red wolf and different aspects related to this species. I have included information about its taxonomy, morphology & anatomy, distribution, habitat, feeding, predators, behavior, reproduction, development and economic value. Over all, I have given thorough information regarding the life and habits of the red wolf that is now an endangered animal.
The red wolf is a species of wolf that is smaller in size and its color varies from reddish gray to almost black. It is commonly known as red wolf. The red wolf is considered as the most beautiful of all the wolves on the planet (Sutton, 1998). However, it has been given the scientific name of Canis rufus. It belongs to the Family Canidae and Order Carnivora (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, p. 247). As far as the status of red wolf is concerned, it has been categorized as an endangered living creature as this species of wolf has been almost wiped out from the largest part of its range in the woodland and brush south-central countryside of the United States of America (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
According to the recent studies of their genes and morphology, it has been suggested that red wolves are not the subspecies of grey wolf but have a unique taxon. It has a chromosomal number of 2n=78 that evidently supports the idea that canis rufus has a distinctive canid taxon (Mech & Boitani, 2003, p. 225).
Morphology and Anatomy
As compared to the coyote (Canis latrans) and gray wolf (Canis lupus), red wolf is in-between in size. The males among them weigh about 22-68 kilograms. Measuring from shoulder to ground, red wolves usually have a height of about sixty to ninety centimeters (Dahl, 1997). On the other hand, female red wolves have a weight of about 19-34 kilograms.
The morphological characters of the red wolf are very different. They are distinguished by their thick hairy furs and lengthy shaggy tails (Dahl, 1997). The red wolf has a narrow and stretched out skull, rostrum that is rather thin and the front region that is flat. It also has a somewhat thin and extended postorbital constriction. The brain case of the red wolf is a bit smaller in size. The other distinguishing morphological characteristic of a red wolf is that it has a highly sensitive and strong sagittal crest. The red wolf also has elongated and lean canine teeth (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
Region and Distribution
In times gone by, red wolves inhabited the southeastern regions of United States. They are, at the present, commonly found in the Northeast part of the United States of America. They also have populations that are small in size and inhabit large cities of United States of America like New York City and Chicago. As far as the question regarding their range is concerned, the dens of the red wolves may be positioned either above the ground or underneath it (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, p. 248).
The majority of the red wolves have been hunted to an extent that has brought the species to the edge of extinction. Their current population is really low. About twenty pure red wolves were rounded up by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service during the earlier period of 1980s in order to continue their breeding. According to facts and figures in 2007, the United States was home to more or less two hundred and seven captive red wolves distributed in thirty-eight captive breeding facilities all over the country. This was only due to such programs that currently, there are more than hundred wolves living in their natural habitat also include Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. They are usually found in areas where there are ample quantities of prey and negligible human development (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, 247).
The diet of the red wolf usually comprises of small living things like rabbits, rodents, insects etc. They also like to eat berries and deer is an occasional dietary option. However, according to latest research, the main items for prey are "nutria (Myocastor coypus), rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.), and rodents (Sigmadon hispidus, Oryzomys palustris, Ondatra zibethicus)" (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, p. 248). On the other hand, the major prey of the population of red wolf that has been re-introduced in North Carolina consists of white-tailed deer, raccoon and rodents that are small in size (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, p. 248).
In general, high ground and bottom grounds of the forests, coastal plains, quagmires and marshlands are inhabited by the red wolves. These species of the wolf have a need of thick shrubbery for the protection of their denning and resting regions. Their ecology is not clear as the populations of the red wolf suffered deterioration before the ecological records could be collected and stored. This is the reason why there is a very little amount of information regarding the behavioral pattern of the red wolf in its natural place of habitation. However, after the reintroduction of the current red wolf populations, it has been observed that these species like to live in small packs socially as compared to the gray wolves that have larger packs (Kelly & Phillips, 2000).
The red wolf has a behavior that is similar to the coyote (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, 247). The red wolf principally demonstrates a nocturnal nature i.e. this species is active at the hours of darkness. Their communication is dependent on scent marking, vocalizations that include crying, howling etc. And facial looks and physical positions. Red wolves have an introverted and mysterious character (Sutton, 1998). This is the reason why they prefer to search for their prey on their own or in small packs. The packs primarily consist of a breeding adult couple i.e. An alpha male and alpha female and their brood. Their pair-bonds are long-lasting and abiding (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
The pack's size varies according to the prey population's size that is available in their region. The chain of command of governing and secondary red wolves within the pack facilitates its functioning as a unit. The dens of red wolves are usually to be found in vacant trees, along the banks of the rivers and sand mounds (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
The long legs and thin structure of red wolves make them long-distance runners. According to numerous zoologists, the long legs of this species allow it to easily course in open grounds. A majority of the red wolves hold their tails downwards at an angle of 45 degree when they stand. On the other hand, many of them hold their tails near the level of their backs. It is usually observed that their tails are raised high above their backs when they greet each other or during courtships so as to make their scent glands active. As far as their movement is concerned, red wolves are not like dogs when it comes to running. Instead, they move in a bouncing manner like a rocking horse and take pauses when the shoulders reach the highest levels. During investigation, red wolves stand up on their hind legs to analyze the sounds and noises. They do so especially when they are wandering in tall grass and weeds (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
As already mentioned, the red wolves are mostly active at night. This is because it is the time when a majority of the rabbits come out of their habitation to get their food. Red wolves usually sleep at night after getting settled in between the herd of cattle. The travels of the red wolves are limited from April to mid August to the extent that their tracks are lost. They resume travelling in the earlier period of September and hunt. The couple consisting of an alpha male and female travels together, often accompanied by another male (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
They also travel in packs (5-11 in number) but only for a temporary period. They exchange greetings and divide soon breaking up into families. They usually travel along a range that has established landing strips marked by scent posts and marks of wolf's scratches (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972). As far as their voice is concerned, it "is a compromise between that of the coyote and the lobo [C. lupus], or rather a deeper varied yap and howl of the coyote. It suggests the coyote much more than the lobo" (Paradiso & Nowak, 1972).
According to the chronological statistics and restoration information, the red wolf is the species that is monestrous in nature. It means that this species goes into estrous on one occasion every year and becomes mature (when it comes to sex) by the second year of its life in general (Kelly & Phillips, 2000, p. 247). The red wolves involve in sexual intercourse from last weeks of December to early weeks of January or last weeks of February to early weeks of March. Their offspring are usually born in the months of April, May and June. The average size of the litter…