The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a member of the Canidae family, and a subspecies of Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic and the northern parts of Greenland.
Arctic Wolves generally are smaller than Gray Wolves, being about 3 to 6 feet long including the tail, males being larger than females. Their shoulder heights vary from 25 to 31 inches. Arctic Wolves are bulkier than Gray Wolves, often weighing over 100 pounds. Weights of up to 175 pounds have been observed in full-grown males. Arctic Wolves usually have small ears, which help the wolf maintain body heat.
Arctic Wolves, like all wolves, hunt in packs. They mostly prey on Caribou and musk ox, but will also kill a number of Arctic Hares, lemmings, and other small mammals. Moose can also be taken. Due to the scarcity of grazing plants, they roam large areas to find prey up to and beyond 1000 square miles, and they will follow migrating caribou south during the winter. They are born with gray fur, which changes over to white as they mature.
Normally only the alpha male and female will breed. However in large packs others may mate as well. Due to the Arctic’s permafrost soil and the difficulty it poses for digging dens, Arctic Wolves often use rock outcroppings, caves or even shallow depressions as dens instead. The mother gives birth to two or three pups in late May to early June. The wolf pups stay with their mother for 2 years.
Photo Credit: Ralf Schmode