The gray wolf is probably one of the more feared predators of the wilderness (Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?). While they have a lot of similarities to the coyote, wolves travel in packs and as a group they can be a much more intimidating predator to a larger prey.
Wolves have 42 teeth and can chase their prey at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. They can sustain these speeds for up to 20 minutes when chasing their prey. But even more impressive than this, is the mileage that many packs will cover in a day. Comfortably trotting at 5-10 miles per hour a wolf pack can cover over 100 miles in day! It’s not uncommon for a wolf to be on the move for 8-10 hours per day. The typical territory of a pack can be over 500 square miles.
Wolves are also well known for their order of the pack. The leader or Alpha Male will typically call the shots for the other pack members. A wolf pack can have up to 15 wolves. The 2nd in command or Beta wolf is also a recognized authority figure for their pack. Every wolf knows their place in the pack and evidence it through their subservient behavior. The lowest ranking wolf is called the Omega.
As you might have guessed, the wolf is a carnivore meaning it eats other animals. Wolves will often hunt large prey like, elk, moose, and deer. And the pack will usually pick out the weak or sickly one to pounce on. And despite the fact that they have 42 teeth and the jaw strength to crack bones, wolves do very little chewing of their food.
The gray wolf has been losing their habitat over the years and their primarily found in the forests and tundra of Alaska, Canada, and the northern border of the United States. The endangered Red Wolves are scarce in number and can be found in the Southeastern United States.
Like the dog, the wolf has a tremendous sense of smell…almost 100x better than humans! Unlike the coyote, a wolf’s ears and snout are less pointed. Wolves are larger than their distant cousins the coyote and can be between 4 and 6 ½ feet long. Average males are 95-100 pounds and females are 80-85 pounds.
Mating season for the gray wolf is between February and March. The average litter of pups that’s born in the April / May timeframe will have 4-7 little ones. And after of a month of nursing in the den, they will venture out. The entire pack participates in raising the wolf pups. And it’s worth noting that wolves usually mate for life.
The Gray Wolf is at the top of the food chain and would be a tremendous sight to see in the wild. Sadly their habitat is shrinking and their population with it. If you’re camping in remote areas of North America, check the snow for their tracks!