Wolves of any species continue to fascinate us. Here are 10 facts about wolves you probably didn’t know.
Despite wide-scale and almost worldwide persecution of this animal, the wolf continues to thrive.
Possibly there are few other land animals that fascinate yet terrify people as much as this creature.
Wolves have simply refused to be put down.
Though they were the first animals humans domesticated, there’s still so much we don’t know about them. Or, we just tend to forget.
Here are 10 little known facts about wolves to help us remember just how awesome these animals are.
10 Facts About Wolves
1) Black Wolves Are Actually Gray Wolves
The black colored coat in wolves is not a natural occurrence. In fact, black wolves get their distinct color from a wolf-dog hybridization that occurred among their ancestors many years back.
Dark fur is a dominant trait in wolves and is passed from one generation to the next. Also, if for instance a gray wolf mates with a black wolf and produces a litter of six pups, usually up to four or even five of the pups would inherit the black fur. Black wolves are most commonly found in North America than anywhere else worldwide.
2) Wolves Howl For Numerous Reasons.
Wolves howl when they want to get the attention of their pack. A pack of wolves can howl to alert another pack to stay out of their territory. Or, they may howl because they heard another wolf howling: kind of like a contagious thing.
A single howl can be heard from a distance of over 10km.
3) The Coyote-Wolf Hybrid Is Becoming Common
It appears a large percentage of coyotes today are really wolf hybrids. Especially in parts of Eastern Canada and the USA. What people identify as the Eastern coyote is actually a wolf-coyote hybrid with some dog in the mix too! These so called ‘coywolves’ now number in the millions.
They are typically larger than regular coyotes but smaller than true wolves. Also, they are extremely cunning and quite fearless of humans.
4) They Had A Prominent Part In Roman Mythology
In Roman mythology, the story goes that a princess gave birth to twin boys named Romulus and Remus. The father of the boys was Mars, the Roman god of war.
Unfortunately, King Amulis feared that the boys would grow to seize his throne. As a result, he arranged for the boys to be killed though they were abandoned on the banks of the Tiber River.
The legend goes on to say they were found and raised by a she-wolf until a shepherd found and adopted them.
One of the brothers, Romulus later founded the city of Rome.
5) Wolves Can Grow To Some Extreme Weights
The size of individual wolves tends to increase the further away they are from the equator. Hence, wolves around the far north they weigh in at over 120 lbs., while wolves around the tropics are just the size of medium-sized dogs.
The largest wolf documented wolf size was one caught in what is now Ukraine and it weighed 190 lbs.
6) Wolves Absolutely Love Pups
Despite their fierce reputation, the entire wolf pack cares for any pups born to the pack. Males take turns to baby sit and non-breeding females will produce milk to nurse the pups.
7) The Black Plague Introduced Wolves To Human Flesh
The Black Plague Or Black Death occurred in Eurasia leading to the death of between 75 and 200 million people. The bodies of the dead were piling up so fast that they couldn’t be burnt or buried fast enough. Many times, these bodies were dumped at the outskirts of affected towns and wolves began to feed on the bodies.
The result was two-fold. On the one hand, the wolves developed a taste for eating human flesh. On the other hand, the highly suspicious people of that age began to create stories about werewolves, and vampires after witnessing the wolves eating the bodies.
8) Ravens Are Frequent Where There Are Wolves
Ravens often follow wolves about to feed on leftover carcasses. These birds also tease and play with the wolves by pecking their tails to make them chase after them. Such ravens are often referred to as wolf-birds.
9) Wolves Can Lure And Eat Dogs
Though wolves and dogs are very closely related, in the wild wolves will readily attack and eat dogs if given the chance. Even where the dog is much larger than the wolf in question, chances are the wolf will win because of its larger teeth and higher bite force.
A single wolf can even lure a stray dog into an ambush by the rest of the wolf pack. Only the largest, fiercest dog breeds stand a chance of escape.
10) Eurasian Wolves Are Generally More Aggressive Than American Wolves
Apparently, Eurasian wolves are more likely to attack humans than their North American counterparts. In France in particular, wolves killed over 3,000 people between 1580 and 1830. Whereas, there are few confirmed reports of wolf related deaths in North America.
The wolves in India and Russia are also well known for human fatalities.