Le Loup : Lieu de Vie, Alimentation, Comportement en Meute et ses Origines

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The Wolf: Place of Life, Diet, Behavior in Packs and its Origins

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With their piercing stares and breathtaking howls, wolves inspire both adoration and controversy around the world. The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is the best known of all , but did you know that it is also the most widespread large land mammal on the planet after humans and cattle. So find out how many wolf species there are, their characteristics, how the continental US wolf population nearly disappeared, and many more surprising and interesting wolf facts.

Gray Wolf Plush

1) The Gray Wolves in 10 Seconds TOP CHRONO

  • COMMON NAME: Gray wolf, timber wolf, wolf
  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Canis lupus
  • DIET: Carnivorous 🥩
  • SIZE: 90cm to 1m60 in length (head and body); 30 to 50 cm in tail length and about 76 cm at the shoulder
  • WEIGHT: 18 to 80 kg
  • LIFESPAN: 8 to 13 years (6 to 8 years in the wild)
  • HABITAT: Varied forests of Europe, North America (Alaska, northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin, western Montana, northern Idaho, northeastern Oregon and the Yellowstone region of Wyoming) and from Asia
  • POPULATION: 17,000 in the United States

Grey Wolf

2) Physical Description of the Wolf

The wolf, one of two species of wild dog-like carnivores 🐶. It is the largest member of the Canidae (dog) family . The gray wolf looks a lot like a large German Shepherd dog, with pointed ears and a long, bushy, black-tipped tail.

The colors of the wolf's coat vary from white to gray and from brown to black; most have a mix of colors with tawny facial markings and underparts. Northern wolves are often larger 💪 than southern wolves, and males are generally larger than females.

Wolf and Wolf in the Snow

3) Where Do Wolves Live in the World?

A- Its Former Habitat

With the exception of man and lion, the gray wolf once had a wider distribution than any other land mammal , spanning all of North America, from Alaska and arctic Canada south to in central Mexico, and over all of Europe and Asia above 20° north latitude.

It lived in all types of habitat, except the most arid tropical forests and deserts 🏜, and it was the first hunter of large hoofed mammals . Several subspecies occur in North America, Eurasia and Africa; however, classifications disagree on the number of wolf subspecies.

Wolf in the Snow in Canada

B- The Current Place of Life of this Wild Canine

At one point or another, the gray wolf has traversed almost every type of environment north of the equator, from deserts to tundra 🏞, but it has been hunted to near extinction wherever it has been find. Today, it still inhabits large areas of the northern hemisphere (North America, Europe, and Asia). The Ethiopian wolf , (Abyssinian wolf, C. simensis) inhabits the highlands of Ethiopia; until recently it was considered a jackal.

In the ecosystems where they are present, wolves are a key species : They have a great influence on their environment despite their low abundance. Gray wolves exert control over their prey, altering the numbers and behavior of large herbivores 🌱 like deer (which are now overabundant in many places), eventually affecting even vegetation. Because of this important role, wolves take center stage in rewilding projects.

Ethiopian Wolf

The gray wolf is an extremely adaptable species and is one of the animal species that survived the last ice age 🏔. The physical characteristics of the gray wolf allowed it to adapt quickly to the harsh conditions of the Ice Age, and its cunning and adaptation helped it survive in a changing environment.

4) The Diet of the Wolf

A- What are its prey?

Wolves move and hunt mainly at night 🌙. They typically prey on large ungulate herbivores (hoofed mammals) such as deer , elk , elk , moose, bison , bighorn sheep , caribou , and musk oxen , which they chase, seize and shoot to the ground.

Gray Wolf Fishing and Eating a Salmon

The gray wolf also feeds on small mammals such as hares 🐇 and beavers . Wolves in western Canada consume and even fish Pacific salmon or birds , lizards , snakes, and fruit . Wolves are also scavengers and eat the flesh of animals killed by other predators, by motor vehicles...

A large percentage of animals killed by wolves are young, old or in poor condition. After killing an animal, the pack gorge themselves (consuming around 3-9 kg per animal 😋) and linger, often reducing the carcass to hair and a few bones before heading off in search of another meal. When wolves find plenty of food or hunt successfully, they eat their fill. A single wolf can consume up to 10 kg of meat at one time.

To find out even more about what it eats, you can read this article which explains the wolf diet in detail.

Pack of Wolf Hunting a Bear

B- The Wolf and the Cattle

Wolves can kill livestock and dogs when given the opportunity, but many wolves that live near livestock rarely, if ever, kill them. The number of animals 🐣 killed in North America is small, but increasing as wolves expand their range.

For example, during the 1990s, average annual wolf losses in Minnesota ( USA ) were 72 cattle, 33 sheep 🐑, and 648 turkeys, plus a few individuals of other types of livestock. Livestock losses are highest in Eurasia. In some areas, wolves only survive by killing livestock and eating livestock carrion and human waste. Nevertheless, wolves generally avoid contact with humans.

Patou who protects the sheep

5) Wolf Predators and their Longevity

Wolves have few natural enemies other than humans 🧍‍♂️ . They can live up to 13 years in the wild, but most die well before that age. Diseases and parasites that can affect wolves include canine parvovirus, distemper, rabies, blastomycosis, Lyme disease, lice, mange, and heartworm.

In most parts of the world, humans are the main killer of wolves . In areas with high wolf densities and declining prey populations, the main causes of mortality are killing by other wolves and starvation.

Man Eating Meat with Wolves

6) The Behavior of Canis Lupus

A- Behavior and Organization of the Pack

The gray wolf is a social animal that is renowned for its extensive travels. They usually live and hunt at night and in packs of two dozen individuals, but packs of 6-10 members are most common. They are known to often travel long distances, up to 20 km 🏃‍♀️ or more in a single day. These social animals cooperate to hunt their favorite prey such as large animals such as deer, elk and moose.

Each individual has their own personality. The ability of wolves to form strong social bonds with each other is what makes the wolf pack possible. A hierarchy 👑 of dominance is established within the pack, which helps maintain order. The strict hierarchy that wolves in the pack follow is made up of a dominant male and female at the top.

Wolf Pack

The Alpha couple 🐺 continuously impose themselves on their subordinates and guide the activities of the group. The female predominates in roles such as caring for and defending the young, while the male predominates in the foraging and movement associated with these activities. Both sexes are very active in attacking and killing prey, but during the summer hunts are often conducted alone.

Usually the Alpha male and female are usually the only two wolves in the pack that breed 🔞 . All adult wolves in the pack help care for the cubs by providing them with food, giving them instructions, and protecting them.

Alpha Wolf Couple

B- The Territories of the Packs

The territory of a pack can range from 80 to 3,000 square km , depending on the abundance of prey, and it is vigorously defended against neighboring packs. Wolves communicate with each other through visual cues (facial expression, body position, tail position), vocalizations, and scent marks.

Howling helps the pack stay in touch and also seems to strengthen social bonds between pack members. In addition to howling, marking territory with urine and feces lets neighboring packs know not to interfere. Intruders are often killed 🦴 by the resident packs, but under certain circumstances they are accepted.

Pack of Wolves Running in the Snow

C- Communication and Howls

Gray wolves have a complex communication system that includes a wide range of barking, whining, growling and howling 📣. Their breathtaking howl which is legendary and iconic is one of the means of communication between the Gray Wolves.

A lone wolf can howl to get the attention of its pack, while wolves in the same pack can howl together to establish their territory and declare it to other wolf packs. Howls can also be confrontational or just like domestic dogs 🐕‍🦺 barking, wolves can simply start howling to respond to the howls of other nearby wolves.

Night Howling Wolf

7) Some Surprising Facts about the Wolf

  • It is believed that wolves were first tamed in East Asia around 15,000 years ago.
  • Wolves can go more than a week without eating 🍴 .
  • A wolf pack consists of two or more wolves that have a defined territory .
  • Wolves were domesticated thousands of years ago, and selective breeding produced dogs 🦮 .
  • In Canada, beach wolves swim between islands , eating crabs, clams, and other small morsels.

Wolf swimming in water

8) Reproduction and Offspring of the Gray Wolf

A- The Birth of the Baby Wolf

Breeding takes place between February and April and a litter of five or six young are usually born in the spring after a gestation period of about two months. The cubs are born blind 👀 usually in a den consisting of a natural hole or burrow, often on the side of a hill. At birth , baby wolves weigh only about 400 grams.

A crevice in the rock, a hollow tree trunk, an overturned stump or an abandoned beaver lodge can also serve as a den, and even a depression under the lower branches of a conifer can sometimes suffice. All members of the pack care for the young with care . After being weaned from breast milk at six or nine weeks, they are fed regurgitated meat.

Baby Wolf

B- Cub Scouts

Throughout the spring and summer, Cubs are the center of attention as well as the geographic focal point of pack activity. After a few weeks, the cubs are usually moved from the den to a surface "hangout" where they play and sleep 💤 while the adults hunt. The pups grow rapidly and are moved farther and more often in late summer.

In the fall 🍁, the pack starts to travel on its territory again and the little ones have to keep up . By October or November, most young have almost reached adult size. After two or more years in the pack, many seek out a mate, establish new territory, and eventually start their own pack.

Cub Scouts

Those who stay with the pack can eventually replace a parent to become a breeding animal (alpha). Large packs seem to result from fewer young wolves leaving the group and litters being produced by more than one female. We know that wolves who leave their pack travel up to 886 km 🛣.

9) The Anatomy of the Wolf

The wolf is built to travel. Its long legs, large feet, and deep but narrow chest suit it well for life on the move. Its keen senses, its large canines 🦷, its powerful jaws and its ability to pursue its prey at 60 km/h make the wolf an ideal predator .

Wolf's Head at Night

A typical northern male can be around 2 meters long 📏 , including the half meter long bushy tail. With a height of 76 cm at the shoulder , it weighs about 45 kg, but its weight varies from 14 to 80 kg (depending on the geographical area). Females are on average 20% smaller than males.

The largest wolves are found in west-central Canada , Alaska, and throughout northern Asia. The smaller ones tend to be found near the southern end of their distribution (Middle East, Arabia and India). The fur on the upper body, although generally gray, can be brown, reddish, black or whitish, while the underside and legs are usually yellow-white. Light-colored or white-colored wolves ⚪ are common in arctic regions.

Wolf with White Fur

10) Other Wolf Species

A- The Red Wolf

The red wolf is fawn, reddish 🔴 or black. It reaches a length of about 105-125 cm, not including the tail, which is 33-43 cm long and weighs about 20-37 kg. It was once considered a separate species of wolf, but studies have determined that the red wolf is a hybrid between the gray wolf and the coyote (sometimes called prairie, scrub, or lesser wolf), over 75% of the red wolf's ancestry from coyotes.

Some experts, however, continue to classify the red wolf as a separate species, while others classify it as a subspecies (C. lupus rufus) of the gray wolf. The red wolf is considered one of the most endangered types of wolves ⚠ . Its former range extended from the southeastern United States west to Texas.

Red Wolf

After its extinction in the wild in 1980, captive-bred red wolves were reintroduced to coastal North Carolina. A small population of less than 100 individuals has become established, but the population is threatened by continued hybridization with coyotes .

B- The Eastern Wolf

The eastern wolf, native to eastern North America, closely resembles the gray wolf , both in size and color. Long considered a subspecies of the gray wolf with the taxonomic name C. lupus lycaeon, the eastern wolf was recognized as a unique wolf species 👩‍🔬 (C. lycaeon) in the early 21st century. However, as with the red wolf, evidence supports the idea that eastern wolves are hybrids of gray wolves and coyotes; their ancestry has been traced through contributions made by both species in roughly equal proportions.

eastern wolf

C- The Ethiopian Wolf

The Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis), a critically endangered species , resembles the coyote. It lives in a few isolated grassland and heathland areas at high altitudes in Ethiopia 🌍. Although they live in packs, wolves hunt rodents and other small mammals on their own.

Ethiopian Wolf Hunting

D- Falkland Islands and Antarctic Wolf

Genetic evidence suggests that the now extinct Falkland Islands wolf, or Antarctic wolf (Dusicyon australis), split from North American wolves around six million years ago ⏳. Although the Isthmus of Panama, which enabled canid migration to South America, was not formed until 2.5 million years ago, D. australis somehow succeeded in another to reach the Falkands.

Falkland Islands wolf (Antarctic wolf)

E- Direwolf

The dire wolf (C. dirus) was common in western North America during the Pleistocene era, but is now extinct ☠️. It was the largest known wolf, again being twice as large as the modern gray wolf .

Dire Wolf

F- Yet Other Species

Other animals are also called “wolves” but do not belong to the genus Canis 🔬 , such as the maned wolf , the American wolf and the Tasmanian wolf (also called Marsupial wolf or Tasmanian tiger).

Maned Wolf and Tasmanian Wolf

11) Population and Conservation of the Wolf

A - Population

Wolves are the largest members of the dog family. Adaptable gray wolves are by far the most common and were once found throughout the northern hemisphere. They are probably more popular today than at any other time in history. In 1995, wolves from Canada 🇨🇦 were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and Idaho, and captive-bred Mexican wolves (a subspecies) were released into their former range in the east. of Arizona from 1998.

Gray Wolf in a National Park

At the start of the 21st century, an estimated 65,000 to 78,000 wolves inhabited North America. Canada had the largest population (although the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island had no wolves), followed by Alaska and Minnesota. Some of the western states as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, Europe and Asia have smaller but recovering wolf populations 😃.

B- Level of Legal Protection of the Gray Wolf

Canadian wolves are only protected in provincial parks, while all wolves in the United States have some level of legal protection 🎓 from federal and state governments. Populations in southern Europe and Scandinavia are relatively small, but increasing. The Eurasian population probably exceeds 150,000 and is stable or increasing in most countries, and most of them offer the wolf some degree of legal protection.

Legal Protection of the Wolf

Worldwide, wolves still occupy about two-thirds of their former range . Although often considered a wild animal, the wolf can and does thrive in close proximity to humans when not excessively persecuted and food is available. Few gray wolves survive in Europe, but many live in Alaska, Canada, and Asia.

C- State of Conservation of the Wolf

Gray wolves have a conservation status of least concern, which means there is a large and stable population . Wolves were successfully reintroduced ✅ to Yellowstone National Park and parts of Idaho in 1995. They have naturally recolonized parts of their former range, moving into Washington and Oregon. In 2011, a lone male wolf traveled to California. There is now a resident pack in this area.

california wolf

In the Great Lakes region 🗻, gray wolves are now thriving in Minnesota, Michigan and now Wisconsin. One of the challenges with expanding gray wolf populations is that people continue to fear wolves, many farmers and ranchers view gray wolves as a threat to livestock, and hunters want the government to declare the open gray wolf hunt to keep them from preying on game like deer, elk, and moose.

By the mid-1930s, most gray wolves in the United States had been killed and reduced to a minimum. Today, the gray wolf's range in North America has been reduced to Canada and parts of Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The Mexican wolf 👒, a subspecies of gray wolf, is found in New Mexico and Arizona.

mexican wolf

In the rest of the world, the wolf is gradually progressing in Europe and Central Asia , and encounters the same problems as in the United States : farmers 👨‍🌾 and their cattle as well as hunters and their game.

12) Wolves and Humans

A- A Negative Image of the Wolf

Omnipresent in mythology, folklore, and language, the gray wolf has impacted the human imagination and fallen victim to levels of misunderstanding that few animals have shared. Negative feelings 🤬 towards wolves have been nurtured over the centuries by popular culture. Fairy tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood" depict wolves as vicious predators; these negative representations make it very difficult to present wolves as a species to be protected.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

Yet early human societies that hunted to survive admired the wolf and tried to imitate its habits . But wolves and humans have a long history of confrontation. Although wolves rarely prey on humans, wolves and humans are both top-of-the-food-chain predators.

B- The Extinction of the Wolves

Consequently, in recent centuries they have often come into conflict as habitats decline and wolves are more likely to attack livestock and the wolf has been widely regarded as a malevolent creature , a danger to humans (especially in Eurasia), a competitor for big game animals 🐂 and a threat to livestock.

Wolf Next to Humans

Unfortunately, livestock depredation has been the primary justification for wolf eradication in virtually all of the United States , Mexico, and most of Europe. Wolves are therefore considered one of the most fearsome natural villains in the world. They prey on domestic animals, and so countless wolves have been shot, trapped and poisoned due to this tendency.

In the Southern 48 states, gray wolves were hunted to near extinction , although some populations survived and others have since been reintroduced. In the late 20th century, greater tolerance, legal protection 🏛, and other factors allowed their range to expand into parts of North America and Europe.

Wolf that Looks at Civilization

Despite the negative interactions, wolves are also seen as symbols of strength and icons of wilderness 🐝 . This may be one of the reasons why there is growing interest in keeping wolves or wolf-dog hybrids as pets, a practice that is rarely successful for the animal. or its owner.

Wolf Stuffed Animals

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