Wolves are special
The wolf is a highly complex creature - a highly skilled hunter, yet a gentle and playful parent that cares for other members of its pack and shares its food. The wolf was the first animal to be domesticated some 13,000 years ago.
The gray wolf used to be the most widespread mammal in the northern hemisphere, but today is restricted to eastern Europe, mountains in the mediterranean region and Middle East, plus areas in Asia and North America. The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest of all the canids.
The gray wolf lives in a variety of habitats, from semidesert and wolderness areas, to forests, prairies and frozen wastelands. Incedibly, the Ethiopian wolf lives at about 3,000m,in 'subalpine' heathlands and grasslands. A wolf's 'home range' depends on pack size and food availability. Territories range from 18 to over 1,000 square miles.
Gray wolves hunt a wide range of food dependent on the location. Because they hunt in packs, they can prey on big animals such as moose, caribou and elk. But smaller prey such as beaver, hare, rabbits and mice are also caught. The Ethiopian wolf hunts alone and catches small mammels such as mole rats, grass rats, hares and rock hyrax.
The wolf is a large animal, with a long lean body. Hardy and powerful, its strong legs, big feet and incredible stamina are perfect for long-distance running and harsh weather conditions. a wolf has a dense, warm fur, so can survive extreme cold. A wolf's sense of smell is up to 100 times more sensitive than humans, it can hear up to a distance of 10 miles and has good night vision.
Wolves are elusive, avoiding contact with humans wherever possible. Wolves are playful animals and play amongst pups helps to develop muscles, hunting skills and to establish hierarchy.
Wolves live and hunt in closely bonded packs, led by a dominant, breeding pair, the 'alpha male and female'. Wolves sometimes mate for life. There is a well defined 'hierarchy' within the pack and other pack members include sub-adults from the previous year's litter.
After a nine weeks gestation, the alpha female gives birth to an average of 4-7 pups, who are dependent on her milk. After a month, the pups emerge from the den and members of the pack help care for the pups and give thm food and attention.