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WOLF

We all know that babies are cute, at least most of them. However, wolf pups are incredibly adorable. The main thing to remember is that babies are cute to perpetuate the species, no matter what it is. The most amazing fact is that once the pups are born, everything is about keeping them alive at all costs, taking care of them, and then teaching them. This is done by the pack as a whole, not just mom. All wolves participate in the care and teaching of the pups as this ensures their survivability and the continuation of the pack.

Conception to birth is roughly sixty-three days and, a litter usually consists of four to six pups. Their eyes and ears are closed when they are born, and they are unable to regulate their body temperature, yet another reason mom is so important. They can smell, but mostly they can taste and touch, which is the most important. This helps them to recognize their pack members from early on, most obviously mom, as they need to feed from her. They eat about four to five times a day for a few minutes at a time. Pups are born in a den which has to be large enough for mom and pups and is typically guarded so that nothing else can get in there. The sounds they make at this point are whining and yelping. And, of course, they can lick and suck to feed from mom. Mother wolf is an incredible housekeeper, cleaning up any messes that are made so that the den stays clean. She does this by eating all of the birthing remnants (the sacs, the cords, and the placenta) as well as stimulating the pups to urinate and defecate which she also ingests. No one said being a mom was easy. As she is unable to leave the den to go out and hunt, typically, the other wolves will bring her meat to sustain her through her trials of taking care of the pups. Occasionally, another non-breeding female will also produce milk and be able to feed the pups, but this is not a normal occurrence.

Their eyes start to open up along with their ears a couple of weeks after birth. They also start stumbling about in the den and, once steady, even venture outside of the den for short bits of time. Their milk teeth appear shortly after. By weeks four and five they start eating tiny bits of meat, they start getting adventurous outside of the den, with supervision, of course. The pups learn to lick the mouths of the other wolves to get them to regurgitate food for them. Their head and feet get disproportionately bigger as the rest of their bodies try to catch up. As they start play fighting and showing dominance, they are also getting more vocal, beginning to growl and whimper, along with sharing their slightly squeaky howl. Their “play” also includes “attacking and killing” bones, feathers, and skins of dead animals and after they “kill” their “prey” they carry it around like fantastic trophies.

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