Gray Wolf. Canis Lupus


Photo Credit:        Yellowstone Gray Wolf


The wolf is the largest member of the canine family.Gray wolves will range in color from grey, black to all-white in color.

The most important behavioral condition for the survival of wolves in the wild is bonding.Bonding between animals is thought of as the attraction towards members of the same species, which can manifest itself in numerous behaviors.

The emotional state in bonding is developed in youth, which is done during a short period of socialization.Wolf pups that are no older than three weeks old are already drawn towards their parents, and to other members in their pack.If these wolf pups are prevented from playing and bonding, they will develop symptoms of stress. Stress factors will only be reduced when reunited with their pack.

Wolves that are in captivity also have the potential to bond with dogs , and even humans.Wolf pups are able to bond with humans most strongly when they have been taken from their mothers before their eyes have opened, and also when they are cared for exclusively by humans.

When out in the wild, pups meet adult members of their pack on the twentieth day of their lives, when their tendency to bond is strongest.Wolf pups leave their den when they are around 8 to 10 weeks old.After that their need to bond diminishes very quickly.Wolf pups bond not only with the adults in their pack, but also with the other wolf pups.They are strongly attached to their litter mates, and spend plenty of time playing with them.

At seven months they start accompanying their pack, and after that time they are less likely to form social bonds and friendships with unknown wolves, unless they have spent plenty of time with that wolf.The courtship period between wolves is very long, on occasion taking longer than a year.The time that passes after the formation of the wolf “couple”, and the onset of sexual relationships takes even longer. The bonding of wolf couples is very strong, and generally tends to last for a few years.

Pack members will bond most with the strongest male and female in the pack.This would be the alpha male and alpha female.Other members of the wolf pack are also named by the letters of the Greek alphabet.The other male members of the wolf pack will bond with similar ranked beta males.Those wolves ranked at the bottom will tend to bond less with each other, nonetheless they are very friendly with the pups, and will try to build relationships with other wolf strangers.

Bonding results with the alpha male nurturing his relationship with every single member of his wolf pack.The alpha individual, and many times the other members of the wolf pack will sometimes attack an outside wolf.Captive wolves that have been kenneled will tend to behave in a threatening way towards strange humans that they do not know.

Bonding is what allows for the communal movement and cooperation of the wolf pack during the hunt.

Behavioral Signs of Bonding

1.Various signs of body contact.

2.Playful and subordinated behavior of the lower ranked wolves.

3.Adult wolves are always willing to play.

4.If they are busy hunting or resting,the other pack members will shape their bonding through playful behavior.

5.Adult wolves will always play with those wolves that are close to them in rank.

6.Lower ranked wolves play more often.

7.Invitations for play is similar among dogs-the individual dog will lower his forelegs to the ground. Often , this invitation to play is initiated by an aggressive chase.

8.The wolf that has been invited to play will place his tail between his legs, extend his ears backwards, and will try to escape quickly, acting as if he were being attacked.Yet, if this wolf were being truly attacked, he would have run in a straight line, not in a curved arc.When this wolf returns to play, the pursued becomes the pursuer, and this chase game will continue for a while, with roles alternating between the two wolves.

Behavioral Elements Between Wolves

During the chase game between wolves, many behavioral elements appear that are characteristic of play. These elements of play all get mixed together when wolves play.The whole act of play between wolves is relaxed and the final act of the kill, is left out.

Bonding is crucial ,and is the basis for the cooperation of the pack. When the pack surrounds a prey, each single wolf will remain equidistant from wolves on either side.Once they begin the attack, it will be initiated by the alpha male, with the rest of the pack acting in unison and with intelligence.

Pups start sleeping alone at  4 weeks of age.Wolves are characterized by xenophobia-fear of strangers. At three months of age, when approached by a “new” wolf, the wolf pup will be anxious. At five months of age, this wolf will be afraid of the “new” wol

Waltz For The Wolves June 14, 2014- Wolf Sanctuary

Defenders of Gray Wolf

National Wildlife Federation

Yellowstone National Park Wolves


If Dogs Could Talk-Vilmos Csanyi


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