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What Is an Indian Wolf?

By Bethney Foster
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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An Indian wolf, a native species of the desert-like habitats of India, is considered to be a subspecies of the gray wolf and the same species as the Iranian wolf, although research has indicated that this relatively small wolf might be a completely separate canid species. Many experts believe that the Indian wolf might be the species from which domestic dogs evolved. On a darker note, however, the Indian wolf also is the type of wolf best known for attacking and killing humans, and it has a reputation for stealing infants and small children from human settlements.

Classified now as Canis lupus pallipes, research has indicated that the Indian wolf might be Canis indica, an entirely separate species. Genetic testing has indicated that the Indian wolf has not bred with another subspecies of wolf in hundreds of thousands of years. Its natural habitat is also inhabited by the Himalayan wolf, and researchers are uncertain about why the two types of wolves have not interbred. Although it is often thought to be the same species as the Iranian wolf, Canis lupus pallipes, the Indian wolf is usually smaller than this subspecies of gray wolf.

Standing about 2 feet (61 cm) tall at its shoulders, the Indian wolf weighs about 40 pounds (18..1 kg), although individuals might be as tall as 38 inches (96.5 cm) and weigh as much as 60 pounds (27.2 kg). The coat of the wolf has a red color and might include some darker black patches or white markings. The Indian wolf rarely howls, leading researchers to think that the species is less territorial than other types of wolves. It hunts in loosely formed packs at night.

The wolf's natural diet consists of rabbits, rodents and other smaller wildlife. With habitat loss and the decline of prey, these wolves have been drawn to livestock. It is estimated that as few as 2,000 individuals might have existed in the wild as of 2011. Although this type of wolf has been listed as an endangered species since 1972, little has been done to enforce protection because of its propensity of preying on livestock and its reputation for attacking children.

The pack's lead female and male will mate in October, after the rainy season. The female will give birth to a litter of three to five puppies in an underground den in late December. During the three months before she brings them out to join the pack, she will move the puppies between various underground dens several times. When the puppies are brought out, other wolves in the pack will help care for them.

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