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What Is the Steppe Wolf?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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The steppe wolf, or Canis lupus campestris, is believed to be a subspecies of the European gray wolf, Canis lupus lupus. These wolves can usually be found on the plains of Eurasia, the Ural mountain regions, and the plains of the Caucasus region. They also sometimes venture further south into Iran and Afghanistan, as well as into Eastern Europe. The typical steppe wolf weighs between 77 and 88 pounds (35 to 40 kilos), and is usually grayish, brownish or blackish in color. They usually live in social groups known as packs and feed on fruits, rodents, fish, and herd animals.

European gray wolf sub-species such as the steppe wolf probably evolved into their present form about 150,000 years ago. These wolves are usually lighter in color on their sides, with darker gray or brown backs, sometimes also speckled with black. They are considered one of the smaller species of European wolf. This species also usually has fur that is thinner, shorter, and less finely textured than other European wolf species.

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Like most other wolf species, the steppe wolf lives in closely knit social groups. There is generally one dominant male and one dominant female in each pack. This pair of wolves will usually be the only members of the pack to breed and produce pups. Other members of the pack will normally contribute to the care of the pups. Experts believe that, in this manner, wolf packs are able to perpetuate themselves without rendering too many members of the pack vulnerable due to pregnancy, birth, and the rearing of young.

Wolves like the steppe wolf will sometimes hunt in packs, though wolves have been known to hunt individually as well. Steppe wolves have been known to kill more prey than they or their packs can actually eat, especially Caspian seals. In general, the steppe wolf subsists on herd animals, which it typically hunts in pack formation, or rodents and fish. They have been known to feed on berries and other wild fruits.

These wolves may breed at any time of the year from January to April, depending on the weather patterns in their specific area. The pregnant female will carry her young for about 63 days. The typical litter of steppe wolf pups contains between four and seven wolf pups.

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