If wolves die of natural causes and they know they will die, they will usually retreat to somewhere they are private so they can die alone. They don’t want to show their struggles to other animals, which is typical for many wild animals as they die of natural causes.
Starvation and diseases are two of the most common reasons why wolves die. When they die because of these reasons, they will likely retreat to somewhere they’re alone so they can fade away in peace.
However, a majority of wolf deaths are not caused by diseases or old age, but rather other factors. Some of the main ones include:
- Territorial fights
- Poaching by humans
- Car accidents
In those cases, wolves don’t die alone as there might be other wolves next to it.
Why Do Wolves Die Alone?
One of the main reasons why many adult wolves opt to die alone is to not show their struggle to other animals.
You might have already seen your cat or dog die of natural reasons… When that happened, they probably retreated to somewhere they’d be alone, right?
Well, the same happens with wolves.
Wolves are very conscientious about what signals they give to their environment. They want to appear as mighty and as strong as possible, with a few notable exceptions (omega wolves and pups).
There’s a psychological reason behind this characteristic that can be observed with wolves, but also with many other species in the wild. When the wolf feels like it will die or when it’s struggling, it prefers peace and tranquility to try and overcome their problems alone and not share them with others.
Read Also: What Happens to Old Wolves in the Pack?
Do All Wolves Die Alone?
Sometimes the death of a wolf might come quickly and unexpectedly, so they don’t die alone, but rather in the company of other wolves.
This is particularly apparent when a wolf dies because of external factors such as territorial attacks from other wolves or because of poachers that kill wolves intentionally.
Wolves will not kill other wolves from its pack, although they will try to kill other wolves from other packs. And when a wolf from their own pack gets injured, they’ll probably do everything they can to help the injured wolf – however, sometimes that just might not be enough.
Wolves have a strong companionship instinct, though. They will try to help one another, even though adult wolves are perfectly capable of surviving on their own.
When a wolf’s death comes about quickly, they won’t die alone. However, when the death is expected and the wolf has been struggling because of diseases or starvation, they will prefer to die alone.
What Happens When a Wolf Dies?
When a wolf dies, the wolf will usually retreat to a remote location if it knows it’s dying, and it will curl up into a ball and die out. If the wolf was the alpha male of the pack, another wolf will assume the role of the alpha leader to replace it.
Wolf packs will adapt to the death of one of their members. You might think that it will take some grief and time for the pack to come to terms with the death of the wolf.
However, life goes on. If the deceased wolf was the alpha wolf, the pack will spend no time in replacing it.
Another wolf (most commonly, the alpha female) will assume the role of the leader of the pack. If there is no alpha female, then the most mature offspring will become the newest alpha member of the pack. And that’s how the generations change in wolf packs – as one wolf dies, another one replaces it instantly.
However, most of the wolf deaths occur to wolf puppies – up to about 60% of all wolves deaths occur to wolf offspring.
One of the main factors for that is hunger and starvation. Some pups just won’t get enough food, especially when the pack goes through a period of famine.
Diseases can also be fatal, and they’re especially dangerous to wolf pups, again. Mange, canine parvovirus, distemper, and other wolf diseases are often fatal to pups who might or might not die alone. Pups usually die in the company of the pack, although larger pups can also die alone.
Can Wolves Survive Alone?
Most adult wolves are capable of surviving alone, even if they wander away from the pack for several days or even weeks.
However, pups are not capable of providing for themselves and will eventually die if they stray too far away from their pack. They might die of starvation or might get poached by other animals such as bears or wild cats.
It’s quite common for adult wolves to live on their own for several days.
You might have already heard the term “lone wolf”. This term comes from the wolves’ ability to live on their own and stray away from the pack for several days. This does happen in the wild often, as male wolves, in particular, look for new adventures. Sometimes, this happens out of necessity as they look for food.
When adult males go off on their own, they will look to hunt down smaller mammals and rodents to feed themselves. They don’t need to hunt larger species because they’re not able to bring them down, but they also don’t need to consume as much meat as they do in a wolf pack. Lone wolves can travel several miles each day to find food.
When a wolf dies, changes are made to the wolf pack. If the alpha male dies, then another male from the pack will replace it, and that’s how the tradition lives.
Some adult wolves will prefer to die alone, especially if they know they’re going to fade away soon. Even though wolves might feel a bit of sadness when one of their pack members dies, life goes on and they have to adapt as a group to face new challenges that come their way every day in order to survive.