Grey wolves have long embodied the spirit of the wilderness. Yet their young are born deaf and blind in dens and totally reliant on the pack, and their mother, for warmth and food. Hunting with the pack begins before the pups are a year old.
Arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos) are a subspecies of the grey wolf. They are native to the Canadian Arctic and have consequently had little contact with humans. The images below provide a privileged insight into their family life.
The wolf pups emerge from the den, which is abandoned after about 10 weeks. This image was taken by a remote-control buggycam, allowing us a very privileged look into the entrance.
Wolf pups named Banjo, Lola and Meg sitting outside their den on Ellesmere Island in the High Arctic. Usually four to six pups are born in a season, but pup survival is directly related to prey availability.
Howling allows wolves to communicate over long distances; it can keep the pack united when defending territory or warn neighbouring wolves to stay away. Social howling is used to locate one another, rally together – or sometimes just for fun.
It may look like playful fun, but wolf pups play fight to compete for dominance, with the hierarchy constantly changing within the family or pack.
Wolf pups in the Arctic are surprisingly bold, inquisitive and unafraid of people. This may be because these wolves have had little contact with humans due to the remoteness and inhospitable nature of the Arctic.
For the first 10 weeks the pups need their mother’s milk to survive, multiple pups can be suckled at the same time outside the den.
Young wolf pups beg their mother to regurgitate solid food for them, which supplements solid food brought back by the adults.
After the pups have been weaned, they rely on food brought back to the den by the adults, such as a muskox leg, eventually they start to follow the adults on short hunting trips.
Yearling wolf Scruffy with three-month-old pups, the wolves grow rapidly and at six months old they are almost the size of an adult.
See the Arctic wolves in Snow Wolf Family & Me - watch both episodes on iPlayer.
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