The mating season coincides with the winter months. Unlike dogs, wolves reproduce only once a year. Only the dominant male and female mate within the pack; this mechanism, together with territoriality, contributes to the regulation of the wolf population, which must be adapted to the feeding and spatial resources of a territory. The litter, born in the spring, is composed of 2 to 6 puppies and the whole pack collaborates in its breeding. The young wolves born in previous years help parents in this task, reinforcing family ties and gaining needed experience when they will become parents themselves.
In the first weeks of life puppies are very dependent on the mother who nurses them and keeps them in a real den, moving them if necessary by carrying them by the scruff. When they are more independent the puppies reside in a wider area, outdoors, but with dense vegetation and hiding places, called “rendez-vous“, the heart of the pack’s territory, where young wolves await the return of the adults from the hunt.
After breastfeeding, the puppies are weaned with the food that adults regurgitate at their request, when the little ones persistently lick their snout, a typical wolf behaviour at this stage. In the period of socialization puppies are more curious and autonomous and the interaction between them and with adults increases, mimicking for fun the struggles and pursuits that will mark out their future life.
Birth of protected areas
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