Wolves are social animals who live, hunt and eat in packs. Wolves belong to family groups which are known as Packs and each of these packs consists of about 8-15 members. Ofcourse, there is the concept of ‘lone wolf’ according to which a wolf separates from his/her pack and hunts and lives alone. But this is a rare exception.
Like any other social structure or form, the wolves too observe a social hierarchy among themselves where there is one wolf who leads the pack and enjoys the highest level of social freedom. In a wolf pack, there are those who lead and then there are those who simply follow. Unlike humans, no one gives orders but there is a general observation of the general social hierarchy. Let’s learn about the wolves social hierarchy in detail.
The alpha pair is that pair of wolves(usually a male and a female) who lead the pack and hold the most social freedom. They decide where to go, when to go and have the freedom to do what they like. The male wolf usually gets the larger chunk of the hunted food whereas the female partner enjoys more food than the others as well.
The alpha pair collectively are the leaders but unlike humans, they do not give orders or make rules. They just simply lead the pack like the head of the family. The death of one Alpha does not affect the other one because it may soon mate with another wolf.
In larger wolf packs, the beta wolf is the second in command after the Alpha pair and is one who enjoys maximum freedom after the pair as compared to the other pack members. The rank order to become the beta wolf is usually decided and maintained through a series of fights, in which the wolves have to show their skills at warfare.
Lower Ranking Wolves
Besides the alpha pair and the beta wolves, the rest of the wolves fall at the bottom of the pyramid and simply follow the Alpha pair as far as hunting and moving from one place to another is concerned. All the pack members are responsible for raising the pups equally and may not enjoy as much food or hunt as the higher level pack members do. On the basis of the physical strength and size, the lower ranking wolves can compete for the higher positions as well.