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Wolves (Canis lupus) are mammals belonging to the Canidae family and are known worldwide for their habits and for being the supposed ancestors of dogs. Their appearance often inspires fear and they are animals that can be dangerous to humans. But the truth is that they escape from us, finding themselves today in very few places within their old range of distribution, such as North America, part of Europe, North Africa and Asia, where they live in wooded, mountainous, areas from prairies or swamps.
In addition to being highly intelligent animals, whose social structure is very complex and with very marked hierarchies, they have adaptations to the climate that allows them to live in areas with extreme temperatures of up to -50 ºC. But ¿how wolves hunt? ¿Do they do it in a herd or alone? Continue reading this ExertoAnimal article, where we will tell you about how wolves hunt and the characteristics of their hunting techniques.You may also be interested in: How do tigers hunt? Index
- The hierarchy of wolves and their relationship with hunting
- Do wolves hunt in groups?
- Do wolves hunt night or day?
The hierarchy of wolves and their relationship with hunting
The social structure of these animals is one of the most organized, since they have a well-established and marked hierarchy. Some studies indicate that in each herd there is a breeding pair in charge of leading the hunt and being the nucleus of the group, as we explained in this other article on The reproduction of the wolf. On the other hand, three or four other individuals take turns entering and leaving the group, while another individual is the one in charge of protecting the leading couple, taking care of their backs..
The leading breeding pair is also the one in charge of resolving and intervening in any dispute that may occur between the members of the herd, in addition, they have absolute freedom within the group, since they have control over resources and are the ones that keep the herd together, whose social trait is companionship, among others. On the other hand, there is a second reproductive pair that follows the alpha, the beta, and is the one that will replace the first in case of death and the one that controls the lower-ranking individuals within the herd..
In general, wolves are monogamous, although there are exceptions, as the alpha male (the leading and dominant male of the pack) may sometimes prefer to mate with another member of lower hierarchical rank. In the case of females, they are second in command to their mates, and the cubs do not participate in this hierarchy until they reach maturity..
The alpha has many privileges, and when feeding on prey, he does it first, and then make way for the others, who will be submissive to the alpha male. Submission equates to stooping and tucking their bodies, lowering their ears, licking the alpha on the muzzle, and tucking their tail between their legs. On the other hand, studies speak of the existence of a omega wolf, Who the last to be considered at lunchtime or during games.
The number of the herd will be subject to various factors, such as the environmental conditions of its habitat, the different personalities of its members and the availability of food. Size may vary from 2 to 20 wolves, Although it is said that the common is from 5 to 8. And a pack is formed when a wolf moves away from its original pack, where it was born, to find a companion and then claim a territory, being able to travel long distances in search of other wolves . In addition, each group must have a lot of respect for the territories of others, since otherwise they could be killed by the members of other packs.
Do wolves hunt in groups?
Yes, wolves hunt in groups of a few specimens, generally, between four to five individuals participate. Among all they corner the prey forming a polygon, leaving little chance of escape, not only by enclosing it on all sides, but because the wolves are agile and very fast. Always, leaders and adults are ahead, while the youngest from behind are observing all the movements.
The hunting party is governed mainly by two rules: one is that they must approach the prey little by little and slowly until they are at a considerable and safe distance. The second is that each one must move away from the rest and always in position and ready to attack. What's more, the attack will depend on the size of the prey, since if it is domestic cattle, they hunt on the lookout and a member of the group is in charge of distracting, if it is the case, shepherd dogs that take care of the flock. So when a wolf is seen by the shepherds, the rest are in charge of attacking the prey.
If it is other larger animals, such as elk, the wolves choose dams that are visibly disadvantaged, either because it is a baby, an old, sick or badly injured individual. First, they can harass them for hours until they cower and make them escape, at which point the wolves take the opportunity to pounce on one of them. These attacks can also be dangerous for wolves, since moose and other large prey can attack them with their antlers..
¿What are the advantages of hunting in a group?
Hunting in a group gives them great advantages compared to hunting alone, since together they attack the prey from different angles of the hunting range and its success is due to this strategy, since the trapped prey is retained and without escape.
In addition, hunting in a group allows them access almost any prey large, such as elk, caribou, deer, among others, unlike a wolf that hunts alone, since it will have to settle for hunting smaller prey, such as rabbits, beavers or foxes to avoid any injury in case dealing with larger animals. However, one of the disadvantages of hunting in a group is that then they must share the prey among all the members of the pack.
Now that you know how wolves hunt, you may be interested to know if ¿It is true that wolves attack people?
Do wolves hunt night or day?
Wolves have a very keen sense of smell and sight, allowing them to hunt both during the day and at night. In general, they do it in twilight hours thanks to their vision that allows them to see in low light conditions. This is due to the presence of a layer of tissue located behind the retina, called the tapetum lucidum..
During the day they rest and sleep in a protected place away from humans or possible predators, although during winter they may move at any time..