Red Wolf

Red Wolf          Canis rufus

Type of Animal:

Forests, swamps, coastal prairies, woodlands, wetlands, bushlands, scrub forest, mountainous areas

N.E. N. Carolina. Historically, most of S.E. U.S. N. to Ohio River Valley/C. Pennsylvania & W. to C. Texas & S.E. Missouri.

Reddish/dark gray/brownish coloration w/ long tail, smaller than gray wolf/larger than coyote, black nose, rufous ears, some black on back.

Rabbits, hares, rodents, pigs, otters, foxes, goats, sheep, coyote pups, bear cubs, deer, domestic alpacas/llamas, insects, berries, birds, carrion, raccoons, cattle, domestic foals, domestic dogs, domestic/feral cats, bobcats, turtles

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks. Reintroduction programs into N.E. N. Carolina.

Family packs of monogamous alpha pair w/ 1-2 litters of pups, 4-7 pups in litter. Sometimes 1-3 subordinates in pack, typically siblings of alpha pair (males brothers of alpha male & females sisters of alpha female).

Additional Info:


Male-50-60 lbs
Female-44-50 lbs
Young-10 lbs

2 months 

Life Span:
8-10 years in wild, 12-14 years in captivity

Male-1.3 ft
Female-1.25 ft

Body Length:
Male-4.6 ft
Female-4.3 ft

Tail Length:
0.83-1.16 ft

Only predators of adults are alligators. Coyotes & bears prey on pups.

Critically endangered due to persecution as livestock/pet killer, climate change, habitat loss, deforestation, disease, deaths from motor vehicles, hunting for fur, & interbreeding w/ coyotes.

Back in 1980, fewer than 20 red wolves rounded up by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for captive breeding. As of 2017, approximately 250 red wolves reside at 43 institutions in N. America. Thanks to diligent efforts of zoos/conservation centers, at least 100 red wolves have been successfully reintroduced into Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge & Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in N.E. N. Carolina. However, they’re still critically endangered. More of these wolves are in N. American facilities than in wild.

Some captive-born red wolf pups have been placed w/ wild parents & their pups in method known as “cross-fostering.” It has helped reintroduction efforts.

Like other canines, they mark territory w/ urine.

Most active at dusk & dawn. More active during nighttime rather than daytime.

Reintroduction attempt into Great Smoky Mountains National Park from 1992-1998 was cancelled due to diseases contracted from domestic dogs & inability of packs to establish territories.

Howling also used to proclaim territory.

Sexually mature at 1 year old.

Fun Fact(s):
Known to be very shy & elusive in the wild.

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