top of page

wolf faqs

  • What is the scientific classification of wolves?
    Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Canidae Genus: Canis Species: lupus (gray wolves) rufus (red wolves) simensis (Abyssinian or Ethiopian wolf; sometimes considered a jackal)
  • How many species of wolves are there in North America?
    Although the taxonomy of wolves has been an ongoing debate in the scientific community, there are two universally recognized species of wolves in the world: the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). Recent genomic research suggests there is a 3rd distinct species, the eastern (Algonquin) wolf (Canis lycaon), which previously considered a subspecies of gray wolf. Click here for more information about Wovles in North America.
  • How many species of wolves are there in the world?
    Although the taxonomy of wolves has been an ongoing debate in the scientific community, there are two universally recognized species of wolves in the world: the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). Recent genomic research suggests there is a 3rd distinct species, the eastern (Algonquin) wolf (Canis lycaon), which previously considered a subspecies of gray wolf. Additional genetic research suggests there may be yet another other species of wolves in the world, the Ethiopian or Abyssinian wolf (Canis simensis). Due to the complex nature of using molecular genetics to distinguish species, it will take some time to reach solid answers for this question. Click here for more information about Wolves around the World.
  • What are the subspecies of the gray wolf in North America?
    There are between 4-5* subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in North America. Canis lupus arctos - arctic wolf Canis lupus baileyi - the Mexican wolf or lobo Canis lupus nubilus - the Great Plains or buffalo wolf Canis lupus occidentalis - the Canadian or Rocky Mountain wolf Canis lupus lycaon - the eastern or Algonquin wolf. *(Some scientists believe this wolf is a separate species, Canis lycaon) * Click here for more information about Wovles in North America.
  • What are the difference between red wolves and gray wolves?
    The red wolf and gray wolf are two seperate wolf species. Gray wolves are larger than red wolves, which average between 45 -80 lbs. Unlike the diverse coat colors seen in gray wolves, red wolves tend to be brown and tan with back along their back. Although the red wolf hunts dear, most of its prey are smaller animals than the ungulate prey of gray wolves. Additionally, gray wolves are found around the world in the northern hemisphere, while red wolves are native to America's southeast regions.
  • What is a wolf pack?
    A wolf pack is a cohesive family unit that is usually made up of a breeding pair or parents and their offspring of different ages. It is not uncommon for unrelated wolves to join a family or pack. The size of a wolf pack is highly variable due to prey availability, birth of pups, dispersal, and mortality. The Druid Peak Pack in Yellowstone National Park was once reported to have over 30 members. However, large packs are unusual and not necessarily an advantage. More pack members means more food must be obtained. Wolf packs are generally largest in the fall, when pups are strong enough to hunt with the adults. During winter, some wolves may disperse or die, so the pack size is usually smaller by spring. Click here for more information on Wolf Packs
  • What does "alpha wolf" mean?"
    The term "alpha" is used to describe the parent wolves (usually unrelated) in a pack (packs will have an alpha male and alpha female). Although “alpha” is still widely used, most scientists believe that "breeding pair" or "pack parents" are more accurate terms. It is important to note that in some cases, the parents may have passed, so the "breeding pair" will be an adult sibling with an unrelated mate. Wolf pack social structure is highly complex and can differ from the standard definitions. Wolves are eusocial animals. This means wolf packs are social groups consiting of overlapping generations that display a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups, which both participate in rearing and caring for pups. Eusociality usually creates a behavioral heirarchy within the group. Click here for more information on Wolf Packs
  • Is there such thing as a lone wolf?
    Wolves are incredibly social animals that live in packs or family units. called packs. Every pack will be unique but most consist of a breeding pair and their offspring of different ages. Between 2 and 3 years of age, most males and some female offspring will leave their pack to start their own pack. Disperser or "lone" wolves will often live alone for days or weeks, sometimes longer, searching for a mate. If unsuccessful, they will return to their pack or sometimes die. Click here for more information onWolf Packs
  • How often do wolves breed?
    Wolves breed once a year, coming into estrus as early as late January and ending sometime in March. The gestation period for wolves is about 63 days (same as with dogs). Pups are born in April or early May. Click here for more information on Wolf Reproduction.
  • How many pups are born in a wolf litter?
    Pups are usually born in April or early May. The average litter size for gray wolves is 4 to 6 pups, and different environmental factors can determine the litter size. Wolf pups weigh about a pound when they are born and are blind and deaf. and depend upon their mother for warmth. By two weeks old, their eyes are open, and by three weeks old, they are moving about and exploring. Wolf pups grow rapidly; by 6 months old, they are almost as tall as the adults. Click here for more information on wolf breeding and pup development.
  • How big are wolves in North America?
    The average sizes of a wolves varies between subspecies of gray wolf. Males of a subspecies are generally larger than their female counterparts. Male gray wolves in Northern Minnesota are between 70 and 110 lbs on avergae and females are between 50 and 90 lbs in average. While Male wolves in Canada and the northern Rocky Mountain states average 85 to 115 lbs and females between 70 and 95 lbs on average.
  • How big was the largest wolf in the world?
    To our knowlegde, the largest wolf ever recorded was a male gray wolf who was 172.4 lbs (shot dead in northwestern Bulgaria, 2007). In Yellowstone National Park, the largest gray wolf was also a male and weighed in at 148 lbs (2011).
  • How long do wolves live?
    Inside National Parks, such as Yellowstone, and other protected lands, wolves live between 5-7 years on average. Although there are several documented cases of wolves living long than this. Life is difficult in the wild, and fatal injuries are common when taking down large prey. Outside of protected lands, where hunting and trapping is allowed, wolves in America live 3.5-4 years on average. The average lifespan of the Seacrest Wolves is about 16 years old.
  • What do wolves eat?
    Wolves are carnivores and primarily prey on ungulates, which are large hoofed mammals (deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison, musk oxen, etc.). Smaller mammals, such as snowshoe hares, can also be a secondary food source. Wolves have also been observed catching fish in the northern most regions of North America. Wolves are biologically able to gorge, meaning they will eat a huge amount of meat in a single sitting (uo to 20 lbs) but then can go for up to weeks without food. Click here for information on wolf hunting behaviors.
  • How many teeth do wolves have?
    Adult wolves have 42 teeth that are highly specialized. Their canine teeth can be up to 2.5 inches long and are made to puncture and grip their prey. Their incisors (smaller front teeth) are perfectly designed to nip meat off the bone. Wolves carnaissial teeth are sharp enough to cut through meat like a knife, and their molars are ideal for grinding and crushing bone.
  • How strong is the bite of a gray wolf?
    The gray wolf has the strongest bite pressure of any canid, reaching up to 1200 lbs/square inch (PSI). Muscles that control a wolf's jaw are enough to bite through bones.
  • How fast can a wolf run?
    Wolves can run at top speeds averaging from 35-38 mph while chasing prey. These bursts of maximum speed are usually short, however, wolves pursue their running prey for long distances, over rough terrain. When wolves are not hunting, they will travel very long distances by trotting at an average of 5 mph.
  • Why do wolves howl?
    Howling is a form of communication between wolves over long distances. Wolves are able to hear another howl up to 10 miles away in open terrain. Wolves will howl to locate pack members, to advertise their claim to a territory, to warn other packmates of danger, and to communicate a variety of other feelings and messages. Much like each human has their own distinct voice, each wolf has a unique howl .When every pack member howls together, the harmony of their individual howls makes it sound as though the pack is larger than it is. Click here for more details about Wolf Communication.
  • What is an Ambassador Wolf?
    An Ambassador Wolf is a wolf that works to inspire our guest and teach them about the importance and true nature of wolves. At Seacrest Wol Preserve, the Ambassador Wolves are socialized by staff and volunteers starting at a very young age. Although the Seacrest Ambassador Wolves will never be "free" we do work hard every day to give them the best life possible, as well as our endless gratitude for helping our guests better understand wolves.
  • Are wolves dangerous to humans?
    No. Wolves will try to avoid humans in most every situation. In the last 75 years, wolves have killed 2 humans in North America. It should be noted that when wild animals become habituated to people, they lose their fear of humans, especially when fed by humans. Wolves are a predator and are capable of killing people. No one should EVER approach a wolf or any other wild animal and you should always take all necessary precautions to prevent mishaps involving wildlife.

Science is both a body of knowledge and the process of acquiring new knowledge. Advances in technologies and integration of new information into existing information causes scientific findings to be constantly evolving and ever changing.  

Wolf biology and research is no exception. With advances in genetics and sophisticated technology, researchers are discovering more about wolves every year. However, there is still much about this complex and intelligent species that remains a mystery. 

This page focuses on providing short answers to some frequently asked questions about wolves. Please keep in mind that scientific papers and articles have been written about each of the questions below. 

bottom of page
Book Now