The Arctic Wolf Animal Facts
The Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) is a sub-species of the grey wolf and has a number of similarities with other types of wolves. These include living and hunting in packs, has a social hierarchy and holds territory. They differ from the other types of wolves in their habitat, appearance and the types of prey they hunt. With their beautiful soft white fur, they are a distinctive and majestic creature of the cold northern lands.
The Arctic wolf lives mainly in the Arctic, the lands located 67 degrees north latitude. Except for a short time during the summer, this region is mainly covered in snow and ice most of the year. Because of this, the Arctic wolf has adapted to this region extremely well. Their white coats allow them to blend into the snowy backgrounds – allowing them a natural camouflage.
In comparison with their grey wolf cousins, the Arctic wolf has smaller and rounder ears, a thick coat, a shorter muzzle and shorter legs to help reduce heat loss. In addition to this, they have well padded paws and fur between the pads to protect them from the cold conditions since this region’s temperatures can drop to minus 70 degree Fahrenheit.
The average height of an Arctic wolf is 25 to 31 inches, three to five feet in length and a weight of up to 175lb. Females are typically lighter than males.
Diet and Foraging:
The Arctic wolf has a much larger natural habitat to hunt in comparison with their grey wolf cousins, up to 1000 square feet. In the Arctic, these animals will mainly hunt musk oxen and arctic hare, but will also hunt Peary caribou, ptarmigan, lemmings, seals, and nesting birds.
Musk oxen and caribou are hunted in packs, due to these creatures being too large for a single Arctic wolf to bring down alone. Like in Africa with the lion and deer, the Arctic wolf will run from side to side as their prey circles around their young to protect them. The wolves’ will circle round to make the caribou move and once they do, they will pick off the youngest and weakest.
The Arctic wolf is a pack animal. A pack will usually be made up of seven to ten wolves in a strict social hierarchy. Packs have an Alpha male and female, their pups and their unmated offspring. Extremely family orientated, wolves will look up to their Alpha male and female. All wolves will look and care for the pups. Lone wolves are typically unmated young males who go off to search for new and unclaimed territory in order to start his own pack.
Since humans are very rarely seen in the wolves’ natural habitat, it does not fear or run away from them. Friendly and fearless, the Arctic wolf is a graceful yet powerful animal.
The gestation period of an Arctic wolf is 63 days. Due to the permafrost, Arctic wolves find it extremely difficult to dig dens for their young. Instead, Arctic wolves will often have their pups in cave outcroppings or caves where their young will be safe from predators and the cold.
Female wolves will typically have a litter consisting of two or three pups in late May or early June. Their cousins in the south would usually give birth a month earlier and a litter typically produces an average of five or six pups. The reason for a smaller litter may be due to the scarcity of food. After about a year, these pups will break off from their mother and become independent.
Thankfully, the Arctic wolf is not in danger from human poaching. However, rapid climate change has resulted in a decline in numbers of their traditional food supplies. In addition to this, industrial works (such as pipe-lying) has encroached in on their territory.