Arabian wolf

The Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs) is a subspecies of gray wolf which was once found throughout the Arabian Peninsula, but now only lives in small pockets in Southern Israel, Southern and western Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and probably some parts of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

Features and adaptations[edit]

The Arabian wolf is a small, desert-adapted wolf that stands at around 26 inches shoulder height and weighs an average of 40 pounds. Their ears are proportionally larger in relation to body size when compared to other species, an adaptation needed to disperse body heat. Arabian wolves do not usually live in large packs, and instead hunt in pairs or in groups of about three to four animals. There is, however, footage of a pack 12 members strong.[citation needed] This subspecies is unusual, as it is not known to howl.[2] Arabian wolves have short, thin fur in summer, though the hair on their back remains long even in summer. It is thought that this is an adaptation against solar radiation. The winter coat is long, though not as long as northern subspecies. The Arabian wolf possesses no sweat glands; like other canines, they control body temperature by rapid panting which causes evaporation from the lungs.[3] Unlike other grey wolves the middle two toes of an Arabian wolf's paws are fused, a trait originally thought unique to the African wild dog.[4] It is distinguished from the Indian wolf by its paler fur, smaller size and proportionally smaller head.[5]


A lone Arabian wolf (with its winter fur) in the southern Arava desert, Israel

Arabian wolves will attack and eat any domestic animals up to the size of a goat. As a result, farmers will not hesitate to shoot, poison, or trap them. Arabian wolves also feed on hares, rodents, ungulates, and any carrion they can find.

Arabian wolves will hunt small to medium sized animals such as cape hares, Dorcas Gazelles and ibexes, though they will feed on carrion and livestock when in the vicinity of human settlements.[6]

Current status[edit]

In Oman, the wolf population has increased significantly since hunting was banned, and there is a strong possibility that they will naturally reestablish themselves in certain places within the region in the relatively near term. In Israel, there are between 100 and 150 Arabian wolves all over the Negev and the Arava. In Iraq wolves are causing a real problem to villagers and farmers since their numbers are increasing and they are becoming more aggressive and more commonly seen in villages and rural areas in Iraq.

In culture[edit]

The wolf was frequently mentioned in the Scriptures as an enemy to flocks (Sirach 13:21; Matthew 7:15), and an emblem of treachery and ferocity, and bloodthirstiness. The tribe of Benjamin, owing to its warlike character, was often compared to a wolf in the Old and New Testament of the Bible.


  1. ^ "Canis lupus arabs". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 27 October 2007. 
  2. ^ Lopez, Barry (1978). Of wolves and men. p. 320. ISBN 0-7432-4936-4. 
  3. ^ Harrington, Fred H. and Paquet, Paul C. (1982). Wolves of the World: Perspectives of Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. p. 474. ISBN 0-8155-0905-7. 
  4. ^ Macdonald, David (1992). The Velvet Claw. p. 256. ISBN 0-563-20844-9. 
  5. ^ Bright, Michael (2006). Beasts of the Field: The Revealing Natural History of Animals in the Bible. p. 346. ISBN 1-86105-831-4. 
  6. ^ Hefner, Reuven and Geffen, Eli (1999). "Group Size and Home Range of the Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus) in Southern Israel". Journal of Mammalogy 80 (2): 611–619. doi:10.2307/1383305. JSTOR 1383305. 
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