you know that wolves are actually members of the dog family? That's
right, they are the largest 'dogs' on the planet. They are
really good hunters and many people are afraid of wolves because of
their size and because of their loud howl. But don't worry, wolves
actually try to avoid humans as much as possible.
many different types of communication. One way they communicate is
through sound. The howl is
a well-known method wolves use to communicate with each other. While howling, wolves often
change their voices a lot. As a result, people are sometimes "fooled" into
believing that there are more wolves present than there really are when they
hear wolves howling. People have often guessed, after listening to howls, that a pack of wolves contained up to 20 individuals, when there were
only 3 or 4. Some people have claimed that wolves do that deliberately, in
order to fool neighboring packs into believing that there are more animals
present than there really are. However, many naturalists and wolf biologists do
not accept that idea. Wolves seem to howl for many reasons. They often
howl before they go on a hunt, possibly to rally the pack together, and they
often begin to howl after a successful hunt. That suggests that howling
serves to bring a pack together, since wolves often become separated from each
other during a hunt. They do not, however, howl while they are hunting, as that
would alert prey to the wolves' location, and give them time
to escape. In addition, a wolf may howl alone if it is having trouble locating
its pack. Surprisingly, pack members seem to recognize each other's voices, since
individual wolves often have their own way of howling. Wolves
will also howl in apparent grief after the death of their mates, and lonely wolf
pups often howl in distress.
Wolf packs may also howl to
communicate with other packs, as two different wolf packs will sometimes answer
each other's howls. Wolves will also often answer the calls of humans who are
pretending to howl like wolves. Wolves howl less often during May and June than they do
during the rest of the year. This may be because that is the time that packs are most
likely to have young pups present. It is possible that wolf packs who have
young pups present often keep silent so they do not attract attention to their
location, since pups are vulnerable to predators like bears and
make other sounds besides howling. Wolves can also whimper, growl,
bark and squeak. Whimpering is usually a friendly greeting or
it shows submission. Wolves growl when they are trying to
scare another wolf or are behaving aggressively. Wolves
rarely bark. Barking may be an alarm call or it is sometimes made during play. Captive wolves who
have been around domestic dogs may bark more often than wild wolves.
Wolves use body
language and facial expressions
to communicate with each other. Dominant wolves will look other animals
directly in the eye. This shows their superior rank.
subordinate wolf will cringe towards the leader with tail low and bent legs,
ears back and down, in a submissive nature. At other times, active submission
involves a group of subordinate wolves surrounding the dominant wolf with their
noses up against it. Various facial muscles, eyes,
ears and the nose are extremely important when wolves are expressing their
feelings. Bared teeth, an
open mouth, and ears erect and pointed forward indicate a
threat by a dominant wolf.
are one of the largest members of the dog family. Wolves look much like
large German shepherd dogs. But a wolf has longer legs, bigger feet, a wider
head, and a long bushy tail. Most adult male wolves weigh from 75 to 120 pounds
(34 to 54 kilograms). They measure from 5 to 6 1/2
feet (1.5 to 2 meters) long, including the tail, and are about 2 1/2
feet (76 centimeters) tall at the shoulder. Female wolves are smaller than the
The fur of a wolf varies in color from pure white in the Arctic to
jet black in the sub arctic forests. Most wolves have gray fur. Wolves of the
northern and Arctic regions grow long, thick winter coats that protect them from
the bitter cold.
A wolf has 42 teeth, including 4 fangs at the front of
the mouth that are used to wound, grab, and kill prey. The fangs may measure up
to 2 inches (5 centimeters) long from root to tip. Gray wolves
may weigh from 27 to 175 pounds.
Wolves are found in many countries
throughout the world such as the USA, Spain, Russia, China, and Canada.
About the only place wolves don't live is in rainforests and deserts. One place where scientists are trying to get
more wolves to live is in the state of Oregon, USA. They
have a lot of deer and elk for the wolves to eat. With over 114
wolves in Idaho, some have already arrived in Oregon and more will be coming.
Wolf packs live in a defined
area, which may be anywhere from 50 to
1,000 square miles. The territory size is determined by the movement and amount
of prey. A pack will defend its territory against other wolves if
necessary. In the eastern woodland the "timber wolf" is another
name for the gray wolf; in the arctic the "arctic wolf" is another
name for the gray wolf; in the tundra the "tundra wolf" is another
name for the gray wolf. The gray wolf has thrived in many different
Wolves hunt many different kinds of
animals, and some of their prey is small. Wolves like to eat beavers when larger
animals aren't available. Wolves like to hunt rabbits, squirrels, ducks, geese, and other birds. When prey is really hard to find,
wolves may eat mice, some insects, nuts, and berries.
The smaller prey is important when the
wolves are raising their pups. This is because younger wolves can hunt smaller prey and help feed themselves and the pups. When a wolf pack hunts, the members of the
pack work together as a team. This way they can hunt very large animals. They may hunt deer, elk, or mountain goats.
Most of these animals are a good deal larger than wolves, and they can be hard
Wolves are good hunters.
They hunt day or night. They have excellent vision, smell, and hearing. A wolf can see and smell a deer more than
one mile away! A wolf can eat 20 pounds at one time.
Then they can go without food for two weeks or longer.
are often monogamous. They usually mate
for life, but if one partner dies the surviving wolf often looks for another
mate. Sometimes male wolves will
mate with a second female and help raise her family too. Whether a male wolf
does this depends on whether there is enough food.
Other Interesting Facts |
- Many people believe wolves attack human beings, and the animal's eerie howl
frightens them. However, wolves stay away from people.
- There are only a few hundred red wolves
left and most of them are in captivity.
- Wolves are active during the day and night.
McCann, Debra "Wolves." 16
March 2006 <http://users.ap.net/~chenae/wolfhome.html>.
Mech, L. David. "Wolf." World Book
Online Reference Center. 21 March 2006 <http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar607980&st=wolves>.
Sloan, Monty "Wolf
Facts." Wolf Web. 13 March 2006 <http://www.wolfweb.com/facts-communication.html>.
Ualberta. 13 March 2006 <http://www.ualberta.ca/~jzgurski/wcomm.html>.
"Wolf Communication." Wolf
Source. 14 March 2006 <http://www.wolfsource.org/communicate.html>.
"Wolves of the
World." Wolves. 15 March 2006 <http://www.cosmosmith.com/wolfpage.html>.
Permission to use photographs of baby
wolf, grey wolf sitting, grey wolf bearing its teeth and grey wolf with ears
back is granted under the terms of the GNU
Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.