Source: D4K: “Wolves"
Visit theD4K companion Web site to learn more about Wolves: D4K: “Wolves"
This video segment from IdahoPTV's D4K explains the difference between predator and prey by learning the life history and adaptations of wolves. Learn about a wolf's special eyes, ears, teeth, fur, paws, skull, smell and why they hunt in packs.
[JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN] Some animals like elk eat plants. Other animals like this red tail hawk eat animals. Any animal who hunts another animal for food is called a predator. It's easy to feel sorry for the animal being chased. That animal is called the prey animal. A prey animal is any animal big or small with fins or feathers who must avoid being eaten by another animal. Sounds tough, huh? Well, it's not easy being a predator either. Did you know that a predator may hunt 9 or 10 times before it catches any prey?
[JOAN] Can you imagine -
[MAN ANNOUNCING] [Here you go, pizza!]
[CHILDREN YELLING] [YAYYYYYYY!]
[JOAN] If you ordered a pizza and 9 times in a row the box was empty - 9 times in a row you didn't get any dinner?
[CHILDREN ] [OHHHHHHH]
[JOAN] That's what it's like for predators. Wolves are predators. They can go hungry for days. The reason it's so hard for predators to catch food is because prey animals have adapted in many ways to protect themselves. But predators have adaptations too and this helps predators to live in the wild. Wolves have fur that can be any color from black or gray to shades of brown and white. It keeps them warm but also protects the wolf from rain and brush.
In the winter their coats develop short fuzzy hairs beneath the longer courser guard hairs. These smaller hairs serve as insulation through the colder seasons. Wolves have very large paws. Their big feet work like snow shoes in the winter allowing the animal to run swiftly over the top of the snow after their prey. And big paws are also an advantage when a wolf is digging a den from sand or gravel.
This wolf's skull shows other special adaptations. Wolves have 42 teeth. The large canine teeth can be one and a half inches long. These canines are the tools that help a wolf hold its prey. The front incisors are used to pull meat away from the bone and the back teeth are for cutting and chewing, much like human teeth. There are also some large molars in the back. The wolf's powerful jaw muscles help these larger molars crush bones.
Like dogs and other canines, wolves have a keen sense of hearing. They can pick up noises of a human from a mile away. Also, a wolf can move its ears independently to focus on sounds coming from other directions.
Wolves have excellent night vision and although they probably don't see color the same way humans do, wolves are much better at detecting movement.T
heir sense of smell is equally amazing. A wolf can pick up a scent from over a mile away. Wolves hunt in packs. This way they can kill prey bigger than themselves like deer and elk. The hunters of the pack are usually the strongest and fittest wolves.
The older wolves and young pups are left behind but when the prey is caught the hunters bring it back and all the wolves share in the feast. It's kind of like when your mom comes home from the grocery store.
[CHILDREN YELLING] [All right, cookies!]
[JOAN] Spring is the denning season. Every member of the pack helps to raise the pups. This is unusual in mammals but it's a basic part of the social structure of the wolf pack.
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