The arctic wolf is different to other wolves; for one, his coat is pure white and extremely thick. He is the most northerly dwelling wolf of them all, inhabiting remote parts of Alaska, Canada and Greenland, rarely further south than 67 degrees north latitude, and his habitat influences his behavior and development in a number of ways. These wolves inhabit glaciers, ice fields, hills, lakes and coastlines across the Arctic region.
The Benefits of Isolation
Arctic wolves are a rare example of a lupine to whom deforestation and urbanization are not a threat. Because of their remote, isolated habitats, they are relatively undisturbed by man. They inhabit some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth and are quite at home wandering the expansive icy landscape of the Arctic. It is therefore quite unlikely that they encounter predators, although polar bears do occasionally kill and eat them. He rarely encounters humans and lives a life free from the threat of hunting.
For most of the year, the arctic wolf habitat is covered in thick ice. Unlike their cousins, the grey wolves and timber wolves who live further south in warmer climates, the arctic wolves are unable to dig through the frozen ground to create dens. For this reason, they shelter in caves and outcrops and among trees.
The Presence of Food
The Arctic is a vast and barren continent. Much of it lies empty. The presence of prey animals determines where the arctic wolf makes his home. If there's no vegetation on which arctic hares, musk oxen and caribou might survive, the arctic wolf will most likely not be present. Many arctic wolf populations live near the sea, where they feed on seals and seabirds. Because food is less abundant in the Arctic, litters are typically smaller (two to three pups) than those of more southerly dwelling wolves (five to seven pups), although some female arctic wolves do have larger litters.
Dealing with the Cold
The temperature in the Arctic regularly drops below -30 degrees Fahrenheit, and since arctic wolves can’t build dens, they rely on their extremely thick coats for warmth. They have shorter legs, stouter bodies, shorter muzzles and smaller ears than other wolves, which enables them to better retain their body heat.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.