Gray Wolf

Scientific Name: Canis lupus

Range and Habitat: North America

Size: Up to 7 feet long and 30 inches tall at the shoulder; weighs 50 to 150 pounds, occasionally larger

Life Span: 8 to 16 years; up to 20 years in captivity

Gestation: Approximately 60 days; litters are 5 to 14 young

Wild Diet: Rodents, squirrels, rabbits and larger animals such as deer, elk and moose

Zoo Diet: Carnivore meat diet, bones, mackerel

Habits: The gray wolf is also called a timber wolf. At one time the Gray Wolf was the most widespread mammal, apart from man, outside the tropics. Presently less than 3,000 wild Gray Wolves live in the United States.

Wolves usually live in packs within a specific territory. They usually hunt in packs of up to 24 wolves. To find enough food, their territories range in size from 50 square miles to more than 1,000 square miles, depending primarily on prey density. They can sustain speeds over 20 miles per hour for hours.

Wolf pups are cared for by the entire pack. They depend on their mother’s milk for the first month, then are gradually weaned and fed regurgitated meat brought by other pack members. By 7-8 months of age, the pups begin traveling with the adults. Often, after 1-2 years of age, a young wolf will leave to find a mate and form its own pack.

Wolves are noted for their long “mournful” howl, which can be heard up to six miles away. When a pack howls, all members usually join the chorus.