A look at how wolves live in a pack in the wild and their behaviours towards each other to prove their place in their pack.
In the wild where wolves live in packs they typically consist of two parents and their offspring although sometimes a pack may contain a relative, such as a sibling, of the breeding pair. In rare cases an unrelated wolf may be allowed into the pack. Pack hierarchy is very important and consists of four different classes. These are:
· Often referred to as the breeding pair
· Consists of a male and female
· Mate and produce offspring
· Are two top ranking wolves in the pack
· Dominant over all other wolves in the pack
· Often, but not always, direct the activities of the pack
Mature Subordinate Animals
· Subservient to the alpha pair
· Highest ranking among mature, subordinate animals are often referred to as the Beta wolves
· Many wolf packs contain one or a few
· Appear to be mistreated by other pack members
· Avoid other members of the pack
· Are the lowest members in the pack hierarchy
· May be ambushed by other pack members should they try to approach the pack
· Young wolves which have not yet secured a position in the packs hierarchy
· Often play fight to form a hierarchy among the juveniles but this often changes
Wolves are not necessarily born alphas or not and it has also been seen that the alphas are not always the strongest, largest or fastest members of the pack. Quite often in the wild subservient wolves will leave the pack where they were born in at about two years old to go and find a mate to breed with. If it finds a mate it will become alpha over its offspring. The alpha may lead the pack to do certain things such as hunt, decide where to sleep or lead the defence against other animals such as bears but any motivated wolf can do this. It is sometimes seen that the alpha is leading the pack when actually what they do depends on the pack itself.
To show where a wolf stands in the hierarchy of the pack it shows different displays or body language towards the other pack members. The tail and ears are often used, as they are easy to read what messages the wolf is trying to give. When social interactions occur between wolves the alpha will hold its tail up very high while a subservient wolf will keep their tails hanging down. Very low ranking wolves tuck their tails right up underneath themselves or keep them curved alongside their legs but often all subservient wolves do this to show that they understand that the alpha is in the position of authority. The ears on an alpha wolf will always be up and erect while the lower ranking wolves keep them flattened especially when they approach an alpha wolf. Urinating is also different as both the alpha male and female will urinate with raise leg positions while any wolves below them will squat down low to the ground to urinate.