As it gets colder, we wear more layers of clothing when we venture outside. Wolves don’t need to do anything. They’re much better adapted to cold weather than we are. Thanks to their winter adaptations, wolves can live in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Their fur is the main key to this. It has two layers. Guard hairs make up the outer layer. This layer consists of hairs that grow up to four inches in length and protects from wind, rain, and snow. The undercoat is the secondary layer underneath. It’s a thick, soft layer that insulates the wolf and keeps it warm. Their paws are also protected from the elements. The blood vessels in their toes regulate the temperature in that area and keep them above freezing. This keeps snow from building up between their toes. Their feet are also wide and able to cross over snow more easily than their prey. This gives them the advantage when they’re hunting.
Arctic Wolves can go even further and survive in temperatures 30 degrees colder. These wolves have additional adaptations, like shorter legs, snouts, and ears to keep them warmer and prevent heat from escaping.
Don’t you wish you had the same adaptations as wolves to keep warm in the winter? We do!
If you’re not a cold weather fan, check out the direct opposite in Jeremy’s latest classroom lesson – all on wildfires and the impact they have on the ecosystem! Check it out here!
All the best,
Chris & the WERC Team