The Arctic Wolf is well known as the white wolf that is not afraid of humans. It is an amazing animal with adaptations that enable it to survive in the extreme weather of the Arctic regions. We have gathered complete set of Arctic Wolf Facts For Kids that will help you in learning All About Arctic Wolves. You are going to learn about its scientific name, classification, appearance, physical description, lifespan, eyes, species, diet, hunting, habitat, range, climate, adaptations, behavior, sense of smell, wolf pack, life cycle, reproduction, baby, endangerment, population, predator, role in ecosystem and many other interesting and fun facts about Arctic Wolves.
Arctic Wolf Facts For Kids
What Is Arctic Wolf
- Arctic wolf is a medium sized subspecies of grey wolf indigenious to the Arctic regions of North America and Greenland.
- It is also known as the polar wolf or white wolf.
- Arctic wolf is clearly distinguishable from the northwestern wolf due to its smaller size, whiter fur, larger carnassial teeth, and narrow cranium (braincase).
- Like its southern relatives, Arctic wolves have isolated habitat range and are not threatened due habitat destruction or hunting.
- The skull size of the Arctic wolf progressively reduced since 1930, which is possibly the result of the wolf-dog hybridization.
Arctic Wolf Scientific Name
- The scientific name of Arctic wolf is Canis lupus arctos.
Arctic Wolf Classification
- The following is the scientific classification or taxonomy of Arctic wolf:
|Sub-species||Canis lupus arctos|
Arctic Wolf Appearance
- An Arctic wolf has a medium body size with 3.2 to 5.9 feet head-to-tail length.
- It has white coat color that resembles the snow.
- It has two coats; a waterproof inner coat that keeps its body dry and a thick, furry outer coat that keeps its body warm.
- It has a narrow skull, short muzzle, and small ears.
- An Arctic wolf has strong jaws. It has 42 sharp teeth especially designed for tearing flesh and crushing bones.
- Arctic wolves have short legs and thick padded paws, which allows them to walk easily on the snow and frozen grounds.
Arctic Wolf Physical Description – Arctic Wolf Characteristics
Arctic Wolf Size
- Arctic wolves have body size from 3.2 to 5.9 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters).
- They have sexual dimorphism and male individuals are usually bigger than females.
Arctic Wolf Weight
- The body weight of Arctic wolves ranges from 31.7 to 79.3 kg (70 to 175 pounds).
Arctic Wolf Height
- The average standing height of Arctic wolves from head to toe is about 3 feet (0.9 meter).
- At the shoulder region, their height may vary from 2 to 2.5 feet (0.6 to 0.7 meter).
Arctic Wolf Length
- The body length (head to tail) of Arctic wolves ranges from 3.2 to 5.9 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meter).
Arctic Wolf Lifespan
- The lifespan of Arctic wolves in the wild is about 7 to 10 years.
- In captivity, they live longer for more than 18 years due to proper availability of food and protection from natural hazards.
Arctic Wolf Eyes
- Arctic wolves have blue color eyes at birth.
- When they grow, the color of their eyes changes to yellow-golden or orange.
- Adult full-grown individuals usually have golden-brown eyes.
Arctic Wolf Species
- Arctic wolf belongs to the species of grey wolf (Canis lupus).
What Do Arctic Wolves Eat – Arctic Wolf Diet
- The Arctic wolf is carnivore in nature and eats the flesh of other animals as its primary diet.
- They usually hunt muskoxen and Arctic hare. However, they also eat caribou, moose, Arctic fox, lemmings, birds, seals, and beetles.
- They are opportunistic and also sometimes scavenge on garbage and carrion.
- Studies show that muskoxen is their primary prey. Because in the presence of abundant muskoxen, Arctic wolves have higher reproduction rate as compared to the higher availability of Arctic hares.
- Another study suggests that the consumption of the two species (muskoxen and Arctic hares) depends on the year and season and it is uncertain how much Arctic wolf relies on the two species.
- Arctic wolves hunt in packs usually to prey on muskoxen or caribou.
- The packs are also known for killing cubs of the polar bear.
- During the winter, they will follow migrating caribou for a large distance.
- In one meal, an Arctic wolf can eat about 9 kg (20 pounds) of meat.
- Large hunts usually last for a few days. Between the meals, all members of the pack take turns to guard carcasse from scavengers.
What Do Arctic Wolves Hunt – Arctic Wolf Prey
- The most common prey of Arctic wolves are:
- Arctic hares
- However, they also hunt other animal species like:
- Arctic fox
- Lemmings and other rodents
Where Do Arctic Wolves Live – Arctic Wolf Habitat
- Arctic wolves are native to the Arctic region of North America and Greenland.
- They spent their whole lives in the Arctic tundra biome.
- A pack of Arctic wolves have a very large territory of about 1,000 square miles (2,500 square kilometers). The size of their territories depends on the availability of food.
- Arctic wolves use caves or outcrops to take shelter, as it is difficult to dig the frozen snowy ground to create a den.
- Many of the Arctic wolf populations live close to the sea to feed on seabirds and seals.
Arctic Wolf Habitat Map
Arctic Wolf Range- Arctic Wolf Location
- The habitat range of the Arctic wolves occurs above the latitudes of 67° North.
- Location of their habitat is:
- Northern parts of Alaska in the United States
- Queen Elizabeth Islands (from Melville Island to Ellesmere Island) in Northern Canada
Arctic Wolf Climate
- Arctic wolf is one of the few mammals that tolerate extremely harsh conditions.
- Climate of their habitat region is extremely cold throughout the air.
- Temperature range in the region is widespread. The month of January is the coldest month of the year, in which the temperature lowers to an average of about -38℃ (-36.4 ℉). The warmest month is July, in which the average highest temperature is about 10℃ (50 ℉).
- The daylight in their habitat also fluctuates highly with the season. Days in the winter are dark and without sunlight while sun does not set in the summer days.
- Most of their habitat region is covered with snow throughout the year.
- The average precipitation is 250mm per year.
What Other Animals Live With The Arctic Wolf
- The following are some of the other animals that share the Arctic wolf’s habitat:
- Arctic hares
- Arctic fox
- Many species of birds (such as Arctic tern, snow goose, and ptarmigan)
- Lemmings and various other types of rodents
Arctic Wolf Adaptations
- The following are the major structural and physiological adaptations of Arctic Wolves, which helps them to survive in the harsh Arctic climate:
Short Muzzle and Ears
- Arctic wolves have short muzzles and small ears as compared to other subspecies of grey wolf.
- This feature reduces the surface area to volume ratio and prevents excessive heat loss through mouth and ears.
Coat Color and Thick Fur
- Arctic wolves have white or light grey coat color, which provides them excellent camouflage.
- They also have a double layer of fur; an inner layer of fine and soft hair and an outer layer of thick long hair.
- The inner layer keeps their body insulated while the outer layer is waterproof and keeps them dry and warm.
- Their fur grows denser during the cold season to provide extra insulation.
- The paw structure of Arctic wolves is also well-adapted to their habitat.
- Their paws have a covering of fur, which acts like snow shows.
- Fur on their paws provides insulation as well as a strong grip when they walk on the snow and frozen slippery surfaces.
Countercurrent Heat Exchange System
- Arctic wolves have a special blood circulation mechanism in their paws that reduce heat loss, as their paws have direct contact with the cold snowy surface.
- In this mechanism, the blood coming to the paws is used to heat up the blood that is leaving.
- In such a way, excessive heat loss is prevented while the paws are also saved from extreme coldness.
- Such mechanism is also found in the feet of penguins and in the legs of Arctic foxes.
Thick Layer of Body Fat
- Arctic wolves have a thick layer of body fat beneath their skin.
- It provides them insulation and also serves as a food reservoir in case of food scarcity.
Arctic Wolf Sense Of Smell
- Wolves have about 100 times greater sense of smell than humans. The smell receptive region in a wolf’s nose is about 14 times greater than a human nose.
- Like other wolves, Arctic wolves also have a keen sense of smell.
- Their scent recognition level is extremely higher, which they use for hunting potential prey.
Arctic Wolf Behavior
- Arctic wolves are social and live in groups known as packs. The number of individuals in a pack varies from five to eight.
- Arctic wolves have very large territories. A pack may have a territory of about 2,500 square kilometers (1,000 square miles) or more. Their territory’s size depends on the availability of food.
- They communicate through signs, smell, behaviors, and sounds.They howl to communicate with other packs. A pack of Arctic wolves is able to compare its size with other packs through hearing the howling of other packs. Small packs move to another region to find food upon hearing the howls of bigger packs. In such a way, they avoid fighting with other packs.
- Arctic wolves are unafraid of humans. In some regions, they can be persuaded to approach humans cautiously and curiously. This behavior is believed to be due to their very rare encounter with humans.
- Arctic wolves migrate during the wintertime to avoid complete darkness of their habitat. The 24 hours darkness of their habitat makes it hard to study their movement. So very little is known about their migration.
Arctic Wolf Pack
- The group of Arctic wolves is known as a pack.
- A pack has 5 to 8 individuals.
- Every pack has a dominant male and female known as alpha male and female. They are the leaders of the pack.
- Sometimes, a pack’s size reaches up to 20 individuals, however, it is uncommon.
- Most of the packs are extended families and composed of a breeding pair and their pups.
- A pack cooperatively hunts large animals.
- All the pack members take care of the pups and protect them from predators and other threats.
- Individuals of a pack use scent and urine to mark its territory’s borders.
Arctic Wolf Life Cycle
- The life cycle of Arctic wolves strats when they attain sexual maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years.
- A mature Arctic wolf leaves its birth pack and establishes its own territory along with its mate or either stays within its birth pack.
- If the size of its birth pack is large, it would have the opportunity of breeding. As in small packs, only the alpha members can reproduce.
- Upon mating, a litter of 2 to 3 pups born after a gestation period of 63 days.
- The lifespan of Arctic wolves is 7 to 10 years in the wild and more than 18 years in captivity.
Arctic Wolf Reproduction
- Alpha male and female breeds only in the pack of Arctic wolves. However, other mates also breeds in large sized packs.
- They are known to remain with only one mate.
- The breeding season of Arctic wolves is from January to March, in which the pairs mates.
- After a gestation period of about 63 days, the females give birth a litter of 2 to 3 pups.
- Arctic wolves use outcrops, caves, or even shallow depressions as a den where the females give birth, as digging the frozen floor is so difficult for them. However, if the frozen snow is not too hard, they will dig a den.
- The birth of pups occurs in late May to early June.
- The pups stay with their mother for about 2 years.
Female Arctic Wolf
- As Arctic wolves have sexual dimorphism, the females have smaller size than males.
- Female Arctic wolves reproduce, feed the pups with their own milk, and take care of them until they become completely mature.
Arctic Wolf Babies – Baby Arctic Wolf – Arctic Wolf Pups
- The babies of Arctic wolves are known as pups or whelps.
- They are born after a gestation period of about 63 days.
- At birth, the pup weighs about 2 to 3 pounds and has dark fur.
- They are blind and deaf at birth and become able to see and hear after 12 to 14 days.
- The pups have blue color eyes that become orange or yellow-golden when they are between 2 to 4 months old.
- As an Arctic wolf is a mammal, the mother feeds the newborns with her own milk.
- After a few weeks, mothers bring small pieces of chewed food to the pups and they start nibbling it.
- The pups stay in their birth den or cave for about 1.5 months along with their mother.
- After 1.5 months, they start to join the pack in their activities and learn skills to survive.
- The pups become full-grown at the age of about 8 months.
- They stay with their mother for about 2 years.
- Pups attain sextual maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years.
- The pups stay generally with the same pack for many years.
Are Arctic Wolves Endangered – Why Are Arctic Wolves Endangered
- No, Arctic wolves are not endangered.
- Due to their isolated habitat, they are not even threatened by hunting or habitat loss.
- Climate change is the greatest threat to their survival. Extreme variations in the weather causes food scarcity for muskoxen and Arctic hares. It causes decline in the populations of these species and so in turn leads to the reduction of the traditional food supply of the Arctic wolves.
Arctic Wolf Conservation Status
- The conservation status of the Arctic wolf on the IUCN Red List is Least Concern.
Arctic Wolf Population
- According to the Cool Antarctica Resources, the total population of the Arctic wolves is estimated as about 200,000 individuals.
Arctic Wolf Role In The Ecosystem
- Like other wolves, Arctic wolves also play a vital role to maintain the health, structure, and balance of the ecosystem.
- They keep the population of prey species in control.
- Their presence affects the behavior and population of their prey and changes their foraging patterns.
- In turn, it affects the plants and animal communities and often causes change in the landscape.
- That is why wolves are described as the keystone species.
Arctic Wolf Predators
- Arctic wolf is itself the apex predator of its habitat.
- Polar bear is the only natural predator of the Arctic wolf.
Arctic Wolf Interesting Facts – Fun Facts About Arctic Wolves
- Arctic wolf is one of the rare examples of animal species that is relatively not threatened by humans. Due to the isolated habitat range, Arctic wolves are not disturbed by urbanization or habitat destruction.
- An Arctic wolf has a special countercurrent heat exchange system in its feet, which prevents its feet from freezing while walking on the snow.
- Arctic wolves born with blue eyes that become brown or golden-brown when they are growing old.
- Arctic wolves are fast and can run at the speed of 40 miles per hour when chasing prey.
- Youngsters of the Arctic wolves eat partially digested food that their mother and other members of the pack regurgitate after hunt.
- In a pack, only the highest ranking members are allowed to reproduce. They are known as the Alpha male and female.
- Like other wolves, packs of the Arctic wolves communicate through howling. They have the ability to compare the size of their own pack with other packs’ sizes by hearing howlings.
- Arctic wolves usually avoid conflicts with other packs and small packs simply move to other regions to find food.