: Each wolf belongs to a pack, and each pack
belongs to a leader. There is a male
leader in a pack, (alpha male and alpha female). The alpha female is in charge of the females in the pack
, and helps the alpha male make sure the other wolves follow the alpha male’s rules. A wolf pack normally sleeps during the middle
of a day, but is out and about in early morning
and evening. If you see the tracks of a wolf pack, it is hard to see how many wolves there were because the pack travels in a single
file line, each wolf stepping into the tracks of the one ahead of it, so in the end, it looks like the tracks of a single wolf
, not a whole pack.
Wolves don’t have the right shape of mouth to talk, so they use the sounds they can make, and body language to communicate. For example, a threat may be a growl, a snarl, bared teeth, a wrinkled nose, a raised tail, fluffed out fur, or a hard stare. But there are also signs of affection, such as licking.
Many wolves howl.It’s a beautiful singing cry. Wolves howl for different reasons; a pack of wolves may howl to warn other packs they are there, and this is their territory, or they might howl to celebrate the birth of new born pups. A pack of wolves also howls to keep in touch during a hunt, (although one might say this could scare away the prey). When a wolf leaves a pack, it howls its good-byes, and then it may howl to attract a mate to start a pack of it’s own. After all, only the alpha male and female of a pack are allowed to mate. Sometimes wolves will answer humans if they howl like wolves.
Wolves are beautiful animals. Have you ever seen the northern lights? They flash greens, blues, purples and oranges. Wolves gather around to watch this spectacle of nature. Some native North Americans believed that these lights were wolves bounding from the sky, to the earth.
Food: In the wild food isn’t just “there” like most people may be used to; it’s scarce, you have to go hunting for it, you have to hunt it down. A pack of wolves can’t just open up a fridge, and pull out some leftover pizza or some canned soup, they need to find their prey, and kill it. Determination. Hunting keeps wolves very busy.
Though wolves are hunters, from time to time they nibble on berries, or bits of grass. A lone wolf must go for easy targets; such as mice, squirrels, rabbits and birds, but if it is a pack of wolves, they may go for larger prey such as deer, moose, buffaloes and musk-ox. Prey may be hard to catch, but a wolf’s life depends on the success of the hunt, so they must develop different strategies to make a kill. A pack may take turns chasing the animal to tire it out, or trap the prey by forming a circle. Sometimes one half of the pack may chase the prey towards the other half. After a successful hunt, the leader of the pack gets the first choice of meat. The leader needs to be well-fed and strong to lead the pack. After a meal, the wolves are all tiered from chasing down the prey, so the leader picks a resting place.
Left-over meat is sometimes buried to be preserved for times when hunting is poor, or brought back to young pups who are too young to hunt with the pack. There are times when wolves don’t have to worry too much about left-overs; ravens are known to sometimes snatch food from wolves, sometimes right out of their mouths!
Habitat: Wolves either live in the forest, or in the Arctic. Wolves that live in the Arctic are called Tundra wolves. Each pack of wolves has their own territory. A wolf territory should have lots of food and plenty of shelter. Sometimes a pack can own a space up to the size of a large city! Even 5 000 square kilometers. Inside their territory, the wolves often travel up to twenty miles a day, hunting and tending to their family.
There are wolves in the United States, Europe, Canada and several parts of Asia. There are about 5 000 to 15 000 wolves in Alaska.
Appearance: Wolves are the biggest wild dogs in the world. They have bristly fur, bushy tails and a large rounded head. Some call them a larger, shaggier version of the German Shepherd, except they have longer legs and larger paws to help them run in the snow easier.
They have small black noses that enable them to smell a deer from a mile away, and pointed ears that allow them to hear noises even farther away! Contrary to what some may have heard, a wolf can see just as well as a human. Their legs are packed with muscles; they can race up to 40 miles an hour! They are good travelers, one wolf could trot for nearly half a day!
Male wolves are bigger then females. The males are found at about two and a half to three feet tall, weighing around seventy five to one hundred pounds. Females are usually one and a half to two and a half feet tall, and weigh sixty to eighty pounds. Nobody has seen every single wolf that ever existed, but the largest one ever found weighed about one hundred and seventy five pounds. Wolves in Canada and Alaska are usually larger than wolves found in the southern United States.
Babies: Before wolf pups are born, the mother must find a den. The den should be a nice protected spot shielded from the wind and rain. It could be a den, a cave, a nook among thick shrubs, or even a hollow log. Some packs don’t bother to find a new den, they just reuse an old one. Some packs have reused the same den for hundreds of years. After the alpha female finds her den, she stands guard. She will attack any intruder but her mate.
Wolves have been known to have up to eleven pups, each pup weighing about as much as a loaf of bread. The mother wolf must stay close to her pups, because they are born blind and deaf. The other members of the pack bring her food. Wolves can be foster parents, sometimes they adopt orphan wolves.
The mother and her pups stay in the den for three weeks; then it’s time to go exploring outside. The alpha female can’t stay with her pups all the time; she needs some breaks. Sometimes other wolves will babysit the pups for a couple of hours while she’s gone, maybe for about 2 to 3 hours.
At the age of two months the pups leave the den for good, but there are still dangers. Hawks and eagles try to snatch the pups, and are sometimes successful. After the pups leave the den they are likely to live for thirteen years or more, but wolves have lived up to 17 years old.
Pups are playful and love to goof around, but their parents are pretty strict teachers. If pups misbehave the parents might growl, bite or even knock the pup over and hold them down for a few seconds, just to show them who’s boss.
A wolf’s biggest enemy is a human. If an alpha male or female senses the presence of people nearby, it will direct all the pack into the den, where they hide until the people pass.