Wolves - Reproduction

The receptive period of females to mating is locally synchronized. In the Bale Mountains typically to less than two weeks, sometime between August and November (Sillero-Zubiri et al., 1998). Courtship primarily involves the dominant male accompanying the dominant female constantly.  The female discourages attempts from all but the pack's dominant male, but she is receptive to any visiting male from neighbouring packs (Sillero-Zubiri et al., 1996).

Breeding females typically are replaced after death by a resident daughter, resulting in a high potential for inbreeding, to some extent circumvented by extra-pack copulations and multiple-paternity (Gottelli et al., 1994; Sillero-Zubiri et al., 1996; Randall et al., 2007).

Gestation lasts from 60-62 days and the dominant female of each pack may give birth once a year between October and December (Sillero-Zubiri et al., 1996). During the breeding season the pups and nursing females use a den. Up to seven pups may emerge from the den after three weeks.

All pack members guard the den, chase potential predators, and regurgitate or carry rodent prey to feed the pups.  Subordinate females may assist the dominant female in suckling the pups (Sillero-Zubiri, 1994; Sillero-Zubiri et al., 2004).

By week 10, the pups subsist almost entirely on solid foods supplied by helpers, and they stop receiving food from adults when they are around one year old. Full adult appearance is attained at two years and both sexes become sexually mature during their second year.