Wolves have fascinated and frightened humans for centuries. Despite having a strong presence in popular culture, there are many things about wolves that few people know. As such, today I’m going to give you a list of fun facts about wolves, as well as several cool wolf pictures.
A Bit of Wolfpedia
Wolves are the largest members of the Canid family and, as you likely know, closely related to dogs. They are social animals and tend to live in packs made of eight to twelve individuals. While some people have flirted with the idea of raising wolves as pets, they are not domesticated at all and can be both extremely shy and extremely aggressive around humans.
While not all wolves look the same, they are generally easy to recognize. The most common species is the gray wolf (who, despite their name, have colors rangings from nearly white to black), also known as the timber wolf. Gray wolves are 6.56 ft (120 to 200 cm) long and weigh between 50 and 175 lbs (18-79 kg). The red wolf, on the other hand, is about 4.5-.5.5 ft long (137-168 cm) and weigh around 50-80 lbs (23-36 kg).
Wolves can be found in Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America. Even if you live or go in any of these places, it won’t be easy to find a wolf in the wilds, as they are typically few in numbers and located in remote places.
If you think dogs eat too much when given the opportunity, you should see what wolves can handle. During a single meal, an average wolf can eat as much as 20 lbs (9 kg) of food. They eat what they hunt, which can mean goats, sheep, deer, and moose. Red wolves are known to eat smaller animals such as rabbits, rodents, insects, as well as fruits such as berries.
Wolves mate in late winter, around Valentine’s Day, and the gestation period lasts for nine weeks. A litter consists of 1 to 11 pups. Pups drink mother-milk for 10 weeks and start hunting at about 6 months of age. However, they are not considered full adults until the age of 2.
Before going with fun facts, it’s worth mentioning what’s not fun. As some may have heard, wolves have been feared for centuries, being associated with the devil’s work and killed in large numbers. Obviously, wolves have had and still have much more reasons to fear humans than the other way around. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists red wolves as critically endangered, as there are only between 20 and 80 of them still living in the wilds. The same organization also lists the eastern wolf and the Ethiopian wolf as endangered.
Fun Facts About Wolves Ranked Subjectively and Without Much Thought
20. Wolves, just like dogs, like to chew on bones.
19. Just as dogs, wolves communicate by leaving scent markings (e.g., urine).
18. Wolves have webs between their toes which helps them swim long distances.
17. Wolf packs howl to each other to send territorial messages.
16. Wolves travel as much as 12 miles (12 km) per day.
15. The smallest wolves weigh around 30 lbs (13.6 kg) and live in the Middle East. The largest wolves can reach about 175 lbs (80 kg) and live in Canada, Alaska, and Russia.
14. The heaviest recorded wolf was 174 lbs (79 kg).
13. Greeks once believed that eating meat from a wolf-killed lamb can turn you into some sort of vampire.
12. A wolf pup has blue eyes at birth. Their eyes turn yellow at about 8 months after birth, or about 4 months before their first birthday.
11. Wolves’ eyes glow in the dark due to a light-reflecting layer called tapetum lucidum. This glow may also help wolves see in the dark.
10. Wolves run on their toes, as this helps them to protect their paw pads and to stop and turn easily.
9. Wolf pups eat the food thrown back up from their mother.
8. Wolves’ hearing is about 16 times better compared to the one humans have.
7. A wolf has almost 200 million scent cells and can smell animals from more than 1 mi (1.6 km) away.
6. Wolves have 42 teeth that do a good job in crunching bones and other stuff. A wolf’s mouth is also privileged with a crushing pressure of about 1,500 lbs (680 kg) per square inch.
5. Wolves evolved from an animal called Mesocyon. This species lived about 35 million years ago, had a long body and short legs.
4. Dire wolves really existed until about two million years ago. There is no written record of House Stark.
3. Wolf pups are born deaf and blind.
2. Wolves respond to human howls (!).
1. Wolves do not howl at the mood (!).
Up for Some Research?
There are more fun facts about wolves that aren’t included here, as I have only mentioned my favorites from those I was able to find. Feel free to tell us your favorites or anything else that would add value to our Wolfpedia. Citing sources is more than welcome.
• Live Science: www.livescience.com/
• The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources: www.iucnredlist.org
• National Geographic: media.nationalgeographic.org