Mexican Gray Wolf

Canis lupus baileyi

About the Mexican Gray Wolf


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia  
Order: Carnivora  
Family: Canidae  
Genus: Canis  
Species: lupus baileyi

The smallest subspecies of wolf, Mexican gray wolves, or “Lobos” as they’re called in Spanish, have fur that is tan, silver and black. Mexican gray wolves are highly social, living in packs of three to eight with a complex social hierarchy. They are very vocal animals, using barks, howls, growls, whines and whimpers to communicate. Howls are used to assemble pack members and advertise territory. Wolves have individual, distinctive howls.


Wolf Facts

Mexican gray wolves are the smallest subspecies of wolf. They have a smaller narrower skull than other wolves. Their fur ranges from tan to silver and black.

Length: 4 to 5.5 feet
Height: 2.3 to 2.7 feet at the shoulder
Weight: 70 to 90 pounds

Mexican gray wolves prey on deer, wild pig, small birds, mammals and eggs.

Mexican gray wolves live in packs generally consisting of three to eight individuals. Their social hierarchy is led by an alpha male and female. They defend territories whose size is based on food availability. Territories are defined with scent marks placed on trees and rocks and by howls that alert nearby packs to the other pack's presence. Within the pack, howls are used to keep track of each other’s positions.

Mexican gray wolves breed at the end of winter, usually from January to March, although individuals in more southern ranges may breed earlier. In most cases, only the alpha male and female mate. After a 63-day gestation period the mother gives birth to four to six pups. Pack members will carry food to the alpha female and her pups in the den. Pups reach sexual maturity in 2.5 years.

Mexican gray wolves are adapted to live in woodlands and mountainous areas. They once ranged in western Texas, southern New Mexico and Arizona, and northern and central Mexico. More recently, they've been released in conservation parks in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico to help in their recovery.

Median Life Expectancy:
11 years

Habitat loss, illegal hunting and trapping are the primary threats to Mexican gray wolves. Habitat loss pushes them into closer proximity to livestock herders who then poison, trap or hunt them to protect their livestock. Today there are only a few parks that have Mexican gray wolves; even there, illegal hunting has reduced their dwindling populations.