The wolves in Guardian of Giria are grey wolves (Canis lupus).
- Adults are called wolves (distinguished using the word “male” or “female” as appropriate) and juveniles are called pups.
- Wolves live in family groups known as packs. Packs can have as few as 2 and as many as 30 wolves.
- Wolf packs have a very strict hierarchy or pecking order. Those at the top are called the alpha male and female. A pack usually consists of the alpha pair and their offspring from the current year or previous years. While it might look like there are lots of adults in the pack, it is likely that many of the animals are actually juveniles as the cubs grow very quickly – after just 4 months, they can weigh nearly 30 times more than they did at birth.
- The lowest ranking wolf is called the omega. The omega is typically picked on by the other wolves in the pack and acts as the group jester, helping to relieve tensions.
- Typically, only the alpha pair mate and have cups. As they reach sexual maturity, wolves can either challenge the current alphas and take over the pack, or they can leave and start their own pack. Multiple breeding pairs in one pack are only possible where there is a large number of prey animals available.
- Wolves have a varied diet, mostly eating large hoofed animals such as deer and boar, but they will also eat smaller mammals, nuts and berries.
- Wolves can eat 9 kg and travel up to 200 km in one day.
- When hunting, wolves often favour weaker animals, such as those in poor health, those with an injury, or juveniles. That said, it is possible for a single or lone wolf to kill large prey such as an adult elk (moose).
- After hunting, the alpha pair typically eats first, then older offspring, then yearlings. At times when there are pups, the pups are given precedence over older offspring.
- Pups are generally born in early summer and there are typically 5-6 pups per litter. However, many die when they are still pups.
- At 3 months old, pups will travel with hunting groups but not actually participate in the hunt. By 7-8 months old they will join the hunt.
- Wolf pups are kept in the den for about 4 weeks after they are born. During that time, only the mother is permitted inside. Pack members bring food and leave it at the entrance for the mother.
- Wolf howls can carry up 10 km (6 miles). They can howl alone or in groups, sitting or standing. The only constant is that the lift their nose to the sky to howl.
- There are many reasons for howling – to find one another and bring the pack together, to invigorate the pack before a hunt, to congratulate hunters after a hunt or for any sort of celebration (such as pups being born), to warn off other wolves, to find breeding mates or simply when they’re lonely. Wolves that have left the pack, especially those who have left alone, tend not to howl in case they attract unwanted attention from another pack. But evidence shows wolves like howling – it’s like the wolf equivalent of singing.
- Wolves do not sleep in dens. They don’t seem to be bothered by rain or snow.
- Wolves tend to be less active during a full moon as many mammals, including deer and boar, take cover from the bright light to avoid being killed by predators or human hunters.
- Wolves have a strong sense of smell – about 100,000 times that of humans. They can smell prey over a mile away. However, this is low compared with other animals. It is unlikely they would find animals hidden underground, although they can follow fresh tracks easily.
- Wolves have great hearing – their hearing is about 16 times stronger than humans.
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