The scientific name for the red wolf is Canis rufus. This wolf species was identified and classified in 1851, and it only exists in North & South Carolina and Canada. Possibly in Florida.
The red wolf has been an endangered species since 1982. It was moved to the critically endangered species list in 1996 and remains there as of 2015. In North Carolina, the population of red wolves stands at around 150, with around 50 of these being breeding adults. The population is slowly increasing and there have been a few red wolves spotted in Ontario, Canada in recent years. The species population is unknown outside North Carolina, where it was reintroduced in 1987.
The red wolf is one of only two species of wolves, the other species being its bigger cousin, the gray wolf. A wolf eats up to 20 pounds of food in one meal. Red wolves eat small mammals, such as rabbits, rodents and deer, as well as insects and berries.
Red wolves are predatory canines that primarily hunt deer, rodents and rabbits. However, the wolves are extremely opportunistic, and they will eat whatever prey they can find, including raccoons, pigs, nutria and muskrats. Red wolves have few predators as adults, and they fear only humans and other canines, such as other types of wolves and coyotes
Wolves themselves are carnivores and eat a varied diet of small and large prey, depending on the area they inhabit. Wolves may eat small game such as rabbits or foxes, but a pack of wolves is capable of taking down a moose or caribou as well. Contrary to popular myth, wolves do not regularly attack humans. They will, however, kill and eat domestic animals such as (yes) smaller dogs or livestock.
To stay cool when warm weather hits, the red wolf will molt, which causes its heavy coat to fall off and a new, lighter one to grow back. The red wolf’s large ears also help release heat and cool the animal down in hot climates. Heartworm is a disease commonly seen in domestic animals like dogs and cats, as well as wolves. Heartworm disease among red wolves has been studied in comparison to dogs, and research shows the mortality rates to be lower than that of dogs, pointing to a red wolf adaptation against the disease, as stated by Florida State University Habitat Tracker.
While red wolves have few natural predators, they have evolved a number of adaptations that allow them to defend themselves from people, bears and other wolves. Their primary defensive mechanisms include their pack-forming behavior, strong sense of smell, and impressive level of endurance.