For most people, a wolf is not just a wild animal, but an archetypal image familiar from childhood. He became a character in fairy tales by chance. People have long feared and revered this beast. They frightened disobedient children with a wolf, called the elder brother of a man, composed fairy tales and legends about him.
Ancestors of wolves and evolution
The probable ancestor of the modern wolf is Canis lepophagus. This is a representative of the dog breed that inhabited the territory of North America in the Miocene period.
The first real wolves appeared in the early Pleistocene period. Among the species was Canis priscolatrans, distinguished by its small size. It is believed that this species is the ancestor of the red wolf, which migrated to the territory of Europe and Asia.
Later, Canis priscolatrans was modified and evolved, which led to the emergence of C. Mosbachensis, a species that has much in common with modern representatives. Over time, S. Mosbachensis evolved into Canis lupus.
Types and features of each species
Science knows about 32 species and subspecies of wolves. Next will be described the most interesting species.
The rarest subspecies of the gray wolf. It is distributed in the territory of Greenland, in the northern regions of Canada and in Alaska. The absence of man in a cold, snowy area, allowed to preserve the habitat in its original form.
The arctic wolf is distinguished by its large and powerful body composition. The male at the withers can reach 1 m, with a weight of 100 kg. This type is characterized by sexual diferism (males exceed females in size by 15-16%).
The animal is ideally adapted to life in the conditions of the polar night, in order to search for prey, overcoming vast distances along the snowy plain. An adult can eat up to 12 kg of meat at a time. Often nothing is left of the prey, since the polar wolves do not chew on meat, but swallow along with their bones.
Representatives of this species live in flocks, which number 12-15 individuals. The head of such a group can be not only a male, but also a female. There are cases when a pack takes to itself lonely wolves (if they will obey the leader).
The look got its name because of the long fur that covers the neck and shoulders. The skin resembles a horse's mane. The main residence is South America.
Maned wolf has a red color. A distinctive feature of the form are large ears and an elongated head. In appearance, the beast looks lean. The body weight of an adult individual does not exceed 25 kg.
Maned wolf - loner hunter. She chooses small livestock, birds, and reptiles as prey. It feeds on fruit.
The most common species living in North America. The weight of an animal can reach 80 kg, and its height - 90 cm. The individual hunts deer, musk oxen, elks and bison.
Mountain wolf has a beautiful appearance. Its coat is colored like fox fur. Weight slightly exceeds 20 kg. The length does not exceed 100 cm. Color depends on the region of residence. In the cold period, the fur becomes softer, more fluffy and thick. With the onset of heat takes a dark color and begins to get rude.
Predators of this species live and get food in a flock numbering 12-15 individuals. There is rarely a clear leader in their community. Deer, antelope or large rodents are chosen as prey. A strong pack can attack a bull and even a leopard. In the event of a food shortage, the red wolf can eat carrion.
The animal lives secretly, trying to arrange parking far away from human habitation. This impedes learning.
The appearance of the red wolf is similar to the appearance of gray individuals, only the redheads are inferior in size and weight, and also have shorter ears and fur. The body can reach a length of 130 cm and a weight of 40 kg. The color is not solid, the muzzle and legs are red, and the back is dark.
Predators settle in the marshes, steppes and mountains. In flocks there are individuals of different ages. In the group almost never aggression towards individual members.
The red wolf eats not only meat, but also vegetation. It mainly hunts rabbits, rodents and raccoons. Very rarely, but attacks large mammals. There are cases when the predator itself becomes the prey of a lynx or alligator.
This species is generally called the gray wolf. It is the most common animal in the family. Body length reaches 160 cm, weight - 80 kg.
The animal lives in North America, and in the territory of Eurasia. In recent years, the total number has greatly decreased. The reason for this is the extermination of man. And only in North America the population remains at a stable level.
What wolves eat
The wolf is a predator. Most often he chooses the following animals as prey:
- Roe deer
Small species, as well as solitary individuals, attack smaller animals - rodents, gophers, birds. Very rarely can one choose a prey in the face of a large predator, although there are cases when flocks attack wounded or sleeping bears, foxes.
In a hungry period, they may return to the under-eaten carcasses. At this time, predators do not disdain and carrion.
In addition to meat, they eat forest fruits, berries, grass, watermelons, and melons. Such food allows you to get the required amount of fluid.
Breeding and growing offspring
A pair of wolves, as a rule, is formed for life. If one of the partners dies, the second is not looking for a replacement. Animals live in flocks from 12 to 45 individuals (depending on the species).
In the wolf community there is a clearly built hierarchy. The head is the alpha animal (it can be both male and female). Then adult individuals, lone wolves, and puppies follow. Very often in a flock accept lonely individuals. The main condition is tolerance towards other members of the pack. When puppies reach three years of age, they are thrown out of the conglomerate. It's time to find yourself a couple, and start a family.
The most stressful time in the life of the pack is the mating season, when alpha males and females are trying to fend off other members. Often fights between animals end in death.
For one litter in a wolf is from 3 to 15 puppies. Offspring harvested more than two months. Puppies are born blind. Eyes open 10-14 days after birth.
Wolves in zoos - features of captivity
Wolves in zoos, live longer than wild relatives (the first live 20 years, the second from 8 to 15). This is due to the fact that in the wild, old individuals, unable to obtain food, die or become victims of relatives.
For a full life in captivity, special conditions must be created. The fact is that an animal in its natural environment runs up to 20 km daily. This is a normal and necessary load, so there should be an enclosure of appropriate size. Not bad recreate the conditions of the area in which the animal must live.
An adult should consume up to 2 kg of fresh meat daily. In winter, the rate increases to 3 kg.
You should periodically bring live food in order to preserve the hunter's instinct.
The story of the domestication of a wolf in a dog
Very often small cubs fall into the hands of hunters. They do not always give the animals to the zoo. Someone brings them home, someone sells. Such a product is in demand, there are risky people who want to get a predator. And the desire to raise a pet from a wild beast further stirs up the excitement.
In most cases, such decisions are erroneous and unsafe. The wolf is primarily a predator. Getting it home is like setting a time bomb. Sooner or later explode.
If such a predator appeared in the house, then first of all it is necessary to create all conditions ensuring safety. The wolf is an intelligent, freedom-loving and cunning animal, so he will spend all his free time trying to get out of the cage. In addition, he is able to learn from human primitive actions. In other words, he can remember how a person opens a cell and do it on his own.
Keep the wolf at home is only necessary in a special cage, or aviary. For its construction it is better to attract a specialist. A hastily assembled cage from scrap materials can help liberate the beast and lead to tragedy.
Another point that everyone should know to tame a wild animal. He will never perform the functions of a dog. A wolf is a predator, and man is an enemy to him, he will always be afraid of him. Consequently, when an alien tries to enter the territory of the house, he will try to hide.
- Breeders' numerous experiments allowed breeding wolves and dogs to be mixed. Today, two mixed breeds have been recognized - the Czechoslovak Wolf and Sarlos.
- In the Middle Ages, personified the servant of the devil. Many stories, tales, legends were composed, in which the image of a wild animal appeared.
- Many coats of arms belonging to noble families of Europe, had the image of a wolf. Representatives of ancient families claimed that their kind came from werewolves (a mixture of man and wolf).
- Before the battle, the Scandinavian Vikings donned wolf skins and drank the blood of predators. In their opinion, this ritual was supposed to bring good luck.
- In the XVI century, Ireland was called the wolf land. The reason for this was the numerous flocks of predators that lived on these lands.
- In the calm, the animal can hear sound at a distance of 17 km.
- Wolves are excellent swimmers. They are able to swim at a distance of 10 km at a time.
- Hitler was an admirer of these animals. For this reason, many Wehrmacht headquarters had a name associated with predators.
- The Aztec was made to puncture the dying man in the chest with a wolf bone. According to them, with the help of the ritual could be saved from death.
- In Japanese, the word wolf means "great god."
Watching the wolves for centuries, the man realized that the predator is a disciplined and intelligent animal, and not just a hunter and a murderer. The image of survival in the wild, living in pairs, building a hierarchical ladder in a flock, allows us to speak about the uniqueness of this mammal.