This might go without saying, but here at Stuffed Safari we love animals. Not just the stuffed ones either. Everyone who works here has at least one pet, and most of us have more than one. When we’re not busy selling stuffed animals, we love to learn about the real-life counterparts to the plush toys we sell. We thought that you, our readers, might find it interesting to explore some educational facts about some of our favorite animals too. That’s why we decided to start The Wild Side. It’s a blog series that gives captivating information about some of our favorite animals. This week we will learn about the gray wolf. This post is packed full of gray wolf information.
The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is also known as the timber wolf or western wolf. It is a canine pack predator native Eurasian and North American wilderness. Their roots date all the way back to the Middle Pleistocene. While their populations has seen its fair share of hard times, the gray wolf is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN, and is not considered an endangered species. The wolf is a popular animal icon in literature and entertainment. Stories such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Aesop, Little Red Riding Hood by Gustave Dore, and folk lore stories like The Three Little Pigs are just a few of the examples. It is a common school mascot and sports team name as well.
Gray wolves are the largest member of the Canidae family. Measuring anywhere from forty to sixty inches in length, males can weigh as much as one hundred pounds, females around eighty-five. Depending on their geographical location, gray wolves can be larger or smaller than these average sizes. There have been reports of wolves weighing over one hundred and fifty pounds! As one might guess from the name, their fur typically is mottled gray in color. However mixes of brown, red, white, and black exist as well.
In the winter, these wolves grow a long thick coat of fur to keep them warm and protected from the elements. In the summer, they shed this thick coat for a shorter and thinner one. Wolves, for the most part, look just like dogs, but have a few distinct features. For one, their paws are bigger, and in general they have larger teeth and a longer muzzle.
They are social animals, traveling in packs that, on average, contain between five and eleven animals. In most cases, a mated pair leads the charge and let their offspring fill the rest of the spots in the pack. An example of what most wolf packs look like is one to two adults, three to six juveniles, and one to three yearlings. While most packs are relatively small, packs consisting of as many as forty wolves are not unheard of. Regardless of the size, the pack sticks together. They run, sleep, hunt, and eat together just like a family. The mated pair do run point on hunts while the younger wolves act as backup. That’s why, when it’s time to eat, Mom and Dad get to eat first.
The mother wolves dig dens to care for their newborns, relying on their mate to bring them food, but she doesn’t have to do this for very long. Wolves as young as one and a half months old are agile enough to flee from danger. After a year or so, some of the pack’s offspring will wander out to form packs of their own.
Here’s some gray wolf information that will blow your mind. Unlike several other members of the Canidae family, a wolf’s sense of smell is not as powerful. Hunting dogs have a better sense of smell, and bears even better than them. Wolves, however, have an amazing sense of hearing. Their auditory perception allows them to hear frequencies up to 26 kHz. To break down what that means in practical terms, think of it like this: wolves can hear when a leaf falls from the tree and hits the ground. Yes! Their hearing is that good. The sound of a wolf’s howl can be detected by human ears over a range of fifty square miles.
Wolves howl to alert the pack to danger, announce a hunt, or to locate each other if they find themselves lost or traversing unfamiliar territory. They also have a natural sense of harmony. Rather than emulate the same note in a howl, they choose complimentary tones to augment their chorus, making it seem to outsiders that there are more wolves than there actually are.
The gray wolf is not a picky eater. While it may prefer to hunt fresh prey with its pack, it will eat just about anything. If it finds edible berries in the forest or wanders onto a farm growing melons, a gray wolf will gladly fill its belly. Of course, if this same farm has livestock wandering around, the gray wolf has no trouble picking off the week and feeble among the herd.
When the menu proves scares in the way of fresh food, be it meat or fruit, a gray wolf is not above knocking over a trash can to root around in garbage. Hey, don’t judge! Desperate times call for desperate measures. Gray wolves have a fast metabolism. A single wolf can eat fifteen percent of its own body weight in just a single feeding. Most of the time, the wolves hunt fresh, live prey and hunt it as a pack.
When a wolf smells or spots its next meal, it begins a structured hunting ritual, beginning with stalking its prey. Inching closer and closer, the pack closes in to strike distance from all directions. Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the way wolves hunt is the rush and the chase. You see, wolves will not hunt stationary prey. When a prey holds its ground, a gray wolf will make itself known and try to intimidate its prey into running away. This seems strange because it runs the risk of its meal escaping and it going hungry, but here’s some gray wolf information that will bring some clarity to this tactic.
A gray wolf’s gait, or walk, averages around five and a half miles per hour. When a wolf reaches running speed, it can move as fast as thirty-five miles per hour (faster in some cases). Lots of animals move can move at that velocity or even faster, but where the wolf has the advantage is endurance. A gray wolf can hold a rapid pursuit speed for up to twenty minutes.
If you think that’s cool, you’re going to love this. When a wolf leaps through the air with intent to strike, it can travel up to sixteen feet in a horizontal lunge. To give you a picture of what that looks like, imagine you’re standing on a full-sized basketball court at the edge of the three-point line. Look past the out of bounds line and imagine a wolf running at you full-speed. If the wolf were to initiate its jump under the hoop, it could reach you where you stood in just a single bound. Scary as that might be to think about, just be glad you’re not an elk or a moose.
Gray wolves originated in Eurasia and eventually migrated to North America. Just like their versatile diet, gray wolves can live in a variety of places. Anywhere from deserts, to forests, grasslands, and even frozen tundras. You can find wolves in every remote forested area you can think of spread across three continents. They like to claim large territories spread out over hundreds of square miles, traveling far and wide. This is good for them as it keeps the game for hunting plentiful.
Now, it might sound like we covered everything about the gray wolf, but in reality we have only scratched the surface of the gray wolf information out there. These fascinating wild animals are great in numbers and often studied by wildlife experts.
At Stuffed Safari, we are proud to carry a wide variety of Stuffed Wolves and Plush Wolves. From a tiny clip-on plush toy to a forty-inch life-size ride-on wolf stuffed animal, I think our variety and selection speaks volumes of our love for these breathtaking animals. Take a look at our selection and bring home a wolf plush companion of your very own.
I hope you enjoyed this step into The Wild Side with gray wolf information. Subscribe to our blog to learn about more animals in the future. Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comment section below. And, as always, thank you for reading.