As the largest of the canine family, the Grey Wolf is a keystone predator as they regulate herd animals by taking out the sick and weak. Their main prey are hoofed animals; such as bison, deer, caribou and moose, although occasionally they will catch small mammals too. Grey Wolves are a social animal living on average in packs of 5 to 8 individuals, consisting of a monogamous breeding pair, their young and older offspring. Breeding season is between January and April, followed by a gestation period of up to 63 days. On average the female will have between 6 to 7 pups in the den she dug herself to raise the pups in. For the next 45 days the entire pack will help feed the pups through regurgitation.
Although wolves are not particularly fast, running up to only 28mph, they have extreme endurance that allows them to follow their prey day and night if needed! They mainly rely on their keen senses of smell and hearing to locate their prey. Hunting as a pack allows them to prey on large hoofed animals that an individual would not be able to. The dominant member of the pack will eat first, gorging themselves by eating up to 9 kg in one sitting! Their spine-tingling howl attracts the attention of the whole pack so keeping each other safe, alert and in contact.
Latin name - Canis lupus occidentalis
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Family - Canidae
IUCN Status - Least concern globally but several regions e.g. WesternCentral Alps classified as “endangered”nd and mangrove swamps
Habitat - Wolves can exist in most habitats if there is plenty of prey. They do not exist in rain-forests or real deserts
Distribution - Remote areas of Canada, Alaska, Northern USA, Europe and Asia
8 to 10 years in the wild. 15 years in captivity
Habitat loss, poisoning and hunting.
A wolf’s sense of smell is 100 times better than a human’s and can smell other animals up to 1 mile away!
Our two grey males, Rocky and Chaser, and three sandy blonde females, Aspen, Cedar, and Idaho, are from the same litter born in June 2010 at Colchester Zoo. They are not part of a breeding programme as their bloodline has been bred very successfully in the UK.
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