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Arctic Wolf

Updated on February 25, 2016

Scientific Name: Canis lupus arctos


 If you want to see a fascinating animal, view the Artic Wolf. They are a legend in their own right due to their coloring as well as their ability to live in places very few living things can. These aren’t very large wolves either. When you consider that they can be from 100 to 175 pounds and 3 to 6 feet in length there isn’t too much to then. Yet they are built to survive.

The white coloring of these wolves allows them to easily blend into their surroundings. They live in regions that are full of ice and snow. You will find that some of them have black, yellow, and gray on them as well. The overall appearance of them is diversified. That coloring also helps to protect them due to the way in which the sunlight can reflect off of the ice and snow.


 When you take a look at the Artic Wolf you will notice there are some differences from other species. The most noticeable one is that they have smaller ears. Yet they still have just as good of hearing senses as the others. The reason for the smaller ears has to do with keeping their bodies warm.

Another element that they have is a thicker coat than other species of wolves. In fact, this one actually has two layers. They have a layer you can’t visually see that is right on their skin. This prevents the cold from getting to them internally. The thicker outer coat allows them to be fine in the wind and the extremely cold weather.

The feet of all wolves are very large but these are even bigger. This allows them to be able to distribute the weight by shifting it. That way they can walk on top of the snow and ice. They can stay on top of soft snow instead of sinking in it. They can also grip the ice with pads on the bottoms of the paws so they don’t slide around.

photo courtesy of DocTaxon wikipedia Commons
photo courtesy of DocTaxon wikipedia Commons


 How did such a unique and interesting wolf come to exist? That is a question that we don’t have the answer to for sure. Yet there is evidence to suggest a couple of theories are close if not completely accurate. The first thing is that they evolved from other types of canines about 50 million years ago.

The second is that they we forced to live in these colder regions due to the ice that formed. There may not have been any possible way for them to get to other land. As a result they developed a body that was designed to withstand the elements they were confined to.

Arctic Wolf Video


 While there are photos of the Artic Wolf alone in their natural habitat, these definitely follow the tradition of wolves. They are part of a pack as they crave the socialization that comes from being a part of the group. They also need that unity to help ensure their need for food is met. When you see one alone it could be they are scouting for food for the pack.

It could also be a young Artic Wolf that has decided to venture out alone. They do so to look for their own territory and someone to mate with. Once they do so they are able to be in charge of their own wolf pack. Being the leader though doesn’t mean complete dominance. While there is a hierarchy in place, each member of the pack has value.

Just like other types of wolves, this one is very territorial. They have an amazing span of area that they cover though. It isn’t uncommon for them to move 100 miles or more on any given day though. They can have hundreds of miles that are part of their home range. Due to that span of distance it is only reasonable that the edges of it will overlap with that of other packs of wolves. Occasionally that can lead to some trouble between the two packs.


 Many people assume that Alaska is the only place where the Artic Wolves reside. That is correct in the fact that most of them do live here. They can live for weeks without food and without sunlight. They are fine in the cold and they seem to do very well in such an isolated environment where very few types of plants and other life can survive.

The benefit of that though is that they haven’t had to suffer like other wolves in the fact that they have lost their natural habitat. In fact, they are believed to be the only animal out there that still has all of it when you are talking about those living in Alaska.

Those that are found around Canada and around Greenland though aren’t so lucky. In fact, one of the reasons why they have become scarce in these areas is due to a lack of food and their dwindling habitat range.

Diet/Feeding Habits

Since not very many animals can live around these areas, the Artic Wolf has a limited diet. Caribou are what they mainly consume and they also eat muskoxen. Both types of animals migrate for their own food making these wolves needing to follow as well if they want to continue finding a food source.

These animals are very huge though and they aren’t always successful in taking them down. A group effort that has to be formulated to surround the prey is necessary for it to be effective. Once they do take down the prey though they will be able to feed heavily upon it. They will consume every part of their prey which means they get the most value from it.
Absolutely nothing remains of it when they are done. Should they not be able to finish it in a single day they will return to it the next. Even though the pups outside of the den can’t eat this meat on their own yet they do benefit from it. Some of the pack will stay behind to care for them while the others hunt.

What they will bring back is partially digested meat. Through a process known as regurgitation they share it with the young pups. All of the hunters will take the time to ensure the various pups within the pack get enough food this way. This continues until they can join in the hunt at about six months of age.

photo courtesy of Aconcagua   Wikipedia Commons
photo courtesy of Aconcagua Wikipedia Commons


 The only pair in a wolf pack that will mate are the top male and female – known as the alpha and the beta. Once she is pregnant she will work on digging a den for the young to be born in. She will remain away from the pack in the weeks leading up to the birth other than to eat what they have hunted.

The young will be born in the den and stay with their mother for about three months. They are very small, blind, and deaf at birth so they need her care desperately. She may leave them long enough to eat and then return. The rest of the wolf pack won’t wonder too far away. They eagerly await the pups coming out and will help to care for them until they are about 1 ½ or 2 years of age.

Arctic Wolf Video


 With the Artic Wolf living in such an isolated area they don’t have struggles with humans very often. They also don’t have too many other animals to worry about. Sometimes it is the conflicts with other wolf packs that can be a huge concern though. The harder food becomes to find the more likely that is.


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  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Great research and information. Enjoyed reading this hub.