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Canis lupus arctos

Canis lupus arctos (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Ordo: Carnivora
Subordo: Caniformia
Familia: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus
Subspecies: Canis lupus arctos


Canis lupus arctos (Pocock, 1935)

Vernacular names
Dansk: Polarulv
Deutsch: Polarwolf
English: Arctic wolf
Español: Lobo ártico
Français: Loup arctique
Italiano: Lupo artico
Nederlands: Poolwolf
‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Polarulv
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Arktisk ulv
Polski: Wilk polarny
Português: Lobo Árctico


* Canis lupus arctos on Mammal Species of the World.
Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2 Volume Set edited by Don E. Wilson, DeeAnn M. Reeder
* Canis lupus arctos Report on ITIS

The Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos), also called Polar Wolf or White Wolf, is a species of mammal of the family Canidae, and a subspecies of the Gray Wolf. Arctic Wolves inhabit the Canadian Arctic, Alaska and the northern parts of Greenland.


See also: Gray Wolf behavior and physiology

Habitat and distribution

The Arctic Wolf inhabits the northern part of Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and parts of Alaska. They have lived in North America for more than two million years. When they find a den, they make a couple of chambers for food and young. Arctic wolves live on the islands of the Canadian Arctic, and the north coast of Greenland, roughly north of 70° North latitude. The Arctic Wolf is the only subspecies of the Gray Wolf that still can be found over the whole of its original range, largely because, in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter humans.

Their habitat is extremely harsh and remote, and few scientists venture into that world during the long, dark winter – even the vast majority of Inuit live further south than the Arctic wolf. As a result, the details of their lives through much of the year are virtually unknown.


The Arctic Wolf is one of the few mammals that can withstand the arctic weather. It can survive in sub-zero temperatures for years, in absolute darkness for five months per year, and without food for weeks. Arctic Wolves usually travel in packs of 2 to 20. They live in small family groups: a breeding pair (alpha male and female) and their pups. The pack works together to feed and care for their pups. Lone Arctic Wolves are young males that have left their pack to seek their own territories. They avoid other wolves, unless they are able to mate. Having found an abandoned territory, a lone Arctic Wolf will claim it by marking the territory with its scent, then gather other lone wolves into its pack. When the female is pregnant, she leaves the pack to dig a den to raise her pups. If the ice is too thick, she will move to a den or cave.


Like all wolves, Arctic Wolves hunt in packs, preying mainly on Caribou and Muskoxen, but also Arctic Hares, seals, ptarmigan and lemmings, and smaller animals such as waterfowl.[1] To eat rodents they must pick up their scent and find the entrance to their tiny dens to flush them out. Wolves almost never attack humans. Due to the scarcity of prey, they roam large areas, up to 2,600 km2 (1,000 sq mi), and follow migrating caribou south during the winter. They are not fast runners, instead relying on stamina to take down prey.[2]

They kill their prey with a bite on the neck. Adult wolves have 42 teeth, their main weapon in hunting. They swallow food in large chunks, barely chewing it. They eat all of their prey, including the bones. Wolves can eat up to 20 pounds (9 kg) of meat at one meal. When they return from the hunt, wolves regurgitate some of the food for the hungry pups.[3]

A pack of Arctic Wolves in Toronto Zoo

See also: Gray Wolf reproductive physiology and life cycle

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. After gestation of about 63 days to 75 days, birth is in late May to early June, about a month later than Gray Wolves. The mother gives birth to 2 or 3 pups, though there may be as many as 12. This is fewer pups than Gray Wolves, which have four to five. It is generally thought that the lower number is due to the scarcity of prey in the Arctic. Pups are born blind and deaf, and weigh about one pound. They are dependent on their mother for food and protection. When they are three weeks old, they are allowed outside the den. Other wolves in the pack may take care of the mother’s pups until she returns with food.[4]


* L. David Mech (text), Jim Brandenburg (photos), At home with the Arctic wolf, National Geographic Vol. 171 No. 5 (May 1987), pp. 562–593
* L. David Mech, The Arctic wolf: 10 years with the pack, Voyageur Press 1997, ISBN 0-89658-353-8


1. ^ Morelle, Rebecca (2009-01-31). "Elusive wolves caught on camera". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7213731.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
2. ^ Wolf traits
3. ^ Arctic Wolf
4. ^ Wolf facts

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License