Wolf Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Wolves have several physical and behavioral adaptations that allow them to survive and thrive in their environment. Come and learn about some of these adaptations in this lesson.

Catching, Eating and Digesting Food

Did you know that a wolf's jaws have 500 pounds of pressure per square inch? This means that with one biteā€¦SNAP! The neck of their prey breaks!

The adaptation of such a powerful jaw comes in handy when a wolf hunts. Additionally, a wolf has particular strategies when hunting. For example, a wolf will normally perform a sneak attack and approach the prey from the back or side. This way, they never see it coming.

Other physical adaptations make eating and digesting food easier for a wolf. For example, a wolf's stomach is able to store up to 20 pounds of food. This means that a wolf doesn't have to eat very often as he or she may feel full for longer periods of time, sometimes up to two weeks. Additionally, a wolf has teeth that are built to rip pieces of meat clean off the bone. Have you ever eaten a chicken wing and had a hard time reaching some of the pieces of meat? Wolves don't have that problem.

Check out those teeth!

Fur Coat

While it can be fun to pet furry animals, this is not why wolves have fur coats. In fact, their fur serves multiple practical purposes. For one thing, the fur coat helps a wolf to stay warm. When you get cold, you wrap up in a blanket or put on a coat. Woolly coats provide wolves with built-in blankets. They also have a layer of fat underneath their coats that helps with insulation.

Not only do the fur coats keep wolves warm, they also keep them dry. This is because the fur is oily, and the water just runs off their coats. The fur is also snow proof and gets thicker during cold weather.

Four Paws

Why do you think wolves walk on their tiptoes? An animal that walks on its toes is a digitigrade. This adaptation helps wolves to run fast and far. In fact, wolves can run up to 40 miles per hour. At the bottom of their paws are fleshy pads, which keep them from slipping on wet surfaces. Wolves also have claws that they can spread out in order to help them walk through snow.

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