    59. Turkmenistan: 1,000
    60. Ukraine: 2,000
    61. United Arab Emirates: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
    62. The United States
    a. Alaska: 8000-11000
    b. Arizona: 42 (shared with New Mexico)
    c. Idaho: 835
    d. Michigan: 500 (including 20 on Isle Royale in 2007)
    e. Minnesota: about 3000
    f. Montana: 493
    g. New Mexico: 42 (shared with Arizona)
    h. North Carolina (red wolves): 100-120
    i. Oregon: Few wolves (at least 10), but population is increasing.
    j. Washington: Few wolves (at least 2 packs), but population is increasing.
    k. Wisconsin: 626-662
    l. Wyoming: 319
    63. Uzbekistan: 2,000
    64. Yemen: unknown (but it is possible that wolves live here)
Sources: ... report.pdf ... sp?id=4769 ... update.pdf ... 57428.html
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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Blightwolf » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:51 pm

Canidae's donation has been added. ;)

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by soloreclipse » Mon May 10, 2010 7:42 pm

Blight, everything that you post is wonderfully helpful. I was actually wondering one of those questions! Now i know! :mrgreen:
Why are you reading this? You just wasted 2 seconds of your life reading this!!!!

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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Canidae » Mon May 10, 2010 7:46 pm

soloreclipse wrote:Blight, everything that you post is wonderfully helpful. I was actually wondering one of those questions! Now i know! :mrgreen:
Haha that's so true. ^^ I'm glad you found this helpful as well, I absolutely love this topic.
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Re: Wolf Q&A: Frequently Asked Questions

Post by Blightwolf » Wed May 12, 2010 12:33 am

A lot of research and effort has been put into this topic, both on my account and also my amazing donators. ^^

The list of questions is ever-growing, but myself and others will fill those as soon as possible.

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