Italy is home to a diverse range of wildlife. One of the animals that inhabit this country is the Italian wolf and this is a different species to the European wolf. Here are some interesting facts about this wild animal.
- The Italian wolf was identified as a sub-species in 1921 by zoologist Giuseppe Altobello.
- The Latin name for the Italian wolf is ‘canis lupus italicus’.
- They are an endangered species as there are just 500 wild Italian wolves.
- Once, this species was almost extinct die to hunting.
- Italian wolves are found in the western Alps and the Apennines.
- The Italian wolf differs to the European wolf because of the shape of its skill and the color of the pelt.
- They were only recognized as a separate species in 2002.
- The average wolf weighs approximately 30 kilograms. However, some males can weigh up to 45 kilograms.
- During the 1960s, approximately 400 wolves were killed.
- In 1971, ‘Operation Saint Francis’ was established. This was a wolf conservation program.
- The Italian wolf has played an important role in Italian mythology, including the story of Romulus and Remus.
- It was once considered good luck to see a wolf before going into battle.
- Myths relating to the Italian wolf can be traced back to the Sabine Tribe as they had a wolf cult.
- A cultural hatred of wolves stems from the Lombard invasion as the Germanic people feared wolves.
- In rural Italy, people still believed in werewolves into the 20th century.
- In folk medicine, parts of a wolf were often used in treatments for conditions including tonsillitis, rheumatism and baby colic. Wolf parts were also used to prevent miscarriages.
- Italian wolves are now also found in some areas of Switzerland and southern France.
- These animals are nocturnal hunters that prey on animals such as rabbits, hares, deer, wild boar and chamois.
- Italian wolf packs usually consist of one nuclear family.
- Mating takes place in mid-March and the gestation period is two months. A wolf will have a litter of between two and eight pups.
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