The physical features of wolves allow them to compete with some of the best predators. With large sharp canine teeth, top speeds, powerful jaws, and ultra-keen senses, it’s easy to see why they are top-tier hunters. However, it’s their mating habits that are more fascinating.
Do wolves mate for life? How does a wolf mark its mate? What happens if a wolf rejects its mate? Here, we analyze the wolves mating behavior and answer all the questions that you may have on this front.
Wolves Mating Season
Most wolf species mate between January and April (late winter to early spring). Male wolves can breed all year round. On the contrary, the alpha female usually has only 5 to 7 days of estrus, so everything has to happen quickly. The mating partners even move away from the rest of the pact to avoid interruption.
Wolves Mating Habits and Rituals
Marking a mating partner is one of the mating rituals of wolves. When the alpha male seeks a partner, he will sniff the female’s genitals. Females release sex hormones known as pheromones when they are ready to breed. If an alpha male doesn’t smell these hormones, he waits or finds a new mate.
Some species, such as the werewolves, mark their mating partners by biting them between the shoulder and the neck. This completes the first part of bonding. The emotions might be in check, but the thoughts are also important.
Mating partners play with each other to “read each other’s thoughts.” They bond by grooming each other, licking their faces, and performing special mating dances (for the alpha males). Depending on the species, the wolves bonding process may include the following:
- Making quiet whining sounds
- Touch noses
- Bump their bodies together
- Mouth each other’s muzzles
- On rare occasions, the male may toss, tilt his head, or bow to the alpha female as if to flirt.
Once the female alpha is ready, the pair will mate.
Do Wolves Mate for Life?
Yes, gray wolves mate for life. They have monogamous relationships; they remain together throughout their adult life. However, the alpha pair always reserve sexual rights in every breeding season. Mating pairs continue to show affection even after the breeding season ends. They take care of their pups together.
What Happens If a Wolf Rejects Its Mate?
It can be challenging for humans to locate and tell couples apart in a pack of similar-looking wolves. However, wolves have unique scents and can quickly identify each other. This is how they stay with a single mating partner for long.
Even though most wolf species mate for life, rejections sometimes occur. It’s usually very painful for the rejected partner, and aggressive behavior such as rape may ensue. They do so in a bid to re-mark their mates.
Why Wolves Lock When Mating
After copulation, the mating pairs can lock together (for about 30 minutes to 1 hour) in what scientists call a copulatory tie. While some claim that the ties happen to help the mates bond more, there is a scientific explanation that makes more sense.
During copulation, there is a possibility that the bulbus glandis (the erectile tissue at the base of a male wolf’s penis) will fill with blood, making it swell. The swelling can grow to twice the size of an average penis, and the muscles in the alpha female’s vagina contract.
As a result, the copulating mates lock together until the swollen glands heal. This is entirely natural, and the wolves can do nothing to prevent it.
Are Wolves Possessive of Their Mates?
Most wolf species are possessive of their mates. The alpha male doesn’t play around – once he identifies and marks his mate, the other males stay away. Fortunately, the animals seem to have a common understanding, so unmated males will only select from the available females.
Wolves are well-known predators who compete with the best in the jungle. However, they are more famous for their monogamous breeding partners. Female wolves have unique scents that their partners use to identify them. The pairs have fascinating mating behaviors and rituals. Mating usually happens from January to April; partners help care for the pups.