The grey wolf or gray wolf, also known as the timber wolf or simply wolf, is the largest wild member of the Canidae family.
Occasionally, single wolves are found in the wild, though packs are more common. Lone wolves are typically old specimens driven from their pack or young adults in search of new territory. Wolf packs in the northern hemisphere tend not to be as compact or unified as those of African Wild Dogs and Spotted Hyenas, though they are not as unstable as those of coyotes.Normally, the pack consists of a male, a female, and their offspring, essentially making the pack a nuclear family.The size of the pack may change over time and is controlled by several factors, including habitat, personalities of individual wolves within a pack, and food supply.
Packs can contain between 2 and 20 wolves, though 8 is a more typical size.An unusually large pack consisting of 36 wolves was reported in 1967 in Alaska.While most breeding pairs are monogamous, there are exceptions. Wolves will usually remain with their parents until the age of two years. Young from the previous season will support their parents in nursing pups of a later year. Wolf cubs are very submissive to their parents, and remain so after reaching sexual maturity. On occasion in captivity, subordinate wolves may rise up and challenge the dominant pair; such revolts may result in daughters killing mothers and sons killing fathers.This behavior has never been documented in the wild,and it is hypothesized that it only happens in captivity because dispersal is impossible.There are no documented cases of subordinate wolves challenging the leadership of their parents.Instead of openly challenging the leadership of the pack leaders, most young wolves between the ages of 1–4 years leave their family in order to search for, or start, a pack of their own.
Wolves acting unusually, such as epileptic pups or thrashing adults crippled by a trap or a gunshot, are usually killed by other members of their own pack.Asiatic and Middle Eastern wolves tend to be less inclined to socialising with any other member of their species outside their own nuclear family, passing their lives more frequently either in pairs or as social individuals, much like coyotes and dingoes.
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