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The grey wolf is one of approximately 35 species belonging to the family Canidae which includes the coyote jackal fox and the dog This family is believed to have originated in North America 38 to 54 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch Two species- and a varying number of subspecies- of wolves are recognized the grey or timber wolf once widely distributed in North America Europe and Asia and the red wolf which now occurs only in Texas and the south-eastern United States An adult timber wolf measures up to 16m 65ft in length including the tail which is less than half the body length and may weigh up to 80kg 175lbs The animal is red- yellow or yellow- grey with black patches above and white below those in the far north however may be pure white and black or Brown timber wolves also occur The red wolf is smaller in size and usually darker in colour All wolves are characterized by powerful teeth bushy tails and round pupils and they are distinguished from domestic dogs by certain characteristics of the skullWolves are equally at home on prairies in forestlands and on all but the highest mountains In the winter they travel in packs in search of food Small animals and birds are the common prey of wolves which also eat berries but a pack may sometimes attack reindeer sheep and other large mammals usually selecting weak old or very young animals for easier capture When no prey can be found wolves feed on carrionThe den of lair of the wolf may be a cave hollow tree trunk a thicket or a hole in the ground dug by the wolf The breeding season is in the spring and the female gas a litter of one to eleven cubs Adults sometimes feed young cubs by regurgitating food for them The cubs normally stay with the parents until the following winter but may remain much longer
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