Pack Life

A wolf pack is a family

Wolf packs in the wild are generally a family group, most often made up of one dominant breeding pair and other subordinate wolves, usually adult offspring. The pack hunts and raises pups together. The wolf pack is one of nature's most sophisticated social orders and pack hierarchy is maintained through a variety of vocalizations, body postures, and scent marking.

photo credit: NPS / Jacob W. Frank


Get off my land!

Wolves are very territorial and communicate with neighbor packs by howling and scent-marking. It is always prudent to try to repel strangers with shows of strength, rather than risk fighting. But wolves will battle if the numbers are in their favor. Yellowstone's Northern Range is home to 8-10 packs that staunchly defend and try to expand their hunting grounds and homes. Conflicts between packs are common and, within the park, are the leading cause of death for a wild wolf.

As a lone wolf or with your new mate, you need to respect rival pack territories or pay the price. Together, you and your mate establish and maintain your own territory.


Read my tail!

Wolves have complex ways of communicating using sounds, scents, and body language. Within the pack, dominant and submissive behaviors keep the peace and reinforce the pack relationships. The parents are in charge!

Learn all about wolf communication from the International Wolf Center

In the game, you use emotes to interact with other wolves and build or discourage interest, or strengthen pack affinity.

Wolf night chorus

Wolves howl to rally their pack, to locate packmates, and build pack affinity. They also howl to warn other packs to stay out of their territory, deterring dangerous conflicts.

Wolves don't howl at the moon but they do direct their howls up so their voices are heard loud and clear. In an open landscape, a wolf howl might be heard for 16km (10 miles)! Wolves howl more at night because that is when they are most active.

audio credit: Dr. Jacob Job, Sound and Light Ecology Team, Colorado State University/Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service.

Surviving Alone and Finding a Mate

A Dispersal Wolf

In northern climates like Yellowstone, the mating season is usually early January through late February. Only the dominant pair breeds and the subordinate wolves help raise the next litter. So, when wolves are about two years old, some may leave their family pack to seek a mate and start a pack of their own.

In WolfQuest, this is where your story starts. You are a two year old dispersal adjusting to life alone.

Learn to Hunt

As a lone wolf, you must learn how to hunt on your own. A lone wolf can find small prey and, with skill, learn to take down larger meals. You'll have to become a good hunter before you can persuade another wolf to become your mate.

Find a Mate

Young dispersal wolves find life alone very challenging. It is hard to survive without the protection and hunting strength of a pack. It is very rare for a non-related wolf to join an established pack. So wolves on their own seek the company other young other wolves -- other dispersals or wolves from other packs who might be interested in leaving their pack so they can breed.

Establishing a Home & Raising a Pack

Establish Territory

Wolves are very territorial. Packs and territory are constantly changing as they battle for space to hunt and raise pups.

Now that you have a mate, establish suitable territory and choose a den site. There are already several other wolf packs with established territories, which they patrol and defend. Two young wolves would have a hard time wresting control from an established pack. Best to seek an unclaimed place away from the competition.

Find a Den

A den may be located in a rock crevice, a hole, or even a tree stump. Ideal dens are safe from neighboring wolf packs and other predators but close to elk herds. Pups are born in early spring and emerge from the den after about a month.

Raise Pups

Once your pups emerge from the den, you and your mate have to work hard, bringing them food, defending the den site from predators, maintaining your territory, and bonding with your pups.

Journey to a Summer Home

As the pups mature, they no longer need the protection of a den. The pack moves to a more open area or "rendezvous site" within their territory. Getting pups to the rendezvous site is the last mission of the current game arc. Feed them as you lead them, protecting them from predators and finding safe passage across the terrain. Once you reach your rendezvous site, spend the summer growing strong pups until the Saga is released and your pups will grow up!

New Hunters

The Saga continues...

By fall, the pups are large enough to travel with the pack and begin learning to hunt. In WolfQuest, this stage of pup life will occur once we finish the Saga, which is now in development.

It takes a long time to become a good hunter. As summer turns to autumn, juvenile pups have begun eating meat from the pack's kills (no more regurgitated happy meals).

When they are about six months old, the pups begin to resemble adult wolves. They hone their skills by hunting smaller prey and following their parents on hunts, watching them take down elk. They begin actively hunting with the pack when they are 7-8 months old.

At about two years old, some wolves disperse from their family pack, seeking mates and starting their own packs. Others remain in their family pack and help raise the breeding pair's next litter of pups. Perhaps someday, this will be a part of the WolfQuest story too!

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