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Red wolf

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Red wolf
Red wolf 5.jpg
Scientific Classification
Trinomial Name

Canis lupus rufus

A red wolf is an endangered species of wolf known by the scientific name Canis lupus rufus . It has red and black fur, they have well developed ears, their paws are padded, and males are a little larger then females. The most unusual thing about them are their long but thin legs. They are viviparous animals and only the dominant male and female can have babies. Other wolves find food for them. The baby is cared for by all the wolves in the pack for about a year. they are kind to their pack but not to unfamiliar wolves.

Red wolves live in North America. They make their home in the south east. Their usual habitats were forests, wetlands, and mountains but this was before they became endangered. There isn't much evidence about an exact kind of environment red wolves live in. But it is known that they appear to like living in areas far from humans, and with lots of prey. As said before red wolves are an endangered species. Killing, bounties and more have caused the population to drop. The red wolf recovery project takes them into enclosed environments to try and protect them and get them to reproduce. However due to a lack of red wolves they started mating with coyotes causing a drop in the number of pure red wolves.

Body Design

Red wolf 3.jpg

A red wolf weighs from 40-80 pounds. They have fur that is a combination of red and black. That is how it got its name. Their ears are distinguished very well. They can hear other wolves howling from 5 miles away. They have a unique body structure. The red wolfs paws are well padded. This keeps them from getting cold or wet. The pads also help them run more smoothly. Their legs are long and thin. This is the most unique thing about their body. [1]

The average dimensions of a red wolf body are as follows. Their length is from 1000mm-1300mm. The length of their tail is about 300mm-420mm. Their shoulder height is 660mm-790mm. Among red wolves the male is about 10% bigger then the female. Their upper body's fur is red, gray, black, and tawny (yellowish brown). Normally the back is mostly black fur. The legs, and muzzle are also tawny. The tail has a black spot on the end.


Life Cycle

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Red wolves are viviparous animals. In a pack of red wolves only the dominant male and dominant female can reproduce. All the other wolves help raise the young and find food to feed the lactating female. Breeding season is from January to March. The gestation period is about 60 days give or take. In the spring there are on average 3-6 pups. But there can be as many as a dozen. Both males and females take care of the babies in the den. They are cared for and nursed for about 1 year. Most red wolves live for about 4 years but there was one wolf who lived for 14 years. [3]

Red wolves are usually nocturnal animals. A portion of their home land becomes territory for different packs. A pack is usually a pair of mates and their puppies but there are bigger packs. They live in dens to raise their offspring. Dens can be found in hollow tree trunks, stream banks, or sandy knolls. Most of the time packs live peacefully with each other. However they can show aggression to unfamiliar wolves. They can hunt for about 7-10 days at a time. [4]


Red wolf.jpg

Red wolves specifically live in the nearctic region. They make their home in a temperate and terrestrial area. So they mostly live in the Southeastern U.S. Before red wolves became an endangered species they lived in various habitats. Mountains, wetlands, and lowland forests were the main homes to red wolves. They also might live in a swampland. [5]

Little is known about the exact area of a red wolves repetanue. But from evidence they probably lived in different kinds of habitats. The last natural population of red wolves was around south west Louisiana and south east Texas. However it is argued that this isn't the perfect environment for them. There is evidence that they lived in large groups at river forests, and swamps. The wolves were reintroduced to north east North Carolina. Their offspring have lived in lands like pocosins or agricultural land. Pocosins are like forests and wetlands that have evergreen plants. This makes it possible so that red wolves are habitat generalists that are able to live in most environments with a good amount of prey and little human interaction. In 2002 this was proven true. Wetland soil, low humans, and far from roads were what made this a potential red wolf habitat.[6]


Red wolf 2.jpg

Unlike their brethren the gray wolves, the red wolf is an endangered species. Around 1920 the red wolf has been extirpated in the southern US. By 1970 there were less then 100 red wolves in the country. Bounties and indiscriminate killing has caused the decrease in number. Another thing that caused it was loss of habitat. People have cleared the land for roads, mining, agriculture, and other contributing factors. The red wolf recovery project focuses on preserving and expanding the remaining population of them. As the red wolf population went down the coyote population went east and started populating areas that are dominated by red wolves. If red wolves couldn't find mates of their own species they had to use a coyote as a mate. As this combination increased there became less and less pure genetic red wolves. Since then recovery efforts have changed to catching red wolves and proving their genetic purity. Then they were bred in captivity to reintroduce them. In 1980 the last pure red wolf was captured and the species was declared to be extinct in the wild. [7]

After Breeding was a success the animals were moved to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina in 1987. This was a good place to release them because it has little humans, livestock, and coyotes. After one year the red wolves successfully made their first liter of puppies in the wild. In 1993 captive red wolves were released to a wildlife refuge in North Carolina, a national park in Tennessee, and three islands off the Atlantic and gulf coasts. The reintroduction in north Carolina was a success. The current population there is about 100 free range wolves. The wolves in Tennessee weren't as successful. There was little to no survival chance for red wolf puppies. They can't expand territories or develop family groups in the parks boundaries. More things that biologists thought helped caused it are disease, predation, malnutrition, and parasites. There were also a few human issues that occurred. In October 1998 they planned to have all the red wolves in Tennessee moved to North Carolina. They also recalled the wolves on one island due to an increasing interaction with people. These days the red wolf population is slowly rising. The red wolves are starting to roam free in the Eastern US. But its future isn't secure. Half of them are still in captivity and reproduction is still a challenge. They will continue to be preserved until they can reach their goal. [8]


  1. Bryant, Joycelyn. Canis rufus. © 2009 - 2013 Joycelyn Bryant > Mammals. All Rights Reserved. Date-accessed Febuary 8, 2013
  2. Mulheisen, Michael. Canis rufus red wolf. Date-of-access Febuary 12, 2013
  3. Mulheisen, Michael. Canis rufus red wolf. Date-of-access Febuary 25, 2013
  4. Mulheisen, Michael. Canis rufus red wolf. Date-of-access Febuary 25, 2013
  5. Mulheisen, Michael. Canis rufus red wolf. Date-of-access Febuary 25, 2013
  6. B.T, Kelly. Canis rufus. Date-of-access Febuary 25, 2013
  7. Koch, Greg. Wolf info red wolf. © 2005-2013 Minnesota Zoo & Eduweb. Date-of-access Febuary 8, 2013
  8. Koch, Greg. Wolf info red wolf. © 2005-2013 Minnesota Zoo & Eduweb. Date-of-access Febuary 8, 2013