Wolves – Loved and Feared
Are you fascinated by wolves? Are you also a little frightened of them? For thousands of years, humans have loved, feared and even hated wolves. By learning more about them, we can learn to appreciate them, rather than fear them.
Quick Facts about Wolves for Kids
- All the wolves in a pack help take care of the pups and each other.
- Cubs bond with their families when they are babiesand keep these bonds until they are old enough to make their own families.
- All wolves howl. We’re not sure exactly why they howl, but scientists think wolves howl to scare other wolves away and to communicate to others members within their pack.
- Wolves are top predators in the wild and are related to dogs.
- Wolves are carnivores. They eat everything from deer and mooseto rabbits and mice. They work in teams to hunt large animals, but can hunt small animals on their own if they need to.
- Wolves can run up to 38 miles per hour if they are hunting or running away from something dangerous. Usually they trot at slower speeds closer to 5 miles per hour.
- Wolves have been known to travel up to 100 miles in one day.
- Wolves live in many parts of the world. Gray wolves and red wolves live in the United States.
Wolves are actually a lot like humans. For starters both wolves and humans are mammals, meaning we belong to the same kingdom of life.
All mammals share certain traits that are not usually seen in other types of animals, such as having hair or fur, having backbones, giving birth to live young as opposed to laying eggs, and being warm-blooded.
The most unique trait about mammals is their ability to create milk to feed their young.
Like people, wolves also live in close families, called packs, for their whole lives. A pack has a female and male leader, much like a mom and dad. These two wolves are called the “alphas” because they are the leaders of the pack.
The alphas are also the only ones that have babies. They keep order, direct hunting trips, and resolve fights. Does that sound a bit like your parents?
Each year, the alpha couple will produce one litter of pups, usually with 4 to 6 babies. Wolf mothers give birth to their pups in a den, where they will stay for about a month to nurse their babies.
These mommas do not even leave the den to eat, so other members of the pack will bring them food. When pups are first born, they are blind, deaf, and defenseless, so it is important that they stay hidden and tucked away until their senses develop a bit more and they are able to at least run away from danger.
Other than the brief time after mothers give birth, wolves do not live in dens. Instead, they sleep outside on the ground.
The other wolves living in the pack are most often the alpha’s older pups, but can also be their brothers or sisters. This would be like if you had an aunt or uncle that lives with you and your family.
Most often, a pack has 6 to 8 wolf members, but it can be as small as 2 wolves, or as big as 30 or more wolves! This family unit works together to find food, take care of each other, and protect their territory.
The youngest pups will join the pack in hunts when they are about 8 months old. Before then, the other members of the pack do all of the hunting and will share with the younger members.
Wolves stay with their the pack of their mother and father (the alphas) until they are 2 to 3 years old. Then, they are old enough to start their own pack families, so they “move out” to find a mate.
Wolves are carnivores, meaning they eat mostly meat, but sometimes they will also eat apples, berries, and other fruits and veggies that are available. The majority of their food is made up of meat though.
This big family will usually hunt together to take down animals big enough to feed everyone, like a moose, deer, elk, and bison. When big prey is hard to find, wolves will also hunt smaller animals like rabbits, foxes, squirrels, and even mice.
Wolves love to play, but you probably wouldn’t want to join their antics. They knock each other down and nip and bite each other – sort of like wrestling with your parents or siblings, but a lot rougher.
This play is meant to help them learn important skills they will need to survive, like fighting off wolves from other packs, hunting, and bonding with each other.
Wolves communicate with each other in many ways. They use their urine to mark their territory and tell other wolves what is theirs and so they can find their way home. They make noises like howling, barking, and whimpering that other wolves can hear from up to 10 miles away!
They also communicate with body language. When they are playful, they will bow down and wag their tail just like your dog! If they are feeling angry, threatened, or defensive, they will snarl and growl to let others know they are prepared to fight.
Wolves are top predators in the wild. With sharp teeth, big heavy bodies, and their pack mates, there is not much that can take them down. Even a bear or a mountain lion doesn’t stand a chance against a whole pack of wolves!
The greatest threat to wolves are humans. People have hunted wolves nearly to extinction in some places in the world. Now, there are some laws to protect them, but many are still hunted in places where there are higher numbers of wolves.
They are also at risk of losing their habitats as humans spread out and develop the wild lands that wolves usually live on.
- Alphas: The leaders of the pack
- Pack: A wolf family or group
- Antics: Silly behavior, tricks
- Carnivore: Animal that eats meat
- Den: A lair or small home for a mother wolf and her newborn pups
Learn More All About Wolves
Check out this amazing video all about wolves:
A video documentary about the truth of the lives of wild wolves and their pack.
Wolf Questions & Answers
Question 1: Are wolves endangered?
Answer 1: Wolves were hunted and killed almost to the point of extinction in the United States. In fact, the red wolf was extinct, except for a few that lived in reserves. Today, wolves are returning to forests and mountain areas in the U.S.
Question 2: Are wolves bigger than dogs?
Answer 2: That depends on the dog, but wolves are as big, or bigger than most dogs. Male wolves weigh between 70 and 110 pounds, while females weigh 60 to 80 pounds.
Question 3: Do wolves hunt together?
Answer 3: Yes wolves hunt in their family groups known as packs.
Question 4: Do wolves go into hibernation?
Answer 4: No, wolves do not hibernate.They are active all year around.
Question 5: How much meat does a Gray wolf eat?
Answer 5: The gray wolf will need to eat at least 2.5 pounds of meat to survive and at least 7 pounds to enable them to reproduce pubs. Wolves can go days without food so when prey comes along they will devour what they can. A large grey wolf can eat up to 22 pounds during one meal.
Question 6: How many different species of wolves are there in North America?
Answer 6: There are two different species of wolves in North American – The Gray Wolf and the Red Wolf.
Question 7: Is the gray wolf bigger than the red wolf?
Answer 7: Yes the gray wolf is the bigger of the two.
Question 7: How fast can a wolf run?
Answer 7: Wolves are very fast over short distances, they can run at a whopping 35 mph. A wolf can travel long distances, up to 100 miles in a day, but when doing so they average about 5 mph.
Question 8: How many pubs can a wolf have in one litter?
Answer 8: Generally 4 to 6 pubs in a litter.
Question 9: How often do wolves breed?
Answer 9: Wolves only breed once per year between the months January and March.
Question 10: How long do wolves live in the wild?
Answer 10: A wolf in the wild can live on average 8 – 10 years but a wolf has a very difficult life from the very start. They have to survive harsh winters, starvation, and unfortunately hunters.
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Tobin, Declan. (2021). Wolf Fun Facts for Kids. Easy Science for Kids. Retrieved from https://easyscienceforkids.com/all-about-wolves/
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