Wolf profile

Wolf profile

Reproduction of the wolf

The mating season of wolves lasts from the end of January to the beginning of March. Only the two highest-ranking animals of a pack, which are usually the parents of the entire pack, mate. Wolves reproduce only once a year and after a gestation period of 9 weeks have 4 to 7 young per litter, which they suckle for about 2 months.

The puppies can hear and see after about 20 days and then take in solid food. All members of the pack participate in the rearing of the young wolves. With about 10 months the wolves are then fully grown and with about 22 months sexually mature. With reaching sexual maturity the young wolves usually leave the parental herd to search for sexual partners and own territory and to reproduce themselves.

Life expectancy of the wolf

The life expectancy of wolves is about 13 years. However, this varies with the different subspecies of wolves and also varies depending on the habitat and circumstances in which wolves live. While the Tibetan wolf (Canis Lupus Chanco) has a life expectancy of 20 years, the other extreme is the polar wolf, which can only live 7 years. Wolves in captivity generally have a higher life expectancy.

Food of the wolf

Again and again the media report about wolf attacks on farm animals. But what is actually on the menu of wolves?

Basically, the wolf is at the top of the food pyramid of its habitat. Its number in an area is determined solely by the food supply and possibly also by diseases, but not by a predator. 

The wolf feeds mainly on ungulates and small mammals, such as roe deer, red deer, wild boar, hare and vole. However, in food-poor areas it also eats carrion and waste and, on the coast, fish. Near humans, the wolf also eats farm animals in insufficiently secured fences.

In addition, berries, leaves of grasses and sedges are on its menu. In general, he is very flexible as far as food intake is concerned. On average, a wolf eats about five kilograms per day. However, it can also take in up to 15 kg at once or even go without food for two weeks or more.

Distribution of the wolf in the past and today

In former times the wolf was the most widespread mammal of the world beside the human being: With exception of few regions he lived on the whole northern hemisphere. Today, however, wolves only inhabit less than two thirds of their original habitat.  

Wolves are very adaptable and settle where they find enough food and retreat. Their preferred habitat includes grassland and forests. Although the wolf is shy towards humans, it can still live well (and sometimes almost unnoticed) in its proximity. By adapting to the activities of humans and by using areas where many people are out and about during the day, for example only at night, wolves avoid humans as much as possible. The wolf therefore does not need wilderness and also no deserted expanses - neither in former times nor today.

Usually wolf packs live in fixed territories. Their size is strongly dependent on their prey and can range from a few to around 13,000 square kilometres.

Wolves defend their territories against conspecifics of other packs, which is why overlapping habitats are rather the exception. In Central Europe, the territorial sizes of the herds are around 150 to 350 square kilometres.

Males cover up to 27.6 kilometres per day, females about 22.1 kilometres. Through their constant presence, the pack shows other wolves their claim to the territory. In addition, potential prey gets accustomed to the presence of the wolves and does not avoid them as much.

In some parts of Europe the wolf has been extinct since the middle of the 19th century. In parts of Southern and Eastern Europe, such as the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Poland, however, it has survived. In addition, after numerous conservation efforts, the wolf is gradually spreading again in the Czech Republic, Southern Scandinavia, the French Alps, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.

Wolves in Germany

Wolves get along everywhere where they find enough to eat and where humans let them live. Therefore they do not need wilderness to settle down, but are very flexible.
Apart from the three city states of Hamburg, Berlin and Bremen, there are suitable regions for wolves in every federal state in Germany. However, in some regions there is for example too little game or too many roads, so that it is rather unlikely that wolves will settle in these areas. It is therefore assumed that wolves will never live in Germany in a comprehensive way.


Description / appearance of the wolf

The wolf (Canis lupus) is the second largest land based predator in Europe after the bear. Its physique resembles that of a large shepherd dog, it has relatively small and triangular ears and a straight, bushy tail (tail), which is usually carried hanging down. The tail of the wolf has 1/3 of the total length. The similarity to the domestic dog is due to the fact that the domestic dog is descended from the wolf and was domesticated by humans. The wolf has in contrast to the dog, however, a slightly longer trunk as well as a higher but narrower chest. The head of the wolf is a little bit bigger in comparison to the dog and the forehead a little bit broader.

The size, weight and colour of the wolves vary according to the area of distribution, the appearance of the wolf is therefore different depending on the habitat. Thus, the colour of the fur is mostly grey-brown, in Canada however also black and in the Arctic white. Depending on the region, colours have become established here that best adapt the wolf to the respective environment and camouflage it. The head-torso-length with animals in polar and subpolar regions is up to 160 cm, weight up to 80 kg, in the Orient only about 80 cm and 20 kg. In general the females are smaller and lighter than the male wolves. The weight of an adult wolf is between 20 and 45 kg.

Senses and abilities of the wolf

The wolf possesses some particularly well-developed abilities, which make it an excellent hunter. He has a good night vision and a viewing angle of 250° (in comparison: humans have a viewing angle of 180°). In addition, the wolf has very good hearing and can for example hear other wolves howling at a distance of up to 9 km.

The excellent sense of smell also allows him to pick up weather conditions up to 2 km away. He is a good swimmer and also a persistent runner, reaching speeds of up to 12 km / h when trotting. In the short term the wolf can even reach speeds of over 50 km / h.