Despite their name, red wolves can have a variety of coat colors including yellow, black, brown, gray, and red. Often the fur behind their legs and ears will have a reddish tint.
They are similar in size to a German shepherd dog. The males grow to around 30 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 60 to 80 pounds. They are smaller than gray wolves, but bigger than coyotes. The females are slightly smaller than the males.
What do they eat?
Red wolves are carnivores and, therefore, mostly eat meat. Their primary food consists of small rodents, rabbits, raccoons, and deer. They will also eat insects and berries.
Where do they live?
Red wolves live in North America. At one time there were red wolves over much of the Southeastern United States, however, due to habitat loss and hunting, they became extinct in the wild in 1980. Fortunately, there were still some red wolves living in zoos. Since then they have been reintroduced into the wild and now live in protected areas in North Carolina. Red wolves prefer the habitats of forests, costal prairies, and sometimes swamps.
Do they travel in packs?
Yes, red wolves live and travel in packs of five to eight animals. The wolf pack will have a territory that it will defend from other packs. They sometimes hunt alone or together with the pack. The wolves communicate through a variety of noises such as howling, scent markings, facial expressions, and body movements. For example, the dominant leaders will lift their tails and stand tall when facing another wolf. In each pack, there is a dominant male wolf and a dominant female wolf that lead the pack. Usually only the dominate pair of wolves will have puppies.
Red Wolf Puppies
Red wolf puppies are born in litters of 2 to 8 pups. When born, the pups are tiny and their eyes are still closed. They are entirely dependent on their mothers for protection and food. As they grow up, the entire pack will help in taking care of them and protecting them. When they have grown to maturity, they may venture out on their own to form their own pack.
Are they endangered?
Red wolves are currently on the critically endangered list. They were hunted to near extinction by people in the 1800s and 1900s. By 1973 there were only around 100 of the wolves left. A captive breeding program was introduced to try and save the animal from extinction. By 1980 they were considered extinct in the wild, but some still survived in zoos. In 1987 four male-female pairs were released back into the wild in North Carolina. Since then more have been released and the population of wolves has started to make a slight comeback.
Fun Facts about the Red Wolf
According to the National Parks Conservation Association, there are currently around 80 red wolves that live in the wild.
Red wolves have no natural predators.
They have been rereleased onto several protected coastal islands.
They are mostly nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day.
Male and female red wolves typically pair-bond for life.
More than half of the red wolf population still lives in captivity.
Red wolves live for eight or nine years in the wild. They can live longer in captivity.