The Wild Kingdom: Arctic Wolves

Arctic Wolves are most commonly found along the northern edge of Canada and Alaska up to the North Pole as well as along the eastern and northern shores of Greenland. The Arctic is known for its cold, desert-like conditions where the ground is almost always frozen and growing seasons are only 50 to 60 days.

Wolves are closely related to the coyote, domestic dog, fox, and jackal and are very intelligent animals who have a jaw crushing pressure of 1500(lbs/sq. inch) compared to 740 of a German Shepard. They can hear up to six miles away in the forest and ten in an open prairie. Some scientists believe the Arctic wolf can hear up to 80khz, compared to a human which can only hear up to 20khz. They generally weigh 70 to 175 pounds and are 3.2 to 5.9 feet long. In the wild they tend to live for 9 years rather than 15 in captivity.

The Arctic wolf has evolved to survive in his own environment. They have shorter ears, muzzles, and legs than an Grey Wolf to reduce exposure to the frigid air. They also have a thick under coat of soft fur and a course overcoat to reduce heat loss in temperatures that rarely raise above -30C. They have a white coat that gives them a heightened level of stealth for hunting in their environment which also makes them appear bigger than they are. Another special trait they have is thick pads on the bottom of their feet to protect them from frostbite.


Phylum- Chordata                                                     Class- Mammal

Order- carnivora                                                       Family- Canine

Genera- Canis                                                           Species- Canis Lupus

Subspecies- C.I. Arctos                                           Latin- Canis Lupus Arctos

There about only about 3500 Arctic Wolves left in the wild.

Arctic Wolves prey upon most of the species in the Arctic, such as Lemmings, Caribou, Arctic Foxes, Musk Ox, Arctic Hare and seals keeping the population of its prey low.  Polar Bears make hunting harder for Arctic Wolves since they prey on many of the same species, thus it's difficult for both species to find enough food. In addition, they commonly contract a parasite that affects their ability to survive.  The parasitic tape worm, if the tape worm is left inside the wolves stomach, it takes the nutrients that the wolf has eaten and the wolf starves.

They are also severely threatened by humans. We often hunt them for their beautiful white coat which is putting them in danger of extinction. They typically live in hillside dens or dens that have been abandoned by other animals but human induced climate change is melting their habitat. Between the tough climatic conditions where they live and the human impact upon them, the Arctic Wolf is at risk of extinction.

There about only about 3500 Arctic Wolves left in the wild and their population continues to dwindle. Some sources indicate that they are endangered.

The environment affects Arctic Wolves pups greatly, they only have 2 months to mature and prepare for the cold temperatures in the winter. The alpha female, who is the only wolf allowed to have pups, is pregnant for about 63 days. The pups are born deaf and blind, but can hear within 12-14 days. After 3-6 weeks, the pups usually leave the den and begin to investigate their surroundings, staying close to the den. As the pups mature, the pack moves to a more open area in their territory to begin preparing the pups for winter. By fall the pups are large enough to travel and hunt with the pack. Arctic Wolves generally reach adult size by six to eight months of age.


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“Canis Lupus.” IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. November 2nd, 2006.

Arctic Wolf - Animal Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2014.

Title: Arctic wolves and their prey - Mech. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2014

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