- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Canidae
- Genus: Canis
- Species: Canis lupus
Height: Head and body, 36 to 63 in (91 to 160 cm); Tail, 13 to 20 in (33 to 51 cm)
Weight: 40 to 175 lbs (18 to 79 kg)
Lifespan: Average of 5-6 years, but up to 15 years.
- Fur color of gray wolves varies geographically, ranging from pure white in Arctic populations, to mixtures of white with gray, brown, cinnamon, and black to nearly uniform black in some color phases.
- Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey such as elk, deer, moose and caribou, as well as beaver, rabbits and other small prey.
- Wolves develop strong social bonds within their packs. The social heirarchy is established and maintained through aggressiveness, elaborate greetings, and submission.
- The gray wolf is the largest wild canine.
- Gray wolves communicate using vocalizations, scent marking, and body language. Howling is used to communicate territorial cues over long distances and helps to bring the pack back together when they are dispersed. Each wolf has a distinct howl.
- Wolves play a key role in keeping ecosystems healthy. They help keep deer and elk populations in check, which can benefit many other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, like grizzly bears and scavengers. Scientists are just beginning to fully understand the positive ripple effects that wolves have on ecosystems.