A wolf pup’s first home is the den – it’s like a nursery!
The den is simply a cave or hole and can be dug under a boulder, among tree roots, between rocks, or in the ground. Dens are often reused by generations of wolves; sometimes wolf families look for new dens every year. Occasionally wolves will use abandoned dens of other animals, such as bear, coyote, or fox. Even a beaver dam can be repurposed as a den. Although pups might emerge from the den at about 3 weeks old, pups tend to spend most of their time in or around the den for about 2 months.
All the enclosures at the Wolf Conservation Center offer at least one man-made den; most of them (like this Mexican gray wolf den) are made from culverts. The culverts offer shelter and allow wolves to stay dry in stormy weather, avoid insects during “buggy” seasons, and sneak away from pesky family members when some “me time” a priority.
Although the WCC provides these no-hassle dens for all resident wolves – some expectant moms prefer their personal touch and opt to engineer some really fantastic nurseries on their own!