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Gray Wolf

Loup gris

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Gray Wolf

Facts about the Gray Wolf

Weight: 36 to 50 kg
Height: 0,75 m
Length: 1,5 m to 1,65 m

  • Very acute. The wolf can detect sounds several kilometers away.
  • Highly developed. Can scent a prey over 2 km away.
  • Extremely powerful. They can break the femur of an adult moose. 

All wolves around the world come from the same species: Canis lupus. In North America, there are 24 subspecies of wolves, 17 of them in Canada.

Growing up

Loup grisYoung wolves learn hunting techniques, caution and cunning through play. By the age of two, some leave to find a territory of their own where they will raise a family.

Others stay with their parents for the rest of their lives.

Territory

Wolves are found in a variety of habitats:  in subarctic and boreal forests as well as wooded areas combining coniferous and deciduous trees, right up into the tundra. A wolf delineates its hunting territory by urinating along its borders to keep out neighbouring packs. The familiar smell also serves as a marker. A territory can range from 100 to 750 km2 depending on the availability and quantity of food.

Family life

Wolves are very social creatures and live in packs, in harmony with each other. Depending on how much food is available, a wolf pack will vary from 4 to 7 members, consisting of the dominant pair, their young, other adults of either sex, usually all from the same family. Only the dominant male and female reproduce.

On the move

Wolves spend a third of their lives on the move. They can trek 50 km at a stretch and cover up to 60 km in a single day. On average, they travel 20 km a day.

Hierarchy

Power and strength determine the hierarchy, or social order, within a pack. When the cubs are only a few months old, they start vying for rank. Even when they’re playing, the dominant cubs will fight and bite, while the submissive ones will run away.

Great hunter

Loup gris

The wolf prefers the meat of big game such as deer, caribou and moose. Once it finds an animal that is weak or on its own, it approaches stealthily and outruns it before killing it with a few snaps of its powerful jaws.

A healthy wolf will consume the equivalent of 5 to 8 moose per year, or more than 2,000 kg of meat.

SEASON BY SEASON

Spring

In spring, the pregnant female settles in an underground retreat, usually an abandoned fox or woodchuck den. If she can’t find a vacant shelter, she will dig one on the slope of a sandy hill. The cubs are born after a two-month gestation period. The parents are very affectionate with the newborn.  All the members of the pack take care of the young.

When they’re a month old, the cubs are ready to venture outside the den. At two months, they’re introduced to meat in a very peculiar way.

The female gives birth once a year to a litter of 4 to 7 cubs. At birth, a baby wolf is the size of a squirrel, measuring 25 to 33 cm and weighing about 450 grams.  The cubs get their first taste of meat by licking the jaws of the adults who regurgitate pre-digested food. 

Summer

At three months old, the cubs no longer sleep in the den. At this age they look a lot like puppies. They love to play. They learn through playing and come to understand their rank within the pack.

During the summer, a wolf’s diet will vary: field mice, hares, birds and even fish. Because wolves are excellent swimmers, they have no qualms about hunting beavers. A pack is led by the biggest and strongest male. Following a hunt, the leader of the pack is always the first to eat and therefore gets the choicest morsels. The wolf plays an important role in weeding out animals that are weak, sick or old.

Fall

By fall, the wolf cub is the size of an adult. It hunts and follows the pack wherever it goes. This is the season when the wolf must travel long distances to find food. During its lifetime, a wolf’s diet will consist mainly of small game and birds. An adult wolf can consume 9 kilograms of meat in one meal.

Although most of its prey can run faster, the wolf has a big advantage over them: it can run for hours at a stretch without tiring. Even when the odds are not in its favour, a wolf can survive for weeks without eating. A wolf lives for 10 years. Some exceptional cases in captivity have been known to reach the ripe old age of 18.

Winter

Loup grisIn December and January, when hunting conditions are extremely difficult and small game are hard to find, wolves will form hunting bands to seek out larger prey. Nine times out of ten, though, they’ll return with an empty stomach. Half of the young wolves will succumb to cold and hunger during their first winter. The mating season is in February and March. A female wolf can reproduce at the age of two, a male when he is three years old. There is much fighting within the pack to determine each member’s rank in the hierarchy. A single male will mate with a single female. These two wolves wield all the power in the pack and usually mate for life. If and when one of them dies, the other adapts very quickly.

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Comments

Les loups

Par Jacob, 2010-11-03, 12h51

Le loup est mon animal preféré. J'ai une couverture de loup, j'ai plein d'affiches de loups et j'ai une chambre de loup

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