Size:††††††††††††††††††† 4 to 5 feet in length, average weight 75 to 95 lbs.
Offspring:††††††††††† 4 to 6 pups.
∑ The Arctic wolf is also known as the white wolf.
∑ There are approximately 200 wild Arctic wolves left in the world, and 50 in captivity.
∑ Native American cultures have great respect for the wolf and its abilities.
∑ Cree Indians call wolves Mah-eh-coon, and believe that when the Northern lights shine, heavenly wolves visit the earth.
∑ Members of a wolf pack are very affectionate with each other.
The Arctic wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. Despite their reputation, wolves rarely attack people and are more likely to run away when they spot one. Theyíre extremely social animals who live and hunt in packs. The strongest male of the pack is the leader, known as the alpha male, and his mate is the alpha female. Packs are usually made up of the children of the male and female alpha wolves, but occasionally other relatives or even unrelated wolves will join. Wolves howl to maintain contact with the rest of the pack. They prey on caribou and musk ox, chasing after a herd and biting at the legs of a slower (a sick, old or juvenile) member. Wolves donít run great distances, and if they donít catch a herd member within about 1,000 yards, they often donít continue the chase. Pack size varies from an average of two to fifteen wolves, but sometimes as many as thirty. The wolf pack may travel up to 800 square miles in their search for food. If musk ox or caribou are not available, arctic wolves prey on lemmings and arctic hare.
Arctic wolves live in the harsh Arctic tundra, with winter temperatures that can dip as low as Ė73įC during the period when there is up to five months continual 24-hour darkness. The climate is harsh and these wolves are constantly on the move, searching out food. Because survival of this wolf subspecies is precarious, various sanctuaries have been set up to care for orphaned and injured Arctic wolves, including the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota and the White Wolf Sanctuary in Tidewater, Oregon.
Courting begins when wolves reach the age of one or two, and lasts for a year before any mating occurs. Mating season for Arctic wolves is in March. Although wolf packs have a summer and a winter den, the pack digs a special den, usually of the burrow of another animal, enlarging upon it when the times comes for the alpha female to give birth. Gestation is 60 to 70 days and the newborns are tiny and helpless. Their eyes open in approximately two weeks and they become very playful, biting and jumping on their parents and siblings, who are extremely affectionate with the youngsters and will play with them, giving them a gentle nip if they get too rowdy. The pack members bring back food for the pups when they begin to eat solid food at the age of one month, and also baby-sit for the mother when she goes out to hunt. Between eight to ten weeks, the pups make their first appearance outside the den. Between one and two years, young wolves leave the pack to find a mate and to start their own pack. The life span of a wolf in the wild is ten to thirteen years, and seventeen years in captivity.