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Wolf Behavior/ Wolf Facts

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Wolf Behavior/ Wolf Facts

Post by Snow on Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:21 am

Wolf Behavior:

Body Language:


Dominance - A dominant wolf stands stiff legged and tall. The ears are erect and forward, and the hackles bristle slightly. Often the tail is held vertical and curled toward the back. This display shows the wolf's rank to all others in the pack. A dominant lupine may stare penetratingly at a submissive one, pin it to the ground, "ride up" on its shoulders, or even stand on its hind legs.
Submission (active) - In active submission, the entire body is lowered, and the lips and ears are drawn back. Sometimes active submission is accompanied by a rapid thrusting out of the tongue and lowering of the hindquarters. The tail is placed down, or halfway or fully between the legs, and the muzzle often points up to the more dominant animal. The back may be partially arched as the submissive wolf humbles itself to its superior. (A more arched back and more tucked tail indicate a greater level of submission.)
Submission (passive) - Passive submission is more intense than active submission. The wolf rolls on its back and exposes its vulnerable throat and underside. The paws are drawn into the body. This is often accompanied by whimpering.
Anger - An angry lupine's ears are erect, and its fur bristles. The lips may curl up or pull back, and the incisors are displayed. The wolf may also snarl.
Fear - A frightened wolf tries to make its body look small and therefore less conspicuous. The ears flatten down against the head, and the tail may be tucked between the legs, as with a submissive wolf. There may also be whimpering or barks of fear, and the wolf may arch its back.
Defensive - A defensive wolf flattens its ears against its head.
Aggression - An aggressive wolf snarls and its fur bristles. The wolf may crouch, ready to attack if necessary.
Suspicion - Pulling back of the ears shows a lupine is suspicious. In addition, the wolf narrows its eyes. The tail of a wolf that senses danger points straight out, parallel to the ground.
Relaxedness - A relaxed wolf's tail points straight down, and the wolf may rest sphinxlike or on its side. The wolf's tail may also wag. The further down the tail droops, the more relaxed the wolf is. Tension - An aroused wolf's tail points straight out, and the wolf may crouch as if ready to spring.
Happiness - As dogs do, a lupine may wag its tail if it is in a joyful mood. The tongue may loll out of the mouth.
Hunting - A wolf that is hunting is tensed, and therefore the tail is horizontal and straight.
Playfulness - A playful lupine holds its tail high and wags it. The wolf may frolic and dance around, or bow by placing the front of its body down to the ground, while holding the rear high, sometimes wagged. This is reminiscent of the playful behavior executed in domestic dogs.


Behavior:

Howling:
Wolves seem to howl for many reasons. They often howl before they go on a hunt, possibly to rally the pack together, and they often begin to howl after a successful hunt. That suggests that howling serves to assemble a pack together, as wolves often become separated from each other during a hunt. They do not, however, howl while they are hunting, as that would alert potential prey items to the wolves' presence, giving them more time to escape. In addition, a wolf may howl alone if it is having troubles locating its pack, as pack members seem to recognize each other's voices, since individual wolves often have their own characteristic way of howling. Wolves will also howl in apparent grief after the death of their mates, and lonely wolf pups often howl in distress. And, as R. D. Lawrence has written in his book, Trail of the Wolf, "somewhat like humans, they [wolves] enjoy a singsong."

Wolf packs may also howl to communicate with other packs, as two different wolf packs will sometimes answer each other's howls. Wolves will also often answer the calls of humans mimicking wolf howls. L. D. Mech (1970) notes that wolves often remain silent for 20-30 minutes after a howling session. He suggests that such a silent period would allow each pack to listen for other wolf packs. If different packs repeated their howling right away, it would be difficult for any one pack to determine how many other packs were in the area.

Wolves howl less frequently during May and June than they do during the rest of the year, likely because that is the time that packs are most likely to have young pups present. It is possible that wolf packs who have young pups present often keep silent so they do not attract attention to their whereabouts, since pups are vulnerable to predators like bears and cougars.

Vocal Behavior:
n addition to howls, wolves can also produce whimpers, growls, barks and squeaks (Mech, 1970). Whimpering tends to serve as either a submissive or friendly greeting sound, since young wolf pups 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, but may do so as an alarm call or during play. Captive wolves who have been exposed to domestic dogs may bark more often than wild wolves or captive wolves who have not been exposed to domestic dogs.

Play:
Wolves also use different gestures to ask each other to play. When a wolf wants to play, it will approach another wolf and it will bow down with its front feet on the ground and its rear in the air with the tail wagging. It may also wipe its paw against its face. If the other wolf wants to play, it will approach the initiator, who may then stay in the crouched position or who may then bound away. The two will play fight or chase each other until they are tired. While wolves play, they may growl at each other playfully, let out loud, high-pitched dog-like barks, or gently bite and nip each other. Wolf pups are very playful, and adult wolves occasionally will play. During such relaxed situations, exceptions to the normal pack hierarchy often occur. For instance, during play, a dominant wolf may behave as though it were subservient to a lower-ranking wolf, and a subservient wolf may appear to be dominating a higher-ranking wolf.

Hunting:
Wolves have an excellent sense of smell and often locate prey using their noses, although chance encounters often lead wolves to their next meal. Wolves can follow the fresh tracks of animals on the ground, but more often, wind borne odours lead them to their next meal. Wolves can often detect the scent of a prey animal from up to one and a half miles away, if the wind is blowing from the direction of the prey animals towards the wolves. Wolves may sometimes be able to smell the presence of prey animals over even longer distances.
Wolves are always alert for signs that prey animals are around. Once they sense that one is near, they approach it quickly, quietly and very cautiously, since they cannot reveal their presence to their prey. If the prey animals pick up the scent of the wolves before the wolves have a chance to attack, then they will run or try to defend themselves. Wolves are quite swift, and can run at speeds of up to 32 kilometers per hour (20 miles). Chases are typically short, as wolves will not attempt to pursue a prey animal if there's little chance that they will capture it. Attempting to chase and kill an animal that would be very difficult to capture would waste the wolves' energy.Wolves can run at a speed of 5 miles per hour for several hours, and have become well adapted for running long distances.

Despite the fact that wolves are skillful hunters, they often go days or even weeks without food. It has been estimated by wolf biologists that only about 10% (sometimes this figure is as low as 4%) of a wolf pack's attempts to catch prey are successful. This is because prey animals have many ways to escape from or defend themselves from wolves. Musk oxen (Ovibos moschatus) try to defend themselves from wolves by bunching into a circle with their hindquarters together and their horns pointing towards the wolves. The calves stay in the inside of the circle so the adults can protect them. A kick from the hooves or a lunge from the horns of a musk ox can be fatal to a wolf. Moose often defend themselves by fighting with the wolves, and they often inflict fatal wounds on wolves by kicking with their sharp hooves or lunging with their antlers. Moose that try to fight off an attacking pack of wolves are often successful. Moose may also try to run from wolves, as do deer, which are very swift, or they may retreat to a deep body of water or a fast flowing river. Moose that attempt to flee from wolves are often killed or injured, however, as wolves are usually capable of outrunning a moose. Once wolves catch up to a moose, they start to attack it from the sides and hindquarters. Sometimes, one wolf will attempt to bite onto the muzzle of a moose while the rest of the pack attacks the animal's hindquarters and the sides of its body. Deer, which lack the strength and ferocity of the moose, almost always run from wolves, and they are often capable of outrunning a pack of wolves.
Wolves use a variety of strategies to capture their prey. Arctic wolves may try to provoke a stampede of musk oxen by staring at them, giving them false charges or by nipping at them. A stampede will expose the weak, vulnerable calves which will be attacked by the entire pack. Sometimes, one or two wolves will chase their prey right into another group of wolves. Wolves will also try to run their prey into exhaustion, or they may surround a herd and drive it into the open to expose the weakest animal.
If the wolves do get the chance to attack an animal, they will surround it and bite its neck, rear, head and sides to bring it down. Wolves rarely (if ever) hamstring a prey animal. The cause of death of the prey animal is usually massive blood loss, shock or both, although wolves may snap the neck of a smaller animal. The wolves will immediately start to devour the animal. The rump or hindquarters of the prey animal, as well as the internal organs, are usually the first parts of the prey animal eaten, and the muscle and flesh are usually the last parts eaten. Adult wolves are capable of eating about 14 kilograms (20 pounds) of meat at once, because wolves often go for long periods of time without eating, so once they do get food, they eat as much as they possibly can.

Wolves & other Carnivores:
Bears: Wolves and bears can coexist peacefully and often avoid each other. However, wolf-bear interactions can be quite violent. Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) will sometimes dig up, kill, and eat wolf pups. As a result, wolf packs will attempt to drive away grizzly bears that get close to the dens where wolf pups are living. Wolves may even attack, and have been known to kill, a grizzly bear that gets too close to the den. Wolves and grizzly bears have been seen fighting over animal carcasses from helicopters in Alaska. Bears will scavenge off of kills made by wolves, and they may try to drive a wolf or a few wolves off of a kill. Wolves can be quite aggressive towards black bears. There are records of wolves preying on black bears (Ursus americanus), and wolves have been known to kill and eat hibernating bears. Wolves will also attack black bear cubs when the mother bear cannot get to them and hurry them up a tree fast enough. Black bears will also occasionally kill wolf cubs.

Cougars: Wolves will sometimes drive a cougar (Felis concolor) away from a kill it has made so they can eat it themselves. A solitary cougar is often at a disadvantage when it is involved in a fight with a wolf pack, but a cougar may injure and/or kill wolves that try to take over a kill it has made if there are only a few wolves present. It is rare for a wolf to kill a mature cougar, but it has happened and wolves occasionally kill cougar cubs. Overall, wolf-cougar interactions are rarely observed because of the rarity of the two species, but the two generally share an animosity towards each other, since they both prey on large game.

Lynx: Few interactions between lynx and wolves have been documented in North America. Erkki Pulliainen, a researcher at the Univeristy of Helsinki, found that wolves and lynx in Finland seem to be enemies and that they do not share territories. In Hungary and Finland, lynx numbers tend to increase in an area when wolf numbers in that area decrease.

Wolverines and other Weasels: Interactions between wolves and weasels are typically of an aggressive nature. Wolverines (Gulo gulo, which are not as vicious as their reputation suggests they are) are often driven away from a kill they have been feeding on by wolves. Occasionally, the wolverine is killed. Martens, mink and ermines are often killed by wolves, and their carcasses are usually left uneaten. Despite this danger, weasels often scavenge off of abandoned wolf kills.

Coyotes: Wolves will often chase away (and possibly kill ) coyotes (Canis latrans) that venture onto their territory. When wolves were reestablished in Yellowstone National Park, coyote numbers in the park decreased and coyotes disappeared on Isle Royale about eight years after wolves reached the island. Some studies, such as those done by coyote biologist Wendy Arjo, suggest that coyotes often avoid wolves and choose home ranges that lie between the ranges of wolf packs. Coyotes are also active between the hours of 7:00 am and 11:00 am, while wolves are generally active at night. However, some coyotes will scanvenge off of wolf kills and some will even follow a wolf pack from a distance so they can scavenge off of the wolf kills when the wolves are some distance from it. The two species can interbreed, though they rarely do so. However, there is some evidence that the two species have interbred with each other in the eastern United States. Interbreeding between the two species is most likely to occur when wolf numbers are so low that a lone wolf would have a great deal of trouble finding a mate of the same species. Coyotes have also been breeding with the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus).

Foxes: Foxes, like coyotes, weasels, and bears, will scavenge off of wolf kills. Many other species also rely somewhat on food gained from wolf kills. These include eagles, gulls, grey jays, blue jays, stellar's jays, red squirrels, deer mice, black-capped chickadees, boreal chickadees, and bobcats. Wolves will sometimes raid food caches that a fox has prepared, and wolves will also take over old fox dens. Wolves often ignore foxes, since foxes do not compete with wolves for food as foxes hunt much smaller animals than wolves do. However, wolves will chase away, and possibly catch, injure and kill, a fox that was caught feeding on its kill. Most foxes are fast and alert enough to get away from the wolves first. Although it is rare, wolves have been known to prey on red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Arctic wolves will also prey on arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) if food is scarce.

Reproduction:
Female wolves are only capable of mating and producing young once a year during their heat (oestrus) period, which lasts for only a few weeks. The breeding season for wolves is usually from February to March. However, some wolves mate as early as January, and in Northern Canada or Alaska, wolves may mate as late as April. Mating season occurs after winter so the wolf pups will have time to grow and develop before the next winter comes. Female wolves usually become sexually active at age two, although a female wolf may breed as early as age one. However, many female wolves don't mate until they are four or five years old. A few weeks before the pups are born, the female will select a den. Most often, the den is a burrow dug into a soft area of a hillside. The den generally consists of a tunnel with an opening just large enough for an adult wolf to enter that leads to an enlarged chamber where the pups will be born. A rock cave, a large, hollow log, an old beaver lodge or an abandoned fox den may also serve as a den. Female wolves have also given birth in a depression right on the ground. Wolves often reuse dens, but will change dens if their current one becomes severely infested by parasites or is disturbed by other animals. The gestation period for a wolf is 63 days, as it is for a domestic dog. The female wolf will usually give birth (alone) to a litter of 5 or 6 pups, although some litters are as small as two or as large as 11. The female will not allow the male into the den while she is giving birth. The female must immediately bite off each pup's umbilical cord and she must break and remove the amniotic sack that surrounded each pup. She will then guide them to her nipples and they will instinctively start to suck. Each pup is born blind and deaf and unable maintain their own body temperatures. The average weight of a new-born wolf pup is 0.5 kilograms (one pound). The mother wolf will stay with her pups almost all of the time at this stage but will leave the den to eat the food the other pack members will leave outside for her. A wolf den is usually near a river or lake so the mother wolf does not have to go far to get water.

At the end of two weeks the pups will have opened their eyes and will start to develop their milk teeth. They will also be able to walk on all four of their legs and will weigh about 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds). When the pups are three weeks old they will be able to see and hear and the mother will start to regurgitate solid food for them to eat. Wolf pups are born with blue eyes, which usually change to a yellow-gold or orange colour by the time the pups are 8-16 weeks old. When the pups are about one month old they will leave the den. When they leave the den they will be greeted by the other members of their pack very enthusiastically.

When they are able to leave the den, the pups become the responsibility of the whole pack. Each wolf in the pack will protect the pups, and will watch out for possible predators (such as eagles or bears) that may attack the pups. Members of the pack besides the mother will start to regurgitate food for the pups. The pups spend much of their time playing by chasing and wrestling with each other. They will constantly try the patience of the older wolves by nipping at their ears and tails and by pouncing on them. Adult wolves are very patient with the pups and will only reprimand them by bearing their teeth if the play becomes too rough. The pups are treated with a great deal of affection by all members of the pack, and since each pack will typically have only one litter (there are rare exceptions to this), they are viewed as "communal babies". While the pups are out of the den, but are still too young to hunt, they will stay at a "rendezvous" site with a pupsitter (one of the subordinate wolves). Wolf pups are moved to a rendezvous site when they are about 5 to 8 weeks old. The rendezvous site will have an area of about 1000 square meters (1200 square yards) and it serves as a meeting place for the adult wolves and as a home for the pups until they can go on hunts. The pups will gradually learn about their pack's hierarchy and their own place within it.

As the pups mature, they will be introduced to potential prey, different scents and trails, and hunting strategies. Wolf pups start to accompany adults on hunting trips when they are 12 weeks old. The pups will start to explore their surroundings on their own, and at age 7-8 months, they will start to actively hunt with the pack. Some pups will eventually leave their pack and will become lone wolves (dispersers). Lone wolves are often at great risk of being attacked or killed by other wolves whose territory they have intruded on. If a lone wolf finds a mate and establishes a territory, it will be the founder of a new pack. Some wolves will stay with their pack (biders) and will wait for an opportunity to move up in its hierarchy when the alpha wolf dies or becomes sick and old. About half of the wolf pups born each year will die before their first year. Disease, hunting accidents, attacks by bears, fights or inexperience are often to blame.













Wolf Facts:

Average life span:
6 to 8 years

Size:
Head and body, 36 to 63 in (91 to 160 cm); Tail, 13 to 20 in (33 to 51 cm)

Weight:
40 to 175 lbs (18 to 79 kg)

Speed:
Wolves trot at 5 miles per hour, but they can run in short bursts at up to 35 miles per hour. They can travel as much as 30 miles per day hunting for food.

Jaw pressure:
The wolf's jaw can exert 1500 pounds of pressure per square inch, twice the jaw pressure of a German Shepherd. Wolves can crush large bones in just a few bites.

Number of pups in a litter:
The average litter is five pups. It can vary depending on the abundance of prey, wolf population density, and the size of available territory.

Diseases attracted:
Rabies: Rabies is a disease that is cause by the rabies virus, which is a small, bullet-shaped RNA virus. Rabies is usually transmitted from one mammal to another when an infected animal bites an uninfected one, as the rabies virus is capable of dividing rapidly within the salivary glands of an infected animal. The rabies virus cannot penetrate skin by itself and the deposition of infected saliva on an animal's skin does not always mean that the animal will contract the disease. Once the virus enters an animal's body, it is usually deposited within muscle tissues, where it will rapidly multiply. Rabies viruses normally replicate in muscle or subepithelial cells. After the virus has replicated extensively within the muscle tissue, it will begin to infect the neurons in the animal's muscles or skin. Rabies viruses can bind to the acetylcholine receptor of neurons. The virus will then travel through the sensory or motor nerves to the animal's central nervous system, and will most likely then infect the animal's spinal column. The virus will then end up in the animal's brain, where it will leave inclusion bodies, called Negri bodies, in the neurons.
Initial symptoms of the disease include anxiety, irritability, depression and sensitivity to light and sound. As the disease progresses, hydrophobia (fear of water) will develop, as the animal will experience difficulties swallowing. Paralysis then occurs, which will be followed by coma, and then death.
In urban settings, dogs were once the main rabies vector. Now, thanks to pet vaccination programs, rabies has become rare in domestic animals in developed countries. Wild animals, especially raccoons, foxes, skunks, jackals, mongooses, squirrels, coyotes, badgers and bats are now the main transmitters of rabies. In North America, raccoons are the largest reservoir for the disease, and 98% of all cases of rabies are found in raccoons, skunks, bats or foxes. Rabies is extremely rare in North American wolves today. In the last few decades, only a handful of wolves have died from rabies, and most have been in Alaska, where wolves are common.

Canine Distemper: Canine distemper is a contagious viral disease that affects the skin, eye membranes, intestinal tract and sometimes the brain of the animals it attacks. Initial symptoms include fever, loss of appetite and a discharge from the animal's eyes or nose. Diarrhea then follows, which will usually cause dehydration. Seizures may follow, and if the disease progresses that far, the animal will most likely die. It usually occurs in young puppies, and is more likely to kill puppies than adults.
Distemper has been reported in captive wolves since 1904, although it is rather rare in wild wolves. A few outbreaks have occurred however. Carbyn (1982) found that distemper killed three 5-8 month old wolf pups in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, and concluded that distemper was the second largest known mortality factor among the wolves in the park. In 1978 and 1980, two wolves were found to have died from distemper in Alaska.
Other than the two cases described above, distemper is not a major source of mortality in wild wolves. Many wild wolves do carry the disease (for instance, 48% of 71 wolves tested seropositive for distemper in northern Minnesota from 1977-1984) although distemper is rarely fatal to wolves, particularly the adults. It is possible that pups die from the disease occasionally, as the disease usually strikes puppies that are from 3 - 9 weeks old. However, pup recruitment is usually high in North America so distemper most likely does not kill very many wild wolf pups

Canine Parvovirus: Canine parvovirus (CPV-2) is a rather new infectious disease that first appeared in 1976 in Europe and was recognized as a disease in dogs in 1978. It is a viral disease that attacks the animal's intestines and causes diarrhea, vomiting, and, consequently, dehydration. Its origins are unknown, but it may have arose from a mutation of feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) or the mink enteritis virus, as it is quite similar to those two viruses.
CPV-2 was common in dogs by 1980 and first appeared in wild wolves in 1978-1979. From 1979 on, the disease began to increase its prevalence in wolves. In the early 1980's, it was found that 26% of Minnesota's wolves had been exposed to CPV-2, and in 1980, 9 out of 18 Alaskan wolves tested seropositive for the disease. CPV-2 may have been responsible for a decline in wolf numbers in Isle Royale National Park from 1980-1982. The decline occurred at the same time that a CPV-2 outbreak occurred among domestic dogs in the area. During the late 1980s, several wolves on the island had positive titers to CPV-2, although it is unknown as to whether or not the disease was responsible for the decline in wolf numbers.
CPV-2 strikes captive wolf packs far more often than it does wild wolves. In 1983, CPV-2 killed 11 out of 12 pups and yearlings in a captive wolf pack in Minnesota. CPV-2 has also killed wild red wolves (Canis rufus) - four red wolf pups died recently in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of parvovirus.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis: This disease was first discovered in free-ranging wolves in 1974, and tests done on wolves in northern Canada and Alaska suggest that the disease can be quite common among wolves. In 1982, it was found that 100% of the wolves in the Tanana flats and Nelchina basins of Alaska had been exposed to the virus and in 1987, a study done in northwest Alaska found that only 40% of the wolves in the area had been exposed to the virus. There is no relation between the occurrence of the disease in domestic dogs and in any nearby wild wolves. It is not known if ICH is a significant cause of mortality in wild wolves.

Oral Papillomatosis: This virus infects the mouth and lips of canines and can cause swelling and infection of the lips. It can also cause small tumours to form in the animals mouth and on its lips. Symptoms can be quite mild or very severe. This disease does not kill wild wolves directly, although it has been known to kill coyotes indirectly. In coyotes, it can alter the feeding behavior of the animal and may lead to multiple secondary infections. Some coyotes who contract the disease recover from it and become immune to it.

Diet:
Wolves are carnivores, meaning they live almost exclusively off of meat. When hunting in a pack, wolves often try to capture and kill deer, moose, caribou, bison, wild sheep, wild goats or musk oxen, and these large ungulates (hoofed animals) make up most of a wolf's diet. Although wolves hunting in packs tend to capture such large prey items, lone wolves will on occasion bring down a large hoofed animal or one of its calves. During spring, wolves often prey upon juvenile ungulates. Wolves will also eat smaller animals like beavers, rabbits, hares, voles, fish, muskrats, lemmings, raccoons, shrews, marmots, woodchucks, shellfish, ground squirrels, mice and birds. In many parts of North America, beavers make up a large part of wolves' diets. Wolves hunting alone often catch such animals. Wolves will also eat animal carcasses they have found but did not kill themselves. Wolves will also eat insects, earthworms, or garbage and, when especially hungry, vegetable matter, such as berries or nuts, though none of these items make up a significant part of a wolf's diet. They will also eat grass as a purgative. Wolves will sometimes turn to eating domestic livestock as well.


*Information found Here, pictures found on google

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