Do Wolves Attack Humans? Chilling Facts About These Unfriendly Canines | Kidadl


Do Wolves Attack Humans? Chilling Facts About These Unfriendly Canines

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The wolf is a sharp, quick-witted animal.

They are bonded to their family, raising their pups and taking care of injured members in the group. The wolf (Canis lupus), popularly known as the gray wolf, is a large canine found in Eurasia and North America.

Wolves are the wild ancestors of all our domesticated dogs. The wolf population extends into 30 subspecies, all of which are non-domestic. Wolves are an extended member of Canidae (dog-like wild carnivores), slightly differentiated from Canis (dogs) by their more rounded ears, muzzles, and shorter torsos with long tails. They are closely related to smaller (Canis) (dogs) such as coyotes and golden jackals. The wolf is the most distinct, unique, and efficient predator in the Canis family, with specialized hunting tactics for handling large prey. Wolves are social in nature, living mostly within their packs. Wolves are expressive, warning their packmates of any possible danger with vocalization, body posture, scent, and taste. They are the best predators in the ecosystem, hunting the weakest of the other wildlife.

Wolves are rarely kept as pets or working animals, though they can share a connection with human hunters. Although they share the same ancestry as domesticated dogs, they are not as reliable as dogs. Wolves need to be handled with caution. Captive wolves treat people like other predators, often biting or attacking to free themselves. Wolves may react violently to grab their food from people. They also learn by observing, which allows them to quickly escape from their confinement and return to the wild. Abandoned and escaped captive wolves can be very angry, aggressive, and dangerous to the people, livestock, and animals or pets nearby. They are less responsive and unsuitable for working. They also need more space, food, and training than dogs.

If you are enjoying reading this, also read our articles on do wolves hibernate? and do wolves bark?

Do wolves eat humans?

The story of Red Riding Hood, with its big bad wolf killing children and people, is a popular story. The fear of wolves revolves around past and present societies. In reality, the risk of wolves killing or attacking a human is far smaller than it seems, as wolves tend to live far from people and the city to avoid them.

Documented wolf attacks are extensive in France, with 7,600 fatal attacks from 1200 to 1920. Few wolf attacks were recorded in North America as of 2002, eight were recorded in Europe and Russia, and more than 200 in South Asia. A study published in 2002 on wild wolf attacks in Alaska and Canada says over 60,000 wolves were living in 1900-2000, but only 16 cases of attacks were recorded.

The majority of these attacks involve rabid wolves. Most rabid wolf attacks are due to their defensive, predatory, and aggressive behavior. Rabid wolves attack their victim but won't eat them. Some wolf attacks are provoked by anger and fear, which is defensive. When the victim tries to disturb, tease, annoy, or attack a wolf, or enters into the wolf's territory or gets too close to its pack, the wolf may feel uncomfortable. One example can be a human being killed by a mother wolf when he wandered near its pups, but such cases are rare. An unprovoked wolf attack is mostly caused by hunger. In predatory attacks, the victims are bitten repeatedly on the head and face, taken away, and eaten. Wolves are aggressive by nature on certain conditions, namely, to ward off their competitors for food or territory. They can get aggressive and attack or kill the victim, leaving them uneaten.

Wolves are not a primary reservoir of rabies. They are often infected by dogs, golden jackals, and foxes. Wolves have much worse cases of rabies than dogs, due mostly to their size and strength.

Where do wolves live?

Wolves are called 'habitat generalists' as they are very adaptive to the place they live and the food available.

Wolf can live in wildlife forests, deserts, or even high up in the snowy region. They are originally inhabitants of Eurasia and North America. Wolf populations are now extinct in most of Western Europe, the United States, Mexico, and Japan. Now, they are mostly found in forests and remote areas. They can reside at sea level and up to 3,000 m (9,800 ft). Wolves live in shrublands, grasslands like Arctic Tundra, wetlands, pastures, rocky mountains, and deserts. Their habitats depend on the availability of food, the population of livestock, weather conditions, and human presence. Wolves occupy large territories in which they can hunt their food, live, and raise their pups. Wolves mark their territory through scratches, scents, and howling. Female wolves live in the dens and caves while they are giving birth to their pups. Only the mother and pups live in the dens. The den is dug from the ground or uses natural wildlife structures, like tree trunks or boulders well-covered by vegetation.

North American wolves rarely contract rabies since the population of the primary carriers, jackals, is lower.

How big does a wolf grow?

The fierceness, power, and beauty of wolves are adored by humans, but they are equally dangerous. Wolves are carnivores, the largest member of the canines (dogs) or Canid family. They are mostly shy and cautious around humans and can't be domesticated like dogs.

They come in many different sizes. This animal grows in massive size. Adult wolves grow from four to six ft (121-182 cm) long, and can weigh from 40-170 lb (18.4-77.11 kg) at their largest. Adult gray wolves measure anywhere from four to 6.56 ft (120-200 cm) long and can weigh 40-175 lb (18.4-79.3 kg). The red wolf is a bit smaller, staying around 4.5-5.5 ft long (137-168 cm), and weighing 50-80 lb (23-36 kg).

What do wolves prey on?

Wolves are wild animals. They are carnivores that mostly hunt domestic livestock and other animals in the wildlife. They live and hunt in packs. Some of the wolves distract the prey while others bring it down to bite. The larger the animal is, the larger the pack is. Wolves have strong jaws with which they hold and bite their prey.

Wolves attack medium and large-sized mammals such as reindeer, horses, yak, antelope, bison, deer, elk, oxen, and seals. They can also attack livestock as moose, goats, sheep, beavers, and pigs. Wolves are very adaptive to the place they live and the food they eat. Their food varies with the place they inhabit and the wildlife around them. They generally feed on the entirety of their prey, leaving only skin, large bones, and skulls. An adult gray wolf consumes around 2.2 lb (1 kg) of meat. A reproducing wolf consumes around 6.6 lb (3 kg). In the scarcity of food, wolves can eat fruits like apples, berries, melons, and pears. Gray wolves can eat black nightshade, which is poisonous to humans. Sometimes they even dig in garbage. Some evidence shows that in the worst climates like winter, where they can't find food, the pack attacks the weakest amongst them and eats them.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for whether wolves attack humans, then why not take a look at dog breeds that look like wolves or find out if wolves howl at the moon? 

Written By
Deepthi Reddy

<p>With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?