As you come to know about some new facts about these cute animals you fall in love with them even more. One such fact is that some animals mate for life means that they make a couple, breed and live together for the whole life. This behavior of mating is expressed by some animals such as albatross, beavers, gibbons, etc. In this article, we’ll find out if wolves mate for life.
So, do wolves mate for life? No, wolves do not mate for life. Wolves mating for life is a long-held myth that can be destroyed just by observing the behavior for a pack of wolves. Generally, if the partner dies early during hunting or due to being attacked by another pack of wolves, the surviving partner wolf finds another suitable wolf to mate.
Well, this was just a short answer but the long answer is a bit more complicated than that. To better answer this question, we first need to examine the mating habits of wolves as well as their reproductive behaviors.
Wolves Mating Behavior
First, let’s examine the stages leading up to being able to reproduce. We must acknowledge that generally less than half of wolf pups survive to sexual maturity due to disease, malnutrition, or other predators. And provided that they survive to 2-3 years of age the wolves are now capable of mating.
Generally, only the alpha male and female are ever allowed to reproduce and they will usually only have 1 litter of pups each year sometime between January and March with a gestation period of up to 63 days. For this reason, it is not unusual for mature wolves to leave their original pack in search of a new one or to start their own.
Prior to mating, the two alphas of the wolf pack need to bond. This is represented by behaviors such as sleeping together, nuzzling and being in the general proximity of one another. Other common displays of affection include grooming, nose bumping, and quiet whining.
When the female alpha wolf is ready to mate the presence of sex hormones will be noticeable in the air through the actual release of the sex hormones will not happen until copulation occurs. Attempts by the alpha male wolf to mate prematurely however will result in snaps and growls from the alpha female.
Similar to dogs, the alpha male mounts the alpha female from behind with the alpha male’s genital swelling to the point of constriction within the alpha female’s genital. While sperm is released within about 5 minutes of mating it can take up to half an hour for the swelling to subside, leaving the two alphas tied together.
Even after mating, the two alpha wolves will usually remain affectionate and continue to mate in subsequent years giving credence to the ‘Wolves mate for life” myth. Not to say that wolves can’t mate for life, but a number of factors can prevent this from happening.
The most obvious example is if one of the alpha wolves dies prematurely. Illegal hunting, car accidents and disease are all possible. In this situation, the surviving alpha wolf will often bond with another wolf and may have multiple partners over their natural lifespan.
In addition, it is entirely plausible to have more than 1 litter of pups. In this case, the alpha male has mated with female wolf asides from the alpha female. This can happen if the female alpha is not aggressive enough to assert control over the subordinate female wolves. Subordinate males can also try and mate but if caught are usually chased out of the pack by the alpha male.
So while it is entirely possible to have an alpha pair mate for life, due to the circumstances often encountered in nature it is likely that an alpha wolf will have multiple partners in their lifetime.