If you’ve ever heard of wolves marking their mates, perhaps you’ve wondered what this means and how they do it. Turns out, this is just one fascinating aspect of wolves’ mating habits. So, how do wolves mark their mates? How do members of a wolf pair treat each other? What are some other members of the animal kingdom that display loyalty to their partners, as most wolves do? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
How Do Wolves Mark Each Other?
Wolves are highly social creatures that tend to live in packs. Certain members of these packs can display rather unique behavior toward each other, especially during specific times of the year.
Marking mates is one such behavior.
Wolves do this during the breeding season when they are selecting a mate. Though males can breed almost year-round, females can only do so for a short period of time each year.
When the alpha male of a pack is ready to choose a mate, he will “mark” his chosen female by sniffing her genitals.
He does this to smell for sex hormones called pheromones. If these hormones are present, it means she’s ready to breed; if not, he may move onto another female, or he will have to wait to mate with his chosen female until she is ready.
This marking is the first step of the breeding process. Once a female has been marked, the other males in the pack know to leave her alone.
After marking, the male and female will engage in a courtship process. During this time, they engage in behaviors that look very much like puppies as play; they may lick each other’s faces, groom each other, and the male may appear to perform a sort of “mating dance” around the female.
When the female is ready, the pair will mate, and the female will give birth to between 4 and 6 babies.
How Do Male Wolves Treat Their Mates?
Most wolves are monogamous, meaning they choose only one mate and stick with that mate for life. A small minority of alpha males will mate with other females in the pack, but in most cases he will only mate with the alpha female.
Wolf mating pairs seem to have a special bond with each other. They tend to stick together as much as possible, and when they are separated from each other, they may howl to communicate over long distances.
Wolves in a mating pair will greet each other when they are reunited after time apart. They will greet each other by sniffing and licking each other’s lips and faces.
Mated wolves will also sleep together at night. They will cuddle close to keep each other feeling warm and secure.
Both males and females in a mated pair are very loving and affectionate toward each other.
Are Wolves Possessive of Their Mates?
Male wolves, the alpha males in particular, are very possessive of their mates. When a male selects his chosen female by marking her, he is basically telling the other males in the group to stay away from her.
The other wolves in the pack seem to respect this marking, as they will leave the marked female alone and will only select a mate from among the available females.
Check out this video to learn more about wolf mating habits:
Why Do Wolves Lock When Mating?
During intercourse, a mating pair of wolves will actually become “locked together” for as long as half an hour. During this period, they will have a difficult time physically separating from each other.
This locking happens when the male’s penis swells inside the female’s vagina, which in turn constricts, producing a tight bond. While it is possible to break this bond before it naturally releases, to do so is extremely painful and may lead to unsuccessful copulation.
So, why do they lock together in this way?
Simply put, the locking ensures the breeding is a success and the females eggs are fertilized.
Since female wolves are only able to breed for a short period of time each year, it’s important that, when they do, the breeding results in a batch of wolf pups.
The locking action keeps the male and female from separating prematurely, giving them the best chance of fertilizing the eggs and successfully producing a litter of healthy babies.
Which Animal is Most Loyal to Its Mate?
Most animals don’t form any lasting bonds with their mate, but there are some that show a surprising amount of loyalty over long periods of time.
With their tendency to choose a single mate for life, gray wolves make the list of animals most faithful to their mates. But what are some of the other animals on the list?
Let’s find out.
- Bald eagles: Bald eagles are one of a few animals that mate for life. Mating pairs of eagles work together to build and refurbish their nest, incubate their eggs, and raise their young, and they will repeat these activities year after year until one member of the pair has died or become impotent.
- Beavers: Beavers also mate for life; in fact, the members of a mating pair not only produce offspring but spend their lives working together, building and maintaining their lodges and helping each other survive. Beavers are family-oriented animals; even after young beavers have left to start their own families, they tend to settle fairly close to the territories of their parents.
- Swans: Swans take “mating for life” to a whole new level. While many monogamous animals will seek a new mate if their previous mate dies, swans will remain without a mate for the rest of their lives if one member of their pair is killed.
- Gibbons: These monkey-like primates also mate for life, and they spend much of their time together. They work together to raise their young, share food and other resources, and watch each other’s backs.
- Owls: Owls mate for life and work together to raise their young. They appear to be very close to each other, as they will stay together and mate with each other throughout the year, not just during mating season.
- Angelfish: Even some fish appear to form lifelong bonds. French angelfish will mate for life and spend all of their time together, defending each other against any threats they may face in the sea.
Wolves mark their mates by sniffing their genitals to determine whether they are ready to breed. Wolves, along with a handful of other animals, tend to choose a single mate, and the two will stay together until one of the pair dies.