Red Wolves are only one of two species of wolves in the world, the other one being the Gray Wolf. Red wolves have several coat colors including black, brown, gray, and yellow. The reddish coats for which they are named was typical of some Texan populations.
As medium-sized canines, red wolves are smaller and more slender than their gray wolf cousins, but larger than coyotes. Adult males weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Females are smaller and weigh 40 to 60 pounds.
Red wolves prefer to live in forests, swamps and coastal prairies. Dens are often located in hollow trees, stream banks and sand knolls.
Historically, red wolves ranged throughout the southeastern United States from Pennsylvania to Florida and as far west as Texas. Today, only a few wolves roam free in the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and nearby Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.
The red wolf's diet consists primarily of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents but also includes insects, berries and occasionally deer. Shy and secretive, red wolves hunt alone or in small family packs. The red wolf is primarily nocturnal (active at night).
Females generally give birth to three to six pups after a gestation period of 60 to 63 days. The parents and older members of the pack help to protect and care for the young. Adults mate between February and March of every year. Both males and females help raise their young. When the young are about 6 months old they are mature enough to leave home.
The other species is the larger Gray Wolf. In 1973 they were declared an endangered species and in 1980 the USFWS officially declared the Red Wolf extinct in the wild. However the USFWS captured 17 red wolves prior to 1980 and has used an extensive breading program in over 38 zoos and nature centers around the US to bring their numbers back to around 265 individuals as of August 2005. In 1987 the Red Wolf was reintroduced first into the wilds of North Carolina and it is estimated that there are over 100 Red Wolves in the wild now. Another 165 or so are still in the captive breeding programs.
Threats to the red wolf include habitat loss because of human development and illegal hunting.
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