72 Interesting Facts About Wolves

facts about wolves

Wolves have been adored, hated and everything in between in all of human history. What is it about these fascinating creatures that bring about so many emotions? In this post, you’ll find out and discover the ultimate list of facts about wolves.

Interesting facts about wolves

1. Are wolves dogs?

Yes, all domestic dogs are actually descendants from wolves. This means that every dog we know are actually wolves as well.

2. What are wolves called?

The scientific name of the wolf is “Canis Lupus,” and wolves are also sometimes referred to as “gray wolves” or “grey wolves.”

3. Wolves are large canines.

In fact, wolves are the largest extant members of the Canidae family. Canids is the biological family name of all dog-like carnivorans. these include domestic dogs, foxes, wolves, coyotes and many other extant and extinct species.

4. How big do wolves get?

Male wolves can weigh up to 40 kilos (88 lb) and females up to 37 kilos (82 lb). their average length is between 105–160 centimeters (41–63 in) and if we measure wolves at shoulder height, they can stand on average in between 80–85 centimeters (31–33 in) tall.

5. How many subspecies do wolves have?

In 2005, the standard reference work of mammals called “Mammal species of the world” included 36 wild subspecies for Canis Lupus and 2 additional subspecies, the Domestic dog and the Dingo. So this means a total of 38 subspecies are counted, and this includes the domestic dog.

6. Are wolves social?

Yes, unlike shy cats such as mountain lions, wolves are some of the most social animals on the planet and they always move in packs. They are territorial though and fights between packs can easily break out.

facts about wolves

7. What do wolves eat?

Wolves are carnivores that hunt prey to eat. Most of their diet consists of large hooved animals, but in case of the absence of their favorite menu, they also attack smaller animals, including rabbits and chickens.

8. Are wolves animals in danger?

An early 2000s estimate put the global population of wolves at about 300,000. They are classified as to be of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meaning they are in no way in danger of extinction.

9. Are wolves dangerous?

Wolves are wild animals and can be very dangerous to humans. Most of the cases of attacks on humans are caused by wolves suffering from rabies though. Attacks from healthy wolves are very rare as they have actually developed a fear of humans.

10. Do wolves have a good sense of smell?

Wolves have an amazing sense of smell because they possess over 200 million scent cells. If you compare this with humans, we only possess about 5 million.

11. How does this translate in smelling?

They have 40 times more scent cells, but their sense of smell is over 10,000 times better than that of ours. It’s at least as good as that of a dog and they can smell prey up to 2.4 kilometers (1.5 mi) away.

Wolves facts

12. Where does the word “Wolf” come from?

The etymology of the word “Wolf” can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic word “Wulfaz.” This turned into “Wulf” in old English and has now changed into “wolf.”

13. What is a Red Wolf?

The red wolf is a hybrid type of wolf which is a mix of a Grey Wolf and a Coyote. It is native to the southeastern part of the United States.

14. Do wolves have good hearing?

Wolves have extremely good hearing. They can hear over 16 kilometers (10 mi) away in the open and over 10 kilometers (6 mi) in the forest.

15. Wolves are genetically programmed to become better.

Wolves can live in packs of up to 20 wolves. But surprisingly enough, it’s only the alpha male and female that actually mate. This is the type of natural selection that creates a better and stronger species. Other wolves in the pack will help to take care of the pups.

interesting facts about wolves 16-50

16. Pups of wolves are born blind and deaf and are therefore completely dependant on their mother. Luckily she gets a lot of help from the rest of the pack as well.

17. Wolf gestation only lasts about 60-65 days, after which the mother wolf gives birth to 1-9 pups, with the average being 4. Pups are born in the spring.

18. The mating pair in the pack can produce new pups just about every year if the conditions are good.

19. The eyes of pups of wolves are blue when they are born and turn yellow when they are 8 months old.

20. Ever thought why wolves have a funny walk sometimes, That’s because they run on their toes. This makes them more flexible to make sudden movements and preserves their paw pads.

interesting facts about wolves

21. All types of wolves, including domestic dogs, are descendants of a common type of wolf population that existed as recently as 20,000 years ago.

22. Wolves aren’t too picky when it comes to food and they also aren’t pure carnivores but omnivores. In Europe, wolves eat apples and pears and in North America, they eat blueberries and raspberries.

23. They do love their meat though and they can eat a lot! A wolf can eat over 9 kilos (20 lb) of meat in a single sitting. That’s the equivalent of humans eating about 50 juicy steaks.

24. Wolves are great hunters, but they are better if they aren’t in big numbers. If only a few wolves hunt, their success rate becomes much higher than when the entire pack hunts.

Grey wolf eating meat

25. Wolves have been part of human beings lives for many millennia. In fact, drawings that are over 20,000 years old have been found in caves in Southern Europe depicting wolves.

26. Genes of wolves can be traced back to an animal named “Mesocyon” that lived about 35 million years ago. It was a small dog-like animal that was one of the first canid to become a carnivore.

27. The autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), or lupus is named after the wolf. This can be attributed to a 13th-century doctor who believed the disease was caused by a wolf bite. We know better now but the name is still used.

28. Wolves have an average lifespan of about 13 years. If they are in captivity and well taken care of they can live up to 20 years.

29. Wolves are monogamous animals. If the alpha male and alpha female have found each other in the pack, they will stay together until death does them part.

Wolves facts

30. If this eventually happens and one of the pair dies, they seem to quickly forget about their recently deceased partner and a new partner to mate is found rather fast.

31. Even though it’s rare, wolves that are hunting alone can actually kill a large animal such as a moose, bison, or muskox. The later weighs about 285 kilos on average (630 lb) so that’s about 7 times their size.

32. Wolves have lived in just about any place in the world. They once had the widest range of all living land-predators in the world.

33. Their wide range is one of the reasons they aren’t listed as an endangered species. Their population has shrunk a lot though. A few hundred years ago there were an estimated 2 million wolves living in North America. This estimate is now around 60,000.

34. A lot of work is being done to preserve wild wolves in Eastern Europe and North America. Organizations such as “American Wolf” are protecting the natural habitat of the wolf and various organizations are even reintroducing wolves into the wild or preservation parks.

35. Wolves’ jaws are about twice as powerful as that of a large dog. They are able to produce a pressure of over 100 kilos per square centimeter (1,500 lb per square in).

facts about grey wolves

36. Their jaw is also equipped with the perfect murder weapons, as it contains 42 sharp teeth, perfect for holding on to large prey, tearing it apart and even crushing its bones.

37. Many types of wolves have been extinct. One of the most famous extinct wolf species is the dire wolf (Canis Dirus), a ferocious predator that lived in the Americas between 125,000 and 9,500 years ago.

38. Just to exemplify the power dire wolves possessed, they were actually able to attack and kill a Woolly Mammoth, another extinct animal which was the size of an African Elephant. It must have been an amazing feast for the entire pack every time that happened!

39. Wolves are remarkably good swimmers and can easily cover distances of over 10 kilometers (6 mi) in water if needed. They have little webs between their tows which creates the same effect as wearing flippers.

40. Referring to the mating wolves as “alphas” isn’t exactly correct. They should rather be referred to as the mating wolves aren’t always the most dominant wolves of the pack.

41. Wolves are territorial animals. Their territory, however, isn’t fixed. This means they will mark it and when they move and the marks they made fade away, other packs can move into it. This is referred to as spatial-temporal as opposed to simply spatial territory.

facts about gray wolves

42. Cherokee Indians had a massive respect for wolves and held some special beliefs about them. They wouldn’t, for instance, kill a wolf as they believed the brother of the killed wolf would come back to take revenge. If they accidentally killed a wolf, they believed that the weapon they used wouldn’t be able to protect them anymore.

43. This didn’t apply to people in the Old West though. At the end of the 19th century, wolf killing was very popular in Montana, and it’s estimated that about 80,000 wolves were killed for bounty.

44. When that didn’t suffice, the government actually started a form of biological warfare against wolves by passing a pretty sadistic law. The purpose of the law was to “provide for the extermination of wolves and coyotes.” Wolves would be captured, infected with the highly contagious disease “Mange” and sent back to their pack where they would infect the rest of them. Pretty disturbing isn’t it?

45. But Montana wasn’t the only place wolf-hunting was popular. In the 17th century, Ireland was called “Wolf-land” because of so many wild wolves living there. Hunting and killing wolves as a hobby was especially popular amongst the nobility in those days.

46. Wolves frequently have a negative connotation associated with them. Somebody who is promiscuous is often called a wolf and a money-grabbing sociopath such as the main character in “The Wolf of Wall Street” as well.

The Wolf of Wall Street / Source

47. Even though it’s considered to be a form of adoration, whistling to a woman isn’t always appreciated. This whistle is referred to as a “Wolf Whistle” and is actually made illegal in several countries such as Belgium and France after complaints of several women. One whistle can cost you up to 750 Euros!

48. There is something about wolves and futility. in Ancient Rome, barren women used to go to the festival of Lupercalia in the hope they would become fertile.

49. The magnificent city of Rome was built because of a wolf! At least according to the story of Romulus and Remus. After being abandoned y their uncle, the twins were saved because a she-wolf suckled them in a cave named Lupercal. And yes, the festival was named after this cave as well.

50. In Ancient Greece, wolves received a similar form of adoration. The Greek God of the wind and sun, Apollo was sometimes even called “Apollo Lykios.” This simply means “Wolf-Apollo.”

More interesting wolf facts 51-72

51. Ancient Greece is known for its many temples. One of the most famous ones was the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. The area the temple was built on was referred to as the “Lyceum,” which simply means the “wolf skin.”

52. The representation of the wolf as a sexual predator most probably originates from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, a story that has been told in France and Italy since the dark ages.

wolf and little red riding hood

53. Nobody knows where the story originates from, but one thing we do know about wolves in relation to sexual frustration. Males ranking on the bottom of the pack’s chain often suffer from a form of mental illness that is described as “Psychological castration.” This refers to the fact that only the alpha male is allowed to mate with the alpha female of the pack.

54. We can only guess what animals mean when they make gestures, as they aren’t able to communicate the way we do. Wolves, however, the social animals they are, use a vast number of facial expressions to communicate with each other. This helps them with hunting and maintaining the social order of the pack.

55. Adolf Hitler used to love dogs, even though he had his own dog killed to test the poison he was about to take to kill himself, but that’s a different story. He also loved wolves and sometimes used the alias “Herr Wolf” when referring to himself. Many of his military headquarters had a codename referring to wolves such as “Wolf’s Gulch” (Wolfsschlucht), “Wolf’s Lair” (Wolfschanze), and “Werewolf” (Wehrwolf).

56. According to first-century Roman historian “Pliny The Elder,” Wolves could be helpful for teething babies. All that was required was to rub wolf teeth on the gums of the crying infant to ease the pain and make the crying stop.

facts about wolves

57. The Aztecs living near Machu Picchu used wolf bones to prick the chest of dying people in an attempt to delay death. If they had a bad day, they used to eat wolves’ livers to cure the depression.

58. People living during the Middle Ages also used wolf products to cure certain annoyances. They would use powdered wolf liver to ease the pain during childbirth. They would wrap a wolf bone around somebody’s throat to cure a sore throat, and they would eat dried wolf meat to cure itchy shins. It’s unknown whether or not these home remedies actually helped…

59. Werewolves are another imaginary creation that originates from our fear of wolves. In 1927, a police officer in France was sure he had seen one, but when he pulled the trigger realized he had just killed a little boy. As a result, the government in France subsequently killed all wild wolves in the country.

60. Wolves can run pretty fast as they can reach up to speeds of 55 kilometers per hour (40 mi per hour). Their stamina isn’t the best though when sprinting, but when jogging they can travel an entire day with limited resting periods at a speed of about 8 kilometers per hour (5 mi per hour).

61. Wolves’ eyesight isn’t as good as humans, especially when it comes to colors. They have a remarkable sight at night though and have a light-containing layer on top of their eyes called a “tapetum lucidum.” This makes their eyes glow in the dark.

wolf eyes in the dark

62. Wolves have caused the deaths of hundreds of people in the 17th century during the “Werewolf trials.” These were similar to the infamous “witch trials” which caused thousands of people to be burned at the stake.

63. Doctors in Ancient Rome had quite different methods when it came to curing illness. One of them called Sextus Placitus who lived in the 5th century B.C. had a peculiar way to cure insomnia. Do you have difficulty getting to sleep? Then Sixtus simply told his patients to put a wolves head under their pillow. Problem solved!

64. Vikings wore wolf skins and drank wolf blood before the battle. They also called wolves “hrægifr” which simply means “corpse-trolls.” In general, wolves were beasts of slaughter and always had a negative connotation in Viking mythology and poetry.

65. So what was the first country in the modern world to place the wolves under protection? Germany did so in 1934. Remarkably, the wolf had been extinct from Germany since halfway the 19th century, so it was probably more of an iconic gesture to honor the strong predator.

66. In the United States, wolves were the first animals to have been placed in the endangered species act. This happened in 1973.

67. Wolves are known for their howls, and it’s simply used as a method of communication. The howl of one wolf can be heard up to 10 kilometers far (6 mi).

wolf howling

68. This is one of the most interesting facts about wolves regarding their symbolism. The word for a wolf in Japanese translates to “Great God.”

69. Feeling cold? The people in Siberia surely do! Then a coat made of wolf’s skins will certainly help. That’s the reason, about 7,000 to 8,000 of wolf skins are still traded every year, mainly in China, Mongolia, and Russia.

70. So, how many wolves live approximately in various countries? Here are some facts about wolves populations:

  • Canada: 50,000
  • Alaska: 3,500
  • 48 other United States: 6,500
  • Spain: 2,000
  • Italy: 300
  • Norway: 40
  • Sweden: 40
  • Russia: 70,000

71. Wolves are dangerous for dogs. In several countries, dogs roaming around are killed by them. In Croatia for example, wolves kill more dogs than sheep.

72. Some people keep wolves and crossbreed wolf dogs as pets, but that’s generally not a good idea. Wolves remain wild animals and aren’t used to the constant company of people. They also require vast spaces to exercise which most people don’t have.

wolf facts

With the suggestion to look for a tame, cuddly dog instead of a wolf as your next pet, the ultimate list of facts about wolves ends. Do you know some more facts? Please let us know and we’ll add them straight away!

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