Arctic Wolf Pictures



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Arctic Wolves (Canis lupus arctos) also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf is a subspecies of Gray Wolf or Canis lupus. They inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Islands, parts of Alaska and the northern part of Greenland. These territories are some of the most inhospitable areas in the world with temperatures that rarely go above -30C or -22F. Arctic Wolves have gone though some physical adaptations that make it easier to survive in this extreme cold. They have a smaller body than their southern cousins, their ears have decreased in size to reduce heat loss and reduce chance of freezing, they have a shorter snout and their legs are shorter to reduce exposure to frigid air. Their fur has also been adapted to help them survive in the cold. Arctic Wolves have a dual layer coat. The top layer consists of long guard hairs and the under layer is a soft thick downy layer similar to that found in Eider Ducks. This downy layer traps body heat and protects their skin from frostbite.

Arctic Wolves travel in packs from 2 to 20 depending on how much food is in their territory. Their regular prey is usually Caribou and Muskox, but they will also hunt Arctic Hare, lemmings, ptarmigans, seals and waterfowl. Each pack has a large area up 1000 sq. miles and move around following their prey. Wolves do not waste any of their kills and will eat the bones as well. Bones contain marrow which is a great source of fats that produce energy during the cold winter months.

Due to the fact Arctic Wolves live in an area of permafrost or permanently frozen ground it is difficult to dig a den like other wolf varieties. So they Alpha female will look for rock outcropping, caves or depressions in the ground. They usually have 2-3 pups but can have up to a dozen. If depends on scarcity of food in the region. In times of lower available food they will have less pups and in times of high food availability they will have more pups. The pups are born in late May to early June. Like other mammals/thumbnails the pups are born blind and deaf and weigh about a pound. They stay in the den for about three weeks and are dependent on their mother and pack for food, protection and warmth. After about three weeks they start venturing out of the den area and start exploring the world around the den area.

The Arctic Wolves greatest sense is their sense of smell. With their sense of smell they gather a tremendous amount of information. They learn to recognize their pack mates and as pups they learn their mother's smell which is very important in the first couple of weeks when they cannot see or hear. Adults use their sense of smell to locate prey that are too far to see, and mark their territory that borders along other packs territories. The Alpha Male uses smell to judge the Alpha Females state during the breeding season. The next important sense Arctic Wolves have is their hearing. In the open wolves can hear things 10 miles away. Their eye site is also very important to them and like most mammalian predators their eyes are forward on their head which gives them 3D vision with a radius of 180 degrees. Three dimensional vision is very important when trying to judge distance from objects.

All Text and Images Copyright Michael Cummings ©


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