Wolves are the largest wild members of the dog family. They live in packs and have to co-operate in order to survive. The Arctic Wolf is a highly resilient animal which inhabits some of the most hostile terrain on earth.

Wolf Packs

Wolves are the largest wild members of the dog family. They live in packs and have to co-operate in order to survive. For example, a fully-grown musk ox or caribou would be far too large for any single wolf to tackle. A herd of musk oxen will automatically form a defensive circle with their calves in the middle if they sense the approach of wolves. Musk oxen have large horns and because of their size have a great weight advantage over the wolves. Therefore the wolves rely on teamwork. They prowl round the herd, hoping to panic them. Very often the wolves will be unsuccessful. Only around one in ten of these attacks will result in a kill. If the musk oxen do panic, the wolves immediately try to isolate a young or weak animal. If one wolf latches on to a victim, the others will rush to its aid until their combined weight brings it down. Wolves can go without food for several days, but when they do succeed, can eat up to 45kg of meat at one sitting.

Packs are made up of a breeding pair, their cubs and their unmated offspring. The breeding male, known as the alpha male is dominant over the pack with his mate (the alpha female) as a near equal. They are treated with respect by other members of the pack. Lesser wolves will always hold their tails at a lesser angle than the dominant male. Dominant animals will also make their inferiors cringe or lie on their backs to show respect. Juvenile wolves are at the bottom end of the pecking order, but as they get older, their status increases, whilst weakness caused by old age demotes previously dominant animals.

Read More: Wolf and Humans