Why Do Wolves Howl?
Wolves howl to assemble their pack, attract a mate, mark territory, scare off enemies, signal alarm or communicate their position. Sometimes they howl when they wake up in the morning, like humans yawning during a stretch. It’s even been suggested that wolves howl to confuse enemies and prey.
Projecting their call upward allows the sound to carry farther. Wolves have excellent hearing, and under certain conditions can hear a howl as far as six miles away in the forest and ten miles away on the open tundra. A wolf howl is a deep and continuous sound from about half a second to 11 seconds long.
Wolves communicate with each other by howling. Wolves live in packs that stake out large territories for hunting and raising families. A pack of wolves likes to keep other packs out if its territory. So one wolf pack howls at a neighboring pack, thereby warning it to stay away.
Members of a pack keep in touch with one another when they are hunting far apart. Wolves sometimes howl together before they go hunting, although no one knows exactly why. Recent research has found that wolves howl most frequently to the members of their packs they spend the most time with. That sounds an awful lot like humans chatting about the day.
Contrary to popular belief, wolves do not howl at the full moon any more often than at any other time of month. Wolves howl at night because they are lonely is also not true. They do howl more frequently during the hours around sunrise and sunset, for they are more active in general then.
Wolves also howl more often in the winter months than in the summer. However they can be heard howling any time of day any time of the year.
Wolves have emotional lives, can experience emotions such as joy and grief. Wolves mourn lost pack members. After the death of a wolf, the remainder of the pack walk with their heads and tails held low – a sign of depression. They no longer howl as a group, but each cries in their own way.