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November 21, 2008 | | Comments 0

Wolf Pups

Wolf Pups

Wolf Pups

Discovering Wolf Families: Raising Wolf Pups

Not all young animals are as fortunate as wolf pups. From the very moment of birth, helpless pups are given proper care and attention not just by their mothers but by other members of the pack as well. Indeed, wolf packs take care of the young so well that they resemble human families in many ways.

Preparing for Birth

A pregnant wolf carries her pups for approximately two months and two to three days. When the time has almost come to give birth to wolf pups, a prospective mother must leave the pack to look for an ideal den to give birth in. The right choice of a birthing den is crucial. It must be accessible to water and food sources. At the same time though, the den must be so well positioned, that other animal predators will be unable to find out about it. Otherwise, the young pups may become food for the predators.

Wolves may dig holes in the ground to serve as dens. They may also use caves and crevices. Sometimes, if no other suitable location is found, a pregnant wolf may have to settle for an old den.

Giving Birth

Female wolves often give birth to around a litter of four wolf pups at one time in spring. Once they are born, the mother removes the placenta and the umbilical cords. She cleans the pups by licking and prods them to have their first drink of milk. At this point, the pups are most vulnerable because they are totally deaf and blind. While the mother cares for her helpless pups, the male mate is responsible for bringing food to the female.

By ten days to two weeks, the wolf pups are already able to see. This however is still a vulnerable stage for them. Their mothers continue to watch over them. In later stages, an older member of the pack may be asked to look after them as the mother goes out to hunt.

Growing Up

By a month or so, the wolf pups are able to venture out of their dens. They also begin to eat meat but they are not yet hunting participants. Older wolves in the pack including older siblings usually hunt, eat and regurgitate the meat they have eaten for the pups left behind in dens. By eight weeks, wolf pups begin growing fur and by eight months, they are ready to participate in hunting with other members of the pack.

Threats

Despite living seemingly charmed lives, wolf pups are not safe from harm. As much as sixty percent of pups born in spring die because of harsh environmental conditions or disease. When pups do perish, other wolves in the pack feel the loss sincerely.

Aside from natural causes of death, pups may also perish because of human actions. To preserve cattle that are often hunted by wolves, humans kill adult members of packs. Since there may be no wolves in a pack left to care for the wolf pups, the pups may also be killed. This method of cattle population preservation has been surrounded by a lot of controversy and opposition.

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