Wolf Habitat

Wolf Habitat and Distribution

Wolves are the wild dogs of the world, and they have a vast distribution that exists in many types of habitats. They are very diverse animals. For this reason, they have a habitat that is very spread out around the world. It isn’t true that they only live in very thick forests and come out at night. Wolves have been identified in many areas that you may not even imagine them being able to survive.

In the wild, wolves are seen to thrive in forested areas and grasslands but also exist in steppes, tundra, boreal forests, and deserts. Their extreme adaptability is surprising to many because many wild dogs usually favor one type of habitat. Their versatility is amazing and it has helped them to survive despite their status as an endangered animal.

Most wolves are classified according to where they live and the type of vegetation that surrounds them. The coats, habitats, and classifications are all linked and habitat.

Wolf Classification

To classify unique species of wolves requires extensive knowledge about the wolf species and their behavior, as well as a thorough understanding of how they develop.

There are many different species of wolf, each unique in appearance and mannerism. Many are considered hybrids of the gray wolf, the common ancestor of all wolves.

Here are some categories of wolves that people often find to be controversial:

  1. African Wolf 

The African wolf is a medium-sized canid with golden to ginger-colored fur, lightly built, and relatively long legs and ears. Its coat is generally a tawny yellow to the buff color brown. It carries a characteristic black mark on its forelegs and chest, with a fainter one on its shoulders. The ears are relatively large and pointed. 

  1.  Gray Wolf

A gray wolf is a canine with long bushy tails that are often black-tipped. Its coat color is typically a mix of gray and brown with buffy facial markings that extend down to the lower abdomen but the color can vary from solid white to brown or black.

  1. Red Wolf 

Nocturnal and territorial, the red wolf is a master hunter, capable of taking down prey three times its size. It has a mottled gray coat with long legs and black-tipped ears.

  1. Indian Plain wolf

The Indian wolf is one of the largest subspecies of the grey wolf, comparable to the Arabian wolf and Himalayan wolf. Its fur is comparatively short and sleek, with colors ranging from almost white to dark grey or black. It occurs in a wide range of habitats across India and Nepal, although it generally avoids densely populated areas. 

  1. Arabian Wolf

The Arabian wolf is the smallest wolf subspecies and a desert-adapted subspecies that normally lives in small groups. It is omnivorous, eating small to medium-sized prey. With a genetic similarity to the Ethiopian wolf, it is thought that they are ancestors of each other.

  1. Polar Wolf (Arctic Wolf)

The Arctic or polar wolf, also known as the white wolf or polar wolf, is a subspecies of grey wolf native to Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Islands. Its habitat is located around the Arctic Circle. It is larger than mainland gray wolves and is mostly covered with fur and few spots. 

  1. Eurasian Wolf 

The Eurasian wolf is the largest of all grey wolf subspecies. It has a large range throughout continental Eurasia and currently exists in the wild in Eastern Europe, Middle Asia (excluding China), Central Asia, and the Himalayas. It has also been introduced to Northern America, Italy, and Japan. Wild Eurasian wolves are now rare in Western Europe. However, they can be found in the Balkans, France, Germany, and around the borders of Russia.

Where can you find wolves?

Like any predator, wolves tend to be found in places of an abundant supply of prey. This is why we find them in areas inhabited by deer, caribou, elk, and other herbivores.

Some wolves species only live in the United States in forests and other areas where animals are plentiful to consume due to their dietary needs. Others live in the cold Arctic regions where there are hardly any other animals surviving there due to the bitter cold.

There are wolves found in the mountain ranges of Colorado thanks to some reintroduction programs along the Rockies that have been very successful. Regardless of the location, these animals need to have room to roam around. Their home range can be from 33 to 6,200 km2. It will depend on the type of wolf and where they happen to reside.

Also, research has found evidence of wolves living all along the Northern Hemisphere even though they do not have large numbers of wolves. They can be found along the plains, in the savannah deserts of Africa, and in forests that have both hardwood and softwood. As long as their basic needs are met, they can survive. Wolves are also able to adapt and propel into new territory when necessary for their survival.

Wolf habitat and distribution
An arctic wolf in the snow

How wolves live in the Alaskan tundra

Most of the wolves left in the world today are found living on the frozen tundra of Alaska and Canada. Here they can live in remote areas and not be bothered like they are in other places where humans are more likely to settle. Even so, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in jeopardy due to a lack of food. Hunters go to those areas as well in the hopes of being able to successfully kill wolves.

Wolves spend about 8 or 10 hours every day moving through their home range. They will rarely stay in one place for too long of a period. They mark their habitat with urine as well as a scent that comes from glands in their tails. These markers are to let other wolves know that such territory has already been claimed.

It is not unprecedented for the habitat of a pack of wolves to overlap with that of other wolf packs. Generally, this is very peaceful since the different wolf packs avoid each other. However, when the size of the habitat is reduced and when food is hard to find, they can become more aggressive towards each other.

The leading reason why wolves out there today continue to have a hard time surviving comes down to the fact that their habitat is being destroyed. People continue to want more land to place their homes on or their ranches. Businesses continue to tear down the areas that these animals inhabit. Without a vast habitat for them to live in, they struggle to find enough survival food.

That is why they seem to be attacking more domesticated animals. They need a source of food and when that is placed in front of them, they aren’t able to differentiate between that and what nature offers them. Wolves have a bad reputation for being destructive but when you view the whole picture you will see that humans are the ones responsible for taking away their habitat.

Where do wolves roam in Africa?

Wolves have long been associated with Africa’s stories and pictures about wild animals. But the truth about where they actually live on the continent is surprising. In some countries, such as Ethiopia, they are often viewed as dangerous animals since livestock can be an easy target for wolves. However, they are also protected due to being a part of the country’s natural heritage.

The Serengeti wolf is a subspecies of gray wolves. It is native to Africa and primarily found in the Serengeti region of Tanzania. While the Serengeti wolf is considered endangered, recent conservation efforts have helped maintain its population, estimated at 1,500 to 2,000 individuals.

Other places you can find African wolves are: in the tall grass savannas of Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Sudan.

Wolf footprints in Europe and Asia

The wolf has a long history in Europe and Asia. In the early 20th century, wolves were seen as predators that needed to be eradicated from these regions. It was thought that they were going to completely wipe out the entire population of reindeer.

However, the wolf populations were not entirely exterminated from western Europe and Asia in the mid-to-late-20th century. Many wolf populations continued to exist in wilderness areas, away from human influence. As a consequence of the increasing human population and economic growth, these areas have become surrounded by farms and cities. Human persecution of wolves is now considered one of the direct threats to wolf populations.

Europe and Asia today represent a vast region with many different kinds of wolves. Wolves present across the region, however, can be divided into two types. Gray wolves and red wolves. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are the most common wolf species in Europe and Asia today. These wolves are easily recognized by their large size, shaggy pelt, and bushy tail. They generally live in packs but can sometimes be found living in pairs as well.

Deforestation and Wolves Habitat

In several important respects, wolves are dependent upon the integrity of their habitat. The management of prey in places outside the species’ core range is also heavily influenced by habitat and ecosystem health.

Deforestation has had a substantial effect on the way of life of the wolves. It interferes with the prey, habitat, and even the ecosystem balance. As a result, they have less food to hunt. Which increases tensions and leads to wolf attacks on humans.

Diversity is Good, Even for Wolves

Over the past half-century, wolves have undergone a dramatic recovery in North America. Back from the brink of extinction, their populations are now flourishing in many regions. Despite the threat to wolves’ habitat and existence, their diversified species have allowed them to survive for a long time. This characteristic has seen them withstand a lot of ecological and human stress. Although many conservation processes are going on, humans have to take a firm decision to protect the existence and habitat of these creatures to avoid extinction.

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