Facts

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Species: Canis Lupus

Family: Canidae, the dog family

Size: Full grown wolves has an average weight of 85 pounds
(70-90 is normal) for males and 68 pounds for females.

Looks: The ground color is light grey/yellow with a little red brownish and black. In North America it varies from black to white. During the winter the fur is thicker and more grey. The wolf has longer legs, bigger paws and a bigger head then an German Sheperd.

Teeth: The wolf has 42 teeth. The teeth are adapted to grip, pull, tear to pieces and crush.

Spreading: The wolf is the beast of prey that has, except for man, the biggest natural spreading.

Communication: Wolves communicate in many different ways. Like humans the wolf can express it's feelings with bodylanguage. When the wolf is happy the ears are folded backwards, the mouth is open and the toungue is hanging out. When the wolf feels threatened it wrinkles the snout and the teeth are showing. The wolf also communicates by howling. It howles to gather the pack, to scare off other wolves and to give signal for the hunt. Urine is another way of communication. To mark the packs territory or to leave messages to other packmembers the alfa-male, or sometimes the alfa-female urinates. When an alfa-male wants to mark his rank in the hierarchy he shows a threatening body language. The alfa male rise the goat's hair and lifts its tail.

Hearing and smell: The wolf has excellent hearing. It's needed both in communicating with other wolves and for detecting prey. Even the sense of smell is very well developed, the sensitive snout can detect another wolf as far away as 2,5 km.

They are grown up already after 1 year, but don't get sexually mature until they are two years, then they are pushed away from the pack.

Their temper is very different from a dogs. While the dogs instinct is bred to tend and guard, the wolves instinct is focused on hunting. The wolf also defends its food more aggressively then the dog.

The wolf come of primitive small meat eaters, so called Creodonts, that established themselves on this earth about 100 million years ago.

Breeding: The breeding takes place in February-March and the wolf bitch is pregnant with puppies for as long as a dog bitch (63 days). Normally the wolf give birth to as many puppies as a dog (2-6). The birth takes place in a lair or in a dry place with high bushes.

Hierarchy: A wolf pack has a very strict hierarchy and consists mostly of one dominating male and female, called Alpha couple! After the Alpha couple comes the Beta male and the Beta female, and after them some younger subordinated animals. And finally there are one or two animals the others can pick on. Scientists call those animals Omega animals. (Because Omega is the last character in the Latin alphabet.) Those animals can be put through very tough and rough persecutions, and if they are not pushed away and leave the pack they can get killed by the others.

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Hunt: The wolf is a very good hunter, he can hunt alone and with a pack. They hunt down mice, rabbits and other small animals, but their main food consists of the larger animals, such as moose and reindeer . So, many people consider the wolf too much of a hunting competitor, that's why they don't want them to be re-established. Alone or as a pack the wolves chase the prey by leaping. They usually bite a hind leg to make the prey stop, and then kills it by biting the throat. The chase can be very short, but it can also continue for several miles before the wolves give up. If wolves are left alone they usually eat the whole prey. Only the stomach, hair, teeth, parts of the cranium and large bones are left.

The wolves distinctivly stand out in comparison to our other large predators, because they are living in packs. A wolfpack move through deep snow by walking in a row. Wolves turn aside when they encounter fences or barriers, and take a roundabout to avoid sheep- or reindeer-fences. They also hesitate before crossing fresh ski- or snowmobile-tracks, and they can be seen trying to cross at different places before taking a forceful jump across the track. It seems that the wolf shrinks from crossing rail-road tracks. There is a theory that the building of railroads in the last century has affected the spreading of wolves in Scandinavia.

When there's food wolves eat fast and much. A grown up wolf can easily eat 16-18 pounds of meat in one day! That is about 1/3 of their weight. The wolf can live in all types of natures as long as there's food for them to eat.

Does wolves kill an animal in prime condition? Will the wolf kill more then it needs to eat? The answer to these two questions is that these actions are VERY RARE and are usually easy to explain.

Travel: In 24 hours a wolf can move about 125 miles. Mostly it uses its special, light and energy saving trot. Normally the wolf spends 1/3 of the 24 hours moving. During the winter it moves any time during the day,but in the summer time it mostly moves during the night hours.


Sources:
The big 5

Svenska Rovdjursföreningen
Naturvårdsverket