There are not many animals that can live in the arctic circle. With the cold climate, harsh conditions, and complete darkness it is a hard place to live. Animals have to have special abilities and adaptations. There are many amazing facts you can learn about this species of wolf!
The scientific name for the white wolf is Canis lupus arctos. The white wolf is also known as the arctic wolf and is a unique animal. They are actually a subspecies of the gray wolf. A subspecies is a species right under another species.
The white wolf is also known as the polar wolf or the arctic wolf. They have white coats or white fur which allows them to blend in with the snow and their surroundings. Their white fur makes it easier for them to hunt! Isn’t it cool how they can hide so easily?
Characteristics of an Arctic Wolf
There are many differences between an arctic wolf and other species of wolves like the grey wolves. One of the biggest differences is that white wolves are shorter than other species of wolves. They have shorter muzzles and shorter legs. Arctic wolves also have small ears which helps stop heat loss.
They have sharp teeth and strong jaws to help them tear apart their food. Arctic wolves have a very good sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight. The wolf’s senses help them identify or find their prey easily!
Young Arctic Wolves
When arctic wolves are young, they are known as wolf pups. A litter of wolf pups is normally around 4 to 6 babies. The wolf pups have a gestational period of 63 days. Gestational period is how long the mom carries them before they are born.
Most wolves give birth between late March and early June. The female wolves all help each other take care of the wolf pups.
Young arctic wolves often play with each other and use this playtime to learn skills like pouncing, hunting, and how to act like adult wolves. A wolf pup shows they are playing by having its mouth slightly open. This behavior can also be seen in pet dogs.
What Arctic Wolves Eat
Arctic wolves eat a range of different foods. They will eat smaller animals like arctic hares. They’ll also eat larger prey like caribou, seals, and musk oxen. Sometimes they even eat arctic foxes.
White wolves will travel many miles searching for food supply. Wolves will follow their prey even when they migrate.
An arctic wolf will eat at least 10 pounds of meat per day! But something special about wolves is they often go a few days without eating and then will eat over 20 pounds of meat in one day!
What Eats Arctic Wolves
You won’t believe this, there is only one predator of the arctic wolf! The polar bear is the only animal that will hunt and eat a white wolf. They will often eat a young wolf who wanders into their cave or den.
Humans are also a threat to the arctic wolf but are not considered predators since arctic wolves often do not come in contact with humans often.
Where Arctic Wolves Live
The polar wolf lives in the arctic tundra regions of North America and Greenland. Since it lives in the northern region, it is not threatened by as much hunting, deforestation, or habitat destruction as other wolves.
Since the permafrost or permanently frozen ground prevents white wolves from digging dens, they often live on rocky outcrops. These cold environments are perfect for white wolves. What an amazing animal!
All About Wolf Packs
Packs of wolves are very social animals. By living in packs, they can care for their young, hunt, and protect their territory.
There is a male and female leader of the pack. These wolves are often known as the alpha male and beta female. These two wolves lead the pack and often eat first after a kill. Male arctic wolves are larger than the females and in charge of where the pack moves and hunts. There are other important pack members too.
Natural Enemies of Arctic Wolves
In recent years the biggest threat to the white wolves has been extreme weather variations or changes in weather. These weather changes have made it difficult for some arctic wolves’ prey, such as muskox and arctic hares to find food. This means the population or the number of animals for the wolves to eat has decreased. When the number of prey goes down the wolves have less food. That makes it harder to survive.
The polar wolf is sometimes threatened by industrial development. More and more mines, roads, and pipelines are being built in their territory. Industrial development can cause problems with the wolves’ food chain.
Fun Facts about an Arctic Wolf
Arctic wolves are often hard to find in the wild, so we are still learning about these fascinating creatures every season.
One of the coolest things scientists have learned about arctic wolves is that they use non-verbal body language to communicate. This means they can communicate without using any sort of noises like howls. Arctic wolves will position themselves or put their ears and tails in a certain way to show how they feel about a situation. They even make different facial expressions!
Did you know arctic wolves do not always have thick layers of fur? Their fur is always white to help them blend in. During the winter the outer layers of fur get thicker to keep the wolves warm. The top layer of fur is also waterproof to keep their skin from getting wet from the snow.
Wolf packs can range from 2 members up to 20 members! Arctic wolves are often never alone. If they are it is due to sickness or from them being kicked out of the pack. Getting kicked out of the pack does not happen often.
Interesting Facts about The Arctic Wolf
- An arctic wolf has 42 teeth.
- Wolves are diurnal. They sleep during the night and hunt during the day.
- They howl to communicate with each other.
- Wolves can run at 36 to 38 MPH.
Which of these interesting facts is your favorite?