Canis lupusGrey Wolf male

Family

  • Canidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 8 to 16 years
  • Captivity: Up to 20 years

Size

  • Length: 4 to 5 ½ feet
  • Weight: 40 to 170 pounds

Habitat

  • Widely varied including forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, and grasslands

Lifestyle 

  • Social, living in packs of 5 to 15 members

Historical Range

  • Throughout North America, Asia, and Europe

Diet

  • Wild: Elk, deer, bison, sheep, small mammals.
    • The pack works together to take down the larger prey.
    • Wolves also will eat fish and carrion
  • Zoo: Ground beef with vitamins mixed in, dog kibble, and knucklebones to help keep their teeth healthy

Reproduction

  • Sexual maturity occurs at 2 years of age.
  • Mating season takes place January through March, usually between the alpha male and the alpha female who normally mate for life.
    • Both attempt to keep others in the pack from mating.
  • After a gestation period of about 9 weeks, a litter of 3 to 9 deaf and blind pups are born.
    • Virtually all pack members contribute to raising pups, often bringing food to the mother while she is nursing.

Unique Characteristics Grey Wolf female

  • Strict domestic hierarchies govern the pack based on relationships with the alpha male.
  • Dens are found in the ground or in rocky crevices and are often used year after year.

Special Adaptations

  • The wolf’s body is built for stamina and endurance.
  • It has powerful jaws and excellent senses of smell, sight, and hearing.
  • The teeth are equipped to strip flesh right off bones.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • The Grey wolf, also called the Timber wolf, was once the most widespread mammal apart from humans.
  • Because of extermination programs based on unreasonable fear and unrestricted hunting, wolves were near extinction throughout the country by the early 1900’s.
  • Due to federal intervention and placing the wolf on the endangered list, wolf populations slowly began to rise.
  • In early 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife changed the status of the Grey wolf from "Endangered" to "Threatened" in most of the lower 48 states.
  • In 2012 Michigan officially took the Grey Wolf off of the Endangered Species list for the state.  It is still protected and is not available for hunting at this time.

 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. <www.cites.org>
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Canis lupus (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/328607

Grey Wolf female