Canis lupus arctos (*)
Canis lupus arctos (Pocock, 1935)
* Canis lupus arctos on Mammal Species of the World.
The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a species of mammal of the family Canidae, and a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and the northern parts of Greenland.
See also: Gray Wolf behavior and physiology
Habitat and distribution
The Arctic Wolf inhabits the northern part of Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and parts of Alaska. They have lived in North America for more than two million years. When they find a den, they make a couple of chambers for food and young. Arctic wolves live on the islands of the Canadian Arctic, and the north coast of Greenland, roughly north of 70° North latitude. The Arctic Wolf is the only subspecies of the Gray Wolf that still can be found over the whole of its original range, largely because, in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter humans.
Their habitat is extremely harsh and remote, and few scientists venture into that world during the long, dark winter – even the vast majority of Inuit live further south than the Arctic wolf. As a result, the details of their lives through much of the year are virtually unknown.
Like all wolves, Arctic Wolves hunt in packs, preying mainly on Caribou and Muskoxen, but also Arctic Hares, seals, ptarmigan and lemmings, and smaller animals such as waterfowl. To eat rodents they must pick up their scent and find the entrance to their tiny dens to flush them out. Wolves almost never attack humans. Due to the scarcity of prey, they roam large areas, up to 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi), and follow migrating caribou south during the winter. They are not fast runners, instead relying on stamina to take down prey.
They kill their prey with a bite on the neck. Adult wolves have 42 teeth, their main weapon in hunting. They swallow food in large chunks, barely chewing it. They eat all of their prey, including the bones. Wolves can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one meal. When they return from the hunt, wolves regurgitate some of the food for the hungry pups.
See also: Gray Wolf reproductive physiology and life cycle
Due to the Arctic's permafrost soil and the difficulty it poses for digging dens, Arctic Wolves often use rock outcroppings, caves or even shallow depressions as dens instead. After gestation of about 63 days to 75 days, birth is in late May to early June, about a month later than Gray Wolves. The mother gives birth to 2 or 3 pups, though there may be as many as 12. This is fewer pups than Gray Wolves, which have four to five. It is generally thought that the lower number is due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic. Pups are born blind and deaf, and weigh about one pound. They are dependent on their mother for food and protection. When they are three weeks old, they are allowed outside the den. Other wolves in the pack may take care of the mother’s pups until she returns with food.
* L. David Mech (text), Jim Brandenburg (photos), At home with the Arctic wolf, National Geographic Vol. 171 No. 5 (May 1987), pp. 562–593
1. ^ Morelle, Rebecca (2009-01-31). "Elusive wolves caught on camera". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7213731.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License