Wolf Behavior

Why do wolves howl?

There are four main reasons for a wolf to howl; to communicate with each other when far away (up to 50 square miles), to warn of danger to the pack, to call the pack for hunting, and to locate each other in foreign areas.

The sound of their howl is not much different from large domestic dogs, although wolves from different geographic regions do howl differently. Wolves from North America tend to have a louder and longer howl than their melodious European counterparts. The loud well known wolf howl is from adult wolves, while yearling wolves end their howls with a yelping sound, and wolf pups almost never howl.

When wolves howl together, the illusion of greater numbers is created though harmonizing. Wolves will avoid howling when they are alone, and will normally not respond in rainy weather. When hunting, their howls will be higher pitched and they will start to add in barks when closing in on their prey. To call their pack to the kill, the howl will be smooth long sounds.

Do wolves really live in packs?

Most wolves are highly sociable animals, living and hunting together in packs. Packs of wolves have a similar make-up; two wolves (the mated pair) and their adult offspring. The mated pair will reproduce each year. The average wolf pack has 5 - 12 animals from the same family, and can even include multiple families of similar numbers. Some packs reaching 42 wolves in number have even been reported.

Individuals will stay in the pack for anywhere from 10 to 50 months, and after that time some of the wolves will leave the pack and spread out (lone wolves) looking for food or their own mate. A new pack may form when a male finds an unrelated female wolf looking for territory, or vice versa.

Where do wolves live in the wild?

When the weather is warm and dry, wolves tend to rest right in the open. However, when the weather is cold, damp, or windy, they practice a behavior called denning. Most mammals prefer shelter in adverse conditions, and wolves are no different. In the summer months, wolves will build dens to protect their pups. Female wolves will find hanging rocks or other natural cover and dig out a den. Sometimes they will take over dens from smaller animals and widen them. These dens are usually very close to a water source and face south to maximize sunlight.