WolfWood Refuge Donate Now 2022
 Additional 2023 Tour Dates Updated 2/6/2023 |    2023 Calendars are here, Visit our SHOP 11/18/2022
  Walking with Wolves: Video      |   Wolf Facts |    Join us on Facebook
Mission Wolves Volunteer Visit Events Newsletter Media Videos Search Contact Shop Links

Fun Facts About Wolves

Native Connections: March 5th, 2023

Before Europeans claimed the North American continent as their own and wiped out most of the bison, deer, elk, and predators (along with many tribes), Native Americans had a long and positive history with wolves.

Robert H. Busch, in his book 'The Wolf Almanac' (which I highly recommend to wolf lovers), states that there are many early records of Native tribes that revered the wolf for its devotion to family, hunting skills, high intelligence, and survival skills.

- The Sioux called the wolf 'shunk manitu tanka'--the "animal that looks like a dog but is a powerful spirit."
- The Cherokee would NOT kill a wolf. They were sure that the dead wolf's brothers would exact revenge.
- The Nootka performed rituals to strengthen their bond with wolves.
- Cheyenne medicine men used to rub wolf fur on arrows to create luck in hunting.
- The Pawnee and the Cheyenne identified very strongly with the wolf. The Pawnee had such a close connection that the Plains hand signal for the wolf is the same as for Pawnee. A very cool belief of the tribe was that they saw the appearance and disappearance of the Wolf Star (Sirius) as signifying the wolf's coming and going from the spirit world, running down the bright-white trail of the Milky Way, which they named the Wolf Road. Coincidently, Canada's Blackfoot tribe also called the Milky Way the Wolf Trail.
- The Bella Coola tribe refused to eat bear meat but they revered the wolf so much that they would remove the hide of the bear (to use) while singing a song to invite the wolves to come eat the meat of the bear.

I leave you with this Cree origin story, The Earth-Maker Wolf:

When all the land was covered with water, the trickster Wisagatcak pulled up some trees and made a raft. On it, he collected many kinds of animals swimming in the waters. The Raven left the raft, flying for a whole day, and saw no land, so Wisagatcak called Wolf to help. Wolf ran around and around the raft with a ball of moss in his mouth. The moss grew, and earth formed on it. It spread on the raft and kept on growing until it made the whole world. This is how the Earth was created.

Photo below is of baby Jinn, a wolfdog at Wolfwood Refuge that has stolen my heart!


Hand-me-downs: Ancestral Behaviors: Fedruary 26th, 2023

So many things our companion dogs do are hold-overs from wolf behavior. If you have been on a tour at Wolfwood, you will have heard about the connection between wolf puppies licking adult wolves around the muzzle to get them to regurgitate and our dogs greeting us with kisses (licking) our faces as a greeting when we walk in the door. Paula likes to say this is the equivalent of your dog asking you to "throw-up for them!"

I once gave my dog Jake a shrimp to see if he liked it. He proceeded to "roll" on the shrimp, full-on rubbing both shoulders onto it. Wolves do this to pick up the scent it might be to take information back to the pack about food or it could be a way to disguise their own scent....like a perfume.

The play bow...dropping the front quarters into a crouch position, butt in the air, wagging tail, grinning face...yup, wolves perfected this!

The prosocial behaviors of dogs are thought to come from wolves. This is according to a study by Rachel Dale working with the Wolf Science Center in Vienna, Austria:
"This study shows that domestication did not necessarily make dogs more prosocial," said Dale. "Rather, it seems that tolerance and generosity towards group members help to produce high levels of cooperation, as seen in wolves."

Most dogs willingly submit to their humans since they see us as alphas. We provide food and shelter them from harm such as the wolf family dynamics do.

From Rick McIntyre:
"As I watched the Druids that January, I learned how fussy wolves are in making beds in the snow, especially 42. One cold morning, I watched her spend two minutes fastidiously pawing out a depression in the deep snow, then tramping down the bed by making several tight circles before finally lying down and curling up. The crater kept her out of the wind and minimized heat loss. As she made those circles in the snow, I thought of how dogs, even poodles inside warm luxury Manhattan apartments, go through similar motions when they get ready to bed down, a remnant of their wild wolf ancestors' adaptation to wintry conditions."
Photo is of Akula and Samoa, at Wolfwood, displaying their own play bows

What's for dinner? February 19th, 2023

While ungulates (deer, moose, elk, and caribou) make up most of the wolf diet, they are able to hunt--and can survive on--small rodents, insects, nuts and berries, shellfish, and even earthworms. Much like our dogs, wolves will also eat grass to clear digestive issues.

Wolves are not always making a kill to eat. They are opportunistic scavengers, also. In a study of thirty moose carcasses in Algonquin Park, only four of the thirty were killed by wolves. The others had died of natural causes. Dave Mech, a top world-expert on wolves, once stated to Rick McIntyre while Rick was working in Denali, that he believed if an autopsy was done on every adult prey animal that wolves killed, each one would be found to have health issues.

Some of us have dogs who display the habit of caching their food, just as their wolf cousins do. Digging a hole with their front feet and using their noses to bury "a little something for later." Wolves will stash food in this manner for up to half a mile away from the den site for easy access while feeding pups.

Wolves do not tend to get sick from spoiled meat or from eating animals that died from disease. They have acidic stomachs and a shorter digestive tract that absorbs food nutrients quickly and produces waste at a rapid rate. This process lowers the chances of bacteria multiplying in the gut.

Without predators and scavengers such as wolves, the stench factor while on hiking trails would be an assault on the senses!

Photo below is of Kweo who lived at Wolfwood Refuge until he passed at a grand old age. RIP, handsome wolf.

Wolf family dynamics: Febuary 12th, 2023

All wolf enthusiasts are aware that the main unit of the wolf social system is the pack...formed mostly as an extended family unit. Members of packs are extremely close. Wolf biologist John Theberge stated "Their social bonding and care-giving behavior are second only to humans and other social primates."

Wolf packs can range in size from less than ten to more than fifty. Most wolf packs are four to seven individuals.

Rick McIntyre, in his book 'The Reign of Wolf 21' [Yellowstone wolf] noted that he witnessed a wonderful observation of the loving nature of a wolf pack:

Two days later, I found some of the young Druids returning to the rendezvous site from a fresh elk carcass in Lamar Valley. The lead wolf, a black pup, was carrying a leg from the carcass. When it arrived at the rendezvous site, that pup dropped the leg next to the injured yearling, wagged his tail, then greeted him submissively. The pup moved off, leaving the leg for its packmate. That pup was used to adult wolves giving it food and now it had maturedto the point where it was giving food to its injured older brother.

Many people have observed the act of mourning in a pack that loses a member to death. Jim Brandenburg wrote of arctic wolves visiting the body of a yearling wolf. "One by one they would sniff his body then curl up beside him."

Such is the admirable nature of a wolf family.

Photo below is of Majesty who lives at Wolfwood Refuge.

The Specter of Rabies: February 7th, 2023

There are many people who, in modern times, falsely believe that wolves are common carriers of rabies. It is actually very rare in the modern wolf. According to the CDC, 98% of rabies today in North America occur in skunks, bats, raccoons or foxes. And if wolves do contract rabies, it is usually from foxes or skunks.

Over about a 20 year time period, only a handful of rabies cases were confirmed in North American wolves. An example of how rare this is comes from Alaska, a state with over 6,000 wolves. Only 4 cases of rabies have been verified since 1987...a time period of over 36 years.

While wolves in modern times are widely rabies free all over the world, it was not always so historically. Rabies among wolves in the Middle Ages was very common and probably gave rise to many of the wolf myths that persist even today. Wouldn't it be wonderful if common sense would allow humankind to shed the myths now that we know the reason behind them?

As a testament to how reactive humans are to cases of rabies, in northern Alberta in 1952, ONE wolf was found to have rabies. The resulting poisoning of the area over 4 years caused the death of 4,200 wolves, 50,000 red foxes, 35,000 coyotes, 7,500 lynx, 1,850 bears, 500 skunks, and 764 cougars as a result of the paranoia.

About Wolf Colorization: February 1st, 2023

Some wolves have dark patches on their faces. The Koyukon Indians have a story about this. They believed the patches came about in Distant Time. The story they told was that this happened when Raven tricked a Wolf by throwing the guts of a Caribou in its face.

Although the gray colorization is most common, variations in color within a litter is not uncommon. Black wolves are less common the farther south they appear in their range. The creamy white color of the high Arctic wolves is the result of an evolutionary event. White hairshafts hold more air pockets than coloration and therefore are more insulating.

Although most white wolves are often found in far northern latitudes, in the past that was not so. The Lewis and Clark Expedition reported that they saw large numbers of white wolves in the 1800's on the plains. There are many confirmations of this in historical records. White wolves do occasionally appear in the Minnesota region.

Although there is one anecdotal event of a white wolf with pink eyes who was killed by a hunter in 1957, there are no documented cases of the true albino wolves.

Interesting, right?

The Origins of Canid Families:January 23rd, 2023

About 60 million years ago, wolf ancestors appeared on the planet. Robert Wayne, a researcher at the University of California, suggests that two to three million years ago a number of wolf-like canids arose from a common ancestor, miacids.

It is believed Canis lupus probably appeared first in Eurasia around one million years ago and then migrated to North America around 750,000 years ago.

Dire wolves, Canis dirus, were a bit larger and heavier than the gray wolf. The former evolved earlier on and the two species coexisted for about 400,000 years in North America. The main source of prey for Canis dirus had an extinction crisis around 16,000 years ago due to climate change. This led to the gradual demise of the dire wolf and the gray wolf was crowned the prime canine predator in North America around 7,000 years ago.

Long live the gray wolf!

About Wolf Communication: January 17th, 2023

Wolves howl in chorus, some of them changing pitch to project the illusion of many voices. General Ulysses S. Grant wrote in his memoirs of hearing wolves in his travels. His guide asked the question of Grant to estimate the number of wolves ahead. Grant replied, "Oh, about twenty." They rode on to discover only two sitting on their haunches and howling.

A man named Roger Peters, writing his doctorate on wolf communication, believed that "wolves enter a fifteen-minute refractory period, during which nothing in the world can get them to howl again," after a howling session. His conclusion was that this silence was to allow time for listening for a response from other packs. Smart!

What is the maximum distance wolf howls can be heard? A possible 10 miles if conditions are right!

I found it somewhat sad to read that wolves in southern Asia rarely howl and the theory behind that is the long-term persecution of wolves by humans pushing the evolution of a quieter wolf.

Wolfie Tidbits: January 10th, 2023

One reason wolves are so curious about their world is due to their high level of intelligence. According to biologist V. Goerttler, wolves possess brains 31% larger than domestic dogs. (Yes, humans have dumbed our furry friends down.)

You can ask anyone at Wolfwood Refuge who spends time in and out of the enclosures "Have you ever witnessed the intelligence of wolves?" and you will get many, many answers pointing to the overwhelming knowledge we see on a regular basis.

A statement that struck me about wolf intelligence was told by Michael W. Fox, an animal behaviorist who wrote 'The Soul of the Wolf.' He stated in an article in the Journal of Mammalogy that "a captive wolf that moved its cubs indoors when the keeper hosed down the outside pen, and then shut the door behind the cubs [did so] by pulling on a pulley rope."

How about some interesting wolf information? (January 2nd, 2023)

Wolves have a high curiosity level. But they don't see very far...according to R. D. Lawrence. Their eyes don't have a foveal pit which allows for sharp focusing. Lawrence estimated that they cannot discern packmates, by sight, beyond 100 to 150 feet.

I brought that up because this plays into the fact that they will watch humans out of curiosity and will follow them at a distance to be able to smell our footprints and scent. Their desire to figure us out has made some people think they were 'being hunted' and is very much a case of mistaken perception on the human's part.

I decided to do this kind of information thing about once per week. Paula asked me to share this one and possibly future ones. "Of course" I said.
( Lenette De Forest: January 2nd, 2023)

Copyright (C)2002-2021 Wolfwood Refuge
Please send website feedback to talon@sidhe.com