Wolf Behavior>>
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Vocal Communication: The howl is an important and well-known method wolves use to communicate with one another. Wolves howl before they go on a hunt, possibly to rally the pack together, and they often begin to howl after a successful hunt. Howling serves to assemble a pack together, as wolves often become separated from each other during a hunt. Wolves howl to mourn the death of a mate or pack member.



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Other forms of vocal communication include growls, barks and squeaks. Whimpering tends to serve as either a submissive or friendly greeting sound, since young wolf cubs and wolves attempting to appear submissive often whimper. Wolves growl when they are attempting to threaten another wolf or are behaving aggressively. Wolves rarely bark, may do so as alarm call or during play.>>
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Scent and Communication: The wolf has several specialized glands, near anus and on its back about three inches in the front of the base of its tail. Each wolf has his/her own “calling card” scent. They use the scent markings to mark territory, establish position of site or kill. Males mark more than females. Alpha male use raised-leg urination while subordinate males and females use the squat position. >>
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Social Order: Wolves typically live in family groups called packs. Most packs consist of two parents and their offspring, although some packs may also contain a few relatives, such as a sibling, of one of the breeding wolves. In the wild wolves are territorial and will not welcome a strange wolf. In exceptional cases, an unrelated wolf may be adopted into a pack. >>
Play is an important part of a wolf’s social behavior. Like your pet dog a wolf that wishes to play will bow down with its front paws on the ground and its rear in the air with the tail wagging. They run around, playfully let out a high-pitched dog-like bark and gently bite. Often they will growl and sound vicious. During play wolf cubs begin to establish their place in the pack. Play behavior is important for improving hunting skills and bonding to the pack members.>>
A dominance hierarchy exists within all wolf packs, and because this social order is important to wolves, much of the body language is related to affirming it. There are four different classes of wolves with a wolf pack: >>
1.The alpha pair, the breeding pair, consists of a male and a female wolf. There is a move in current wolf biology to use the term breeding pair rather than alpha. These two high ranking wolves will generally mate and produce offspring and are dominant over all other wolves in the pack. The pair mate for life and remain affectionate toward one another.
The alpha gets the choice cut.


2.The mature subordinate animals are subservient to the alpha pair. Often, there are two separate dominance orders with a pack-one for males and one for females, but Mech (1999) notes that this is not always the case in wild wolf packs. The high-ranking subordinate lupines are often referred to as beta wolves.
Submissive behavior



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3.The omega wolves are the lowest ranking wolf or wolves in the pack. They appear to be mistreated by the higher-ranking wolves but if they behave subserviently they are never harmed. Their role within the pack is important since the omegas are the ones that stay behind and baby-sit the cubs while the pack in at the hunt.

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1. The juveniles are young wolves that have not yet secured themselves a position with the pack’s hierarchy. The cubs will “play-fight” and this often results in the formation of a dominance hierarchy. However, this hierarchy often changes frequently. >>
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Only the two alpha wolves were allowed to come near me. The other pack members had to keep their distance.
Tail position and other non-vocal forms of communication establish the social hierarchy of the wolf within the pack.



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***Option. After reviewing these images go to a local dog park or kennel (at least four to five dogs) and observe their behaviors. Do you see any similarities between dog and wolf social behaviors? Write an essay or scene about your observations. Cameras are great for capturing that “wolf-like moment”.>>
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Other Wolf Factoids>>
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1. Wolves have 5 toes on the front feet and 4 toes on the back feet. Their paw prints only leave the 4 toe imprint.>>
2. Wolves feet are webbed and in that webbing are scent glands that mark >>
their steps so they can find the trail again.>>
3. Dominance is not always based on size but rather personality.>>
4. Wolves are pregnant about 60-63 days.>>
5. Wolf pups are born deaf and blind. Litter sizes range from 4-7 pups and are born in April through June. Pups emerge from their den at about one month of age. The survival rate for pups is only 50%.>>
6. When pack members return from a hunt they are nipped on the snout by the pups causing the hunters to regurgitate undigested meat for them.>>
7. Wolves usually have a low hunting success rate.>>
8. The average wolf is the size of a German Shepherd. >>
9. Lone wolves have no social territory and rarely scent-mark or howl.>>
10. Attempts to keep wolves as pets are not successful and in the U.S.A. is illegal and you can be fined up to$ 25,000.00 dollars. At least here in California.>>
11. Although wolves are feared throughout much of the world, documented >>
cases of wolf attacks on humans is extremely rare and most likely due to >>
rabies.


This is the last brief look at the wolf and its natural history. Give me a howl if you have any questions. Next Monday I will discuss wolf lore and how a respected totem turned into a feared monster.

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