As an appreciator of wolves, I’ve found them to be misunderstood and mysterious animals. It’s inspired me to come up with a blogging series about the annual cycle of wolves. For every season I’ll be focusing on how a wolf lives and how they respond to the changing environment. Winter is a time for keeping warm, whether through finding shelter or curling up. Wolf activity during winter is less vigorous than other seasons.
As hunting is difficult during winter, wolves feed heavily in Autumn. To conserve energy, the pack will follow the same trail as prey, staying up wind and out of sight. When in striking distance of prey, wolves may wag their tails in excitement. It’s not uncommon for pups to run after prey in their excitement and spoil the hunt.
Depending on the depth of snow, wolves choose the easiest path to follow. The alpha forms a single file line, with the rest of the pack behind it. Old game trails and frozen lakes are popular paths because they offer the least amount of resistance. When prey has been located, the pack goes after the young or sick to get the easiest meal.
A wolf’s coat is essential for keeping it warm in the cold. The coat is so thick that barely any body heat escapes and snow won’t melt on fur. During the night, wolves curl up and cover their noses with their tail. This holds warm air exhaled over the feet and nose, meaning air is filtered through the tail when a wolf inhales, keeping it cosy at all times.
Late December is a time for mating, as female wolves go into heat. The alpha couple begin a courtship ritual. This starts with them sleeping close together and making quiet, whining noises. Mutual grooming occurs until the pair are ready to mate. Couples have long-lasting affection for each other, though males may bond with other females in different years. The gestation period is 59-63 days, meaning a new litter will be born in spring.
When spring arrives, be sure to check back for the next entry in the annual cycle of wolves series.