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Types of Wolves: Ethiopian Wolf

© written by Tasha Guenther

Ethiopian Wolf
Ethiopian Wolf; Photographer, Petr Meissner;
used with permission under C.C. BY 2.0

The Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is one of the rarest wolves to see in the wild. It is also endangered (at risk of no longer existing) and endemic (this means it only lives in one area in the world, the Ethiopian Highlands).

Because these wolves live only in these small pockets of rocky mountain range, 88 percent of their diet consists of rodents like mice and giant molerats, which they dig out of the ground with their long legs and noses--to find this out, scientists had to examine their poop... Ew!

Like most wolves, the Ethiopian wolf is on the endangered species list. Luckily, however, these wolves are protected from hunting and poaching by law in Ethiopia. By the way, Ethiopia is an African country just south of Egypt on the northeastern coast of the continent.

It is easy to distinguish the Ethiopian wolves from other wolves: they have thin, long pointed ears, a thin, long pointed snout, and thin, long legs. They are very thin and very long. As well, they have a bright red coloured coat, with patches of white along the chest and legs, and a distinctive black tail. Interestingly, the alpha female Ethiopian wolf will turn a pale yellow colour when she is pregnant--this makes it very easy for scientists to track breeding and mating activity!

Unlike other wolf packs, the Ethiopian wolf hunts alone! It is still a very social wolf, living in complex pack organizations of usually three to 15 wolves per pack. An Ethiopian wolf pack will gather together approximately two to three times per day, while the rest of their time is spent scrounging for rodents among the hilly mountains.

Fun fact: the Ethiopian wolf is the only wolf found in all of Africa! This is amazing because this wolf is found in the small, enclosed area of the Ethiopian Highlands. How did it get there and why does it stay there?

What do you think?