Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

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kryptonut1
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Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by kryptonut1 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:07 pm

Hi everyone, hope you're having a great week!

I have a question about a specific wolf behavior that I've observed the captive wolves at my zoo doing almost every time I visit. I have scoured the internet as well as all the wolf books at my library and have found nothing on it. I was wondering if someone here might be able to help.

Here is a link to a video I took of the behavior earlier this month.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sEmJBZNf3c

First, a bit of an introduction. The zoo has a pack made up of four North American grey wolves who are all siblings, born in 2009. They are all spayed/neutered. The two wolves in this video are Rocki(standing) and Dakota (lying down). Rocki is the currently the beta female and has been for two years at least, but when the pups first came to the zoo she was the most dominant. Dakota is the alpha male.

In the video, they chew/mouth each other's necks. To me it looks pretty playful, but I'm no expert. Is this a courtship behavior? The alpha/most dominant female walked by and made no attempt to stop what they were doing.

Also, I have seen Dakota initiate this behavior with the Meeka, current alpha/most dominant female. Meeka has also initiated this with Dakota. I have not seen Shiloh, the omega female, participate in this behavior.

Thank you so much for reading though all that. I really appreciate it, and I hope someone can help. :)

Thanks!

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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by Koa » Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:43 pm

It's not courtship behavior. The hierarchy in captive wolf packs is often rigid (hence the use of the alpha/beta/omega terms; this would not apply to a wild wolf pack as wild wolf packs typically consist of a breeding pair and their offspring) and wolves use a great deal of body language to communicate. Displays of dominance are more prevalent in captive wolf packs moreso than wild wolf packs, though considering the animals here are related it probably isn't as prevalent as a group of spayed/neutered unrelated wolves in captivity.
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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by kryptonut1 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:01 pm

Koa wrote:It's not courtship behavior. The hierarchy in captive wolf packs is often rigid (hence the use of the alpha/beta/omega terms; this would not apply to a wild wolf pack as wild wolf packs typically consist of a breeding pair and their offspring) and wolves use a great deal of body language to communicate. Displays of dominance are more prevalent in captive wolf packs moreso than wild wolf packs, though considering the animals here are related it probably isn't as prevalent as a group of spayed/neutered unrelated wolves in captivity.
I didn't think it was a courtship behavior. Thanks for clarifying.

Are you saying that the female wolf is displaying dominance over the male, then? I'm sorry, I'm just wondering. Because I've observed him showing dominance over her as well.

Thank you so much for taking the time to watch the video and type out an answer for me. I really appreciate it. :)

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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by BlackWarrior » Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:58 am

I'm no wolf observational expert, but after viewing the video, I do believe this appears to be some sort of play. If you have ever watched two dogs play together, many times they will display similar behavior; one dog on the ground nipping and lying on the back while the other bites them. It's sort of like wrestling with another family member. With so many similarities between dogs and wolves (even though there are many differences) their behavior is often similar -- reason being why this may be an act of friendly pack play. After watching the video again, the wolves are wagging their tails through a large portion of it. Not to mention that playful and relaxed socialization is important within packs. ^^

As Koa stated, it most likely doesn't relate to courtship. Although again, I'm not an expert. :3 It may somehow relate to dominance, but this is something I'd have to do further research on. I'll have a look at what I can find.
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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by ZippyWizard » Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:10 pm

Yeah, this doesn't look like it would be aggressive or even courting. Wolves often play with each other, as they are very close to each other (almost like siblings) and while this is not courtship, it could be classified as affectionate, like jokingly punching your sibling in the arm or something of the likes. Since the 'alpha' male was lying on the ground, this is certainly not a statement of dominance, and if it was the alpha would have quickly taken over the other wolf. So I think this is just some playtime between packmates. Nothing severe.
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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by kryptonut1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:08 pm

Thank you for the answers guys, you've been very helpful. :) I agree that it looks like a playful interaction between packmates.

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Re: Question on a specific wolf behavior (video)

Post by Alpha Female » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:57 pm

Thanks for helping everyone! ^^
Since the question seems answered, I'll go ahead and lock up. Thanks!


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