Red Wolf
Canis rufus

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Canidae

Averages 55 lbs. (Ranges from 50-75 lbs.)

Originally found in much of the southern U.S. and into Mexico, roaming virgin forests from Texas to Florida and north into the Carolinas and the Ohio Valley.

Wild - Small mammals such as nutria, rabbits, rats, muskrat, and raccoon. Occasionally eat turles, insects, frogs, fish, and even some plant material.

Zoo - Dry dog food and canine diet.

Generally a loner. (Is not as solitary as a coyote, but much less gregarious than the pack-living gray wolf). Red wolves will travel in small groups, but do not subdue prey, as is necessary with the gray wolf.


  • The red wolf is a distant cousin to the gray wolf (canis lupus) and the coyote (canis latrans).
  • All offspring in captivity have come from 14 original animals captures from the wild and selected for the breeding program (1977).
  • Mammalogist, E.A. Goldman, described the three subspecies of red wolf recognized today as:
    • Canis rufus floridanus - wiped out around 1910
    • Canis rufus rufus - The Texan form was gone by the early 1950s
    • Canis rufus gregoryi - The Mississippi Valley red wolf and the only surviving subspecies.
  • Basically nocturnal with the highest level of activity being from 8 pm to midnight. Tendency toward diurnal activity during the winter.

Gestation for red wolf is 60-63 days. Pups born in April or May. Litter ranging from 2-6 pups.

In the wild, they will establish dens in hollow tree trunks, stream banks, former dens of other animals, and in coastal areas on sand knolls. Denning has been reported in drain pipes, culverts, and the banks of irrigation ditches.

Critically endangered due to being hunted in an attempt to wipe out predators and also due to habitat loss.


  • U.S. Fish and Wildlif Service, Stats Summary: The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) Endangered Species Report 7
  • The Zoogoer, Volume 20, Number 1, Friends of the National Zoo
  • Walker's Mammals of the World, Fifth Edition, Vol. II