It arouses fascination, almost fear, but also a certain curiosity about the meanings that are hidden from us: we are talking about howling, the typical call of the wolf, which is sometimes used by its "domestic cousins", dogs. We have learned to appreciate this unique reputation through documentaries and films about werewolves, although its causes and meanings remain mostly inexplicable. Do you know why wolves howl? Let's see it together.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A WOLF HOWLS
The wolf uses the howling as a "social call". In this way, the animal communicates its position to its comrades, probably in order to receive in return the same information about others. This sound cue has another essential function in hunting: it warns nearby packs that another group is already occupying the area.
- The howling wolf indicates a sense of community
There's something sad about the howling wolf but the sounds don't necessarily have a negative background. When wolves howl, they want to communicate with each other, for example, when they gather to hunt. Wolves also howl to make contact with the opposite sex in order to start a family.
As lonely as the wolf howl may seem, it essentially expresses belonging to the pack. A wolf's howl is sent back by the pack. Animals can hear the howl up to 15 kilometers away and mark their territory. Other wolves are reported: "This far and no further." If foreign wolves can't be driven out of the hunting ground by the wolf pack, it can lead to battles for territory.
- A precocious instinct
Wolf puppies are capable of howling from about four weeks old. The main emphasis is on individual sound training, as howling is used to establish contact with the family for the first time. In addition, the young animals learn the dialect of the pack which differs according to areas and species.
- Wolves howl to say goodbye
In some cases, the wolf howl is actually melancholic: when a member leaves the pack, the animals express their grief with the howling wolf. According to biologist, this phenomenon has been observed on several occasions as a result of an international research.
WHY DOES WOLF HOWL AT THE MOON?
- Myths and legends
There is an ancient legend that tells how, on a dark night, the moon came down to earth to discover its mysteries. But while she was playing among the trees, she became entangled in their branches. A wolf came to free her, and they spent the whole night telling stories, playing and enjoying themselves.
The Moon fell in love with the spirit of the wolf, and in a selfish gesture, she stole his shadow to remember that night forever. Since then, the wolf has been howling at the moon to beg for its shadow back.
- The breeding season
At the beginning of the mating season, in February and March, wolves howl a lot. At this time of the year, the forests are still bare. If the moon is still shining, it's likely that humans will see a howling wolf. That's how the connection between howling and the moon came about.
But in reality, the wolf doesn't really care about the moon. There is not enough scientific proof to support the hypothesis that the phases of the moon have something to do with the howl of the wolf.
WHY WOLF HOWLS IN THE NIGHT?
Wolves hunt mostly at dusk and at night. That's when they mostly howl. Of course, they also communicate with each other during the day. But that doesn't impress people as much as wolves howling in the dark of night.
HOW DOES A WOLF HOWL SOUND?
Instead of trying to describe the howl of a wolf, here is a wolf howl sound:
HOW FAR CAN WOLF HEAR?
Wolves have very good hearing. They have relatively small, triangular standing ears. You can hear the howls of another species from about 6 km away, up to 10 km in good wind conditions. Even during periods of rest and sleep, they keep their environment under control.
Also, because of the mobility of their ears, they can locate the source of the sound. Wolves are even able to perceive rodent sounds in the ultrasonic range - a world that is completely hidden from human hearing. The wolf hears sounds up to a frequency of 42,000 Hz, a young person up to about 20,000 Hz, and older people up to about 11,000 Hz.
HOW FAR CAN YOU HEAR A WOLF HOWL?
If the animal howled towards the ground, its sounds would be heard less. So the wolf puts its head back, throws its howl into the night sky and can be heard up to 10 kilometers away.
WHY DO WOLF DOGS HOWL?
Whether it's a dog or a wolf dog, it's not uncommon to hear them howling. The dog's howling is considered to be a different language: a manifestation that occurs less frequently and is mostly related to other factors. In addition to the sled dog's familiarity with this reputation, the dog may cry to gain a "social reputation" or to show an uncomfortable condition.
This explains the special setting, if the dog is left alone: the sadness of this circumstance causes the animal to desire its pack, which in this case refers to its human owner.
Don't be afraid of the howling of our adorable friends, which sounds in response to certain sounds like sirens or bells: this does not mean discomfort, but simply the desire to participate in a sound, often with hilarious results.
TO SUM UP...
The cry of the wolf can therefore translate different things: marking the territory, gathering the pack, asserting his position as dominant male during the mating period. It is a very powerful and well elaborated communication tool within the pack. Each species of wolf and each pack has its own language that distinguishes it from other groups of wolves.
If you want to learn more about wolf behavior, we recommend you to read our blog post on 15 amazing facts about the wolf.