The beauty and intelligence of the black wolf has captivated people for ages. In this lesson, discover for yourself some interesting facts about the black wolf!

The Black Wolf

Imagine that you’re a scientist walking alone in a dark forest looking and searching for a majestic creature, a creature that symbolizes freedom and strength, but also one that must be respected and at times feared. You step out of the woods and look across an open field. There it is: a powerful black wolf, illuminated by the full moon. What is it about these animals that have you so captivated?

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Color and History

The black wolf is really just a color variation on the gray wolf. Scientists have discovered that the black color is not a natural color for a wolf. Instead, the black fur comes from the genetic makeup of the domestic dog. What does that mean? It means that somewhere in history, scientists don’t exactly know when, dark-colored domestic dogs bred with the gray wolf. Scientists also believe that this cross between a wolf and a domestic dog happened somewhere in North America because it has the largest population of black wolves.

Appearance & Weight

Black wolves look like a mix between a German Shepard and a Malamute. They have a sharp nose and pointed ears, but it is their penetrating eyes that are most captivating. These wolves usually grow to somewhere between 60 and 140 pounds, with males being bigger than females. The largest wolf ever recorded was a black wolf living in Yellowstone National Park that weighed in at 143 pounds.

Wolves are covered by big tufts of fur that help them survive in even the harshest of habitats, or natural homes. Black wolves can be found in almost every type of habitat from the Arctic tundra to a desolate desert.

Hunting Techniques

Did you know that ancient Native American warriors mimicked the hunting techniques of wolves? Native Americans saw wolves as very intelligent creatures and great teachers. Black wolves are carnivores or meat eaters, and Native Americans admired how the wolves would hunt large animals such as deer, moose, or even bison by working together. Wolves work as a team to sneak up and surround their prey, and when close, attack or give chase as they can run at a rate of 40 miles per hour for great distances.

Family & Pack Life

Black wolves live in packs of around seven or eight wolves. These packs consist of a hierarchy or arrangement of importance, with the alpha male and female being in charge. These two pack leaders determine the location of the pack’s den or home and do most of the scouting and hunting. The rest of the pack is made up of the children from the alpha leaders.

Pack members communicate with each other through body language, growling, howling, and even scent marking. The pack works together to take care of the cutest members, the pups, who learn through play and fighting.

Due to lack of food, habitat destruction, and over hunting, wolves became nearly extinct. In 1969, gray wolves, including black wolves, were placed on the endangered species list. Efforts were made to make wolf hunting illegal and reintroduce them into protected areas like Yellowstone National Park. Wolves have made a great comeback and are thriving again.

Lesson Summary

Black wolves or black furred gray wolves are carnivorous hunters that can be found in almost any habitat. They are very intelligent creatures that work together within a pack hierarchy to meet each other’s needs. Wolves have made a major comeback since being put on the endangered species list in 1969.