How Fast Can A Wolf Run? The Speediest Species Identified For Kids | Kidadl


How Fast Can A Wolf Run? The Speediest Species Identified For Kids

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Thanks to movies like the 'Wolfman' and 'Twilight', wolves are now some of the most popular animals and they have also become the main plot in several storybooks and movies.

A wolf is a canine belonging to the Canidae family. It is the largest living member of the family.

A wolf is closely related to coyotes and golden jackals. The name wolf is derived from an Old English word 'wulf'. The roots of this word come from the Proto-Germanic word 'wulfaz'. The scientific name is derived from Latin where 'canis' means 'dog' and 'lupus' means 'wolf'. The name was given by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist in 1785. Wolves were not always this famous or well-liked. Initially, they were thought to be ugly creatures and were hunted often. A report published in 2018 states that the gray wolf population is between 200,000–250,000. Did you know, there are around five subspecies in North America, and 12 subspecies found in Eurasia?

To know more such interesting facts go through the content that we have curated for you. Once you have finished this article do check out our other related articles on are wolves dangerous and why do wolves howl.

Different Types Of Wolves and Their Speeds

Wolves are one of the most carnivorous animals, known for their spine shivering howls. According to the ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), there are two most common species of wolf and around 40 wolf subspecies. The main species is the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the common subspecies is the red wolf.

Wolves travel and hunt in large packs consisting of 8-15 members. The dominant wolves of the pack are called the alpha pair, the ones next in line to take the alpha place are called the beta pair followed by the ones in the middle ranks, and the wolves at the last rank are called the omega wolves. The mate of the alpha is called the luna. The alpha male leads the pack. They can travel long distances, covering up to 12 mi (19 km) per day. Wolves normally travel at a moderate speed such as 5 mph (8 kph). This helps them cover long distances. Once they spot prey, short bursts of high-speed running helps them reach their prey instantly. These bursts cannot be used over long distances.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is the most common wolf. They stand 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) tall and weigh between 40-75 lb (18.1-34 kg). They are named after the thick gray fur they possess. Other variations including white and black are also found. Gray wolves run at a speed of 31-37.2 mph (50-60 kph). The lifespan of male gray wolves is longer than that of female gray wolves. The former can live up to 16 years in the wild and the latter can live up to 14 years in the wild. Lifespan can be reduced dramatically in captivity. They mostly don't do well in captivity due to the restriction of movement and diet. But with proper care and regular checkups, they can thrive in captivity.

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is a cross between a coyote and a gray wolf. It is said to be a subspecies of the gray wolf. The red wolf is often mistaken for a western coyote due to the similarities in color and size. The red wolf can run at a speed of 46 mph (28.5 kph). Adult red wolves weigh between 45-80 lb (20.4-36.2 kg). In the wild the lifespan of this species is around is four to five years. In captivity, they can live up to 14 years.

Other subspecies like the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)and Indian wolf can run at a speed of 40 mph (64.3 kph) and 36-38 mph (57.9-61.1 kph) respectively. The American wolf is the smallest wolf species.

The Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) found throughout the peninsular regions and the Tibetan wolf spread throughout the upper Himalayan range can travel at a speed of 27.9 mph (45 kph).

Did you know, in Alaska and Canada the wild wolf packs had as many as 20 members, some even had 30 members?

What is the fastest wolf in the world?

Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) a subspecies of the gray wolf, is one of the fastest wolves in the world.

The Arctic wolf is widely spread across regions of North America like Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. The nickname, the white wolf, comes from the thick white fur these wolves possess. It is very similar to the northwestern wolf. Generally, wolves are afraid of humans, but the Arctic wolf is an exception. These wild wolves do not fear humans and can approach us out of curiosity. The movement of these wolves is one of the most understudied topics. This is mainly because they migrate in complete darkness. The climate also plays a role in this. Arctic wolves look through garbage to find food. The variety of food is restricted due to climatic conditions. For the most part, they eat muskox and Arctic hares. They also eat deer. An adult Arctic wolf can weigh up to 120 lb (54.4 kg) and can be 3 ft (0.9 m) tall. The size of male and female wolves can vary. The life span of Arctic wolves in the wild can be between 7-10 years.

Wolves use urine to mark their territories. The smell can be detected by other wolves. Artic wolves faced a huge decline in population in the '70s. A decline in the number of musk ox and mountain deer, two of the major animals they eat and other climatic conditions, were the reasons. The population recovered immediately over the next few years.

Tundra Wolf walking in the winter snow

Can a human outrun a wolf?

A human outrunning a wolf might sound crazy but it is actually possible. Wolves are with no doubt one of the fastest animals. The fastest wolf, the Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) can run at a speed of 46 mph (74 kph) while the maximum speed at which a human can run is 27 mph (45 kph). It might look like mammals have an advantage as they use all four of their legs to travel, unlike humans.

Even though wolves are fast they, just like other mammals, can only make short bursts or sprints. Humans are comparatively sloppy when it comes to sprinting. Over time a human can outrun a wolf, thanks to our stamina and sweat glands that are well equipped for endurance running. We have over 2 million sweat glands in our bodies. These sweat glands act as a cooling factor. When we run, we sweat and produce heat. A large number of sweat glands help our body cool down quickly which aids in covering long distances without needing much rest. Contrary to this, animals like wolves and dogs, are only capable of covering shorter distances at greater speeds due to the sweat glands which are less effective and they mostly pant rather than sweating. Their bodies heat up quickly stopping them from proceeding further.

This is not our only advantage. When we run a lot of kinetic energy is produced. This is due to gravity that pulls us down every time we take a step off the ground. Our legs have exclusive tendons and muscles. These tendons and muscles are very springy. The springy structures help convert kinetic energy into potential energy which is stored for later usage. This energy helps to push us forward. While we tend to think that we are putting in our best efforts in endurance running, half of the drive comes from the saved energy. Other animals lack such special adaptions. This is why a human can even outrun a cheetah over time.

How far can a wolf travel?

Gray wolves are usually seen traveling and hunting within their range. A wolf's range can vary depending on the species and on average can extend over an area of 50 sq mi (129.4 sq km). While hunting animals, like wild possums and mountain goats, wolves can travel longer than expected. Wolves are apex predators and hunt almost all other animals. They can at times take down a polar bear. This is why they travel in large packs.

Wolves are well equipped to live a life on the move. They have a body and large feet. The legs are exceptionally long helping them travel non-stop for several hours. They mainly travel long distances to find suitable prey. One that is large enough to suffice the entire pack. Wolves can travel for 30 mi (48.2 km) per day. At high speeds, they can even cover 40 mph (64.3 kph). Dispersing wolves, depending on the size, type of food they eat, and habitat can travel up to 100 mi (160.9 km).

Wolves need at least 5 lb (2.2. kg) of food per day to reproduce successfully. An adult can survive with 2-2.5 lb (0.9-1.1 kg) of food per day. A pup, in order to survive, needs to consume large amounts of food on a regular basis whereas an adult can even survive for weeks without food.

Did You Know...

A female canine is called a luna or a bitch. A male canine can be called a stud or brute. Alaska has the largest wolf population in the world with around 10,500-12,000 wolves.

A wolf's diet mainly consists of hoofed mammals like deer and mountain goats. Fruits, vegetables, and small animals like rodents also make up a small portion of a wolf's diet.

Other than humans, the only predators of wolves are tigers.

The sense of smell in wolves is 100 times better than that of humans. It can probably smell the chicken in your fridge miles away.

Canis lupus nubilus, popularly known as the buffalo wolfm occupied parts of North America. This species of wolf was declared extinct. However, this was proved wrong after a few sightings of adult buffalo wolves in the wild.

Wolves are monogamous and mate with one partner for the rest of their life. Only the breeding pair (alpha and luna) can breed. All other members are just helpers that take care of the pups and help in hunting. The omega wolves only feed on the leftovers of other members of the pack.

For wolves, the pack comes before anything. They will literally die for the pack.

A few gray wolf subspecies are now extinct. The ones that are never to be seen again are prehistoric wolves, far North wolves, new world wolves, European wolves, Honshu and Hokkaido wolves of Japan, and the Tasmanian tiger wolf.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how fast can a wolf run then why not take a look at do wolves howl at the moon, or Kenai Peninsula wolf facts pages.

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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