The Wildlife Science Center is very excited to welcome another round of wolf pups into our pack! We collected pups from two more litters on Wednesday, with birthdates on April 22nd and 23rd. Both mothers had large litters, and we left a few pups for them to care for while we hand-raise the rest. Both wolves are experienced mothers, and the two dens they dug could not have been more different! The slightly older litter were born in a deep, long den that had plenty of room for mom and pups to move around in. Clearly, some considerable time had gone into excavating it. The younger litter had a much shallower, simpler den, as if the mom had gotten to a certain point and finally considered it "good enough." Not suprisingly, gathering those pups was much easier! From the outside, the second den closely resembled one a wild wolf might dig, making for a cool photo op.
With two age classes, feeding time becomes very interesting! The first round of pups that began bottle feeding last week are now making a smooth transition over to meat. They are often consuming more vension or raw diet than milk, and most of them are to the point where they can eat it out of a bowl, without puppy nannies having to hand-feed it to them. In contrast, the newest litters are just learning about the bottle, and take much more time to feed. This streches out their feeding sessions to over an hour long, meaning that even though all pups have to be fed every four hours, by time they've finished eating the puppy nannies are ramping up for another feeding in three hours or less. A special thank-you shout-out to Meg, who has been pulling some killer night shifts to make sure every pup is cared for!
While some of the newest pup's eyes are just opening, the older pups are beginning to hear for the first time. Pup ears generally open at about 21 days old, and it makes raising them a totally new experience. Nannies now have to be careful about startling pups, or waking them up from a nap. Gone are the days when a metal dish can be dropped without consequence! The last thing we want to do is trigger a fear response at such an impressionable age. Despite the challenges, there are now new opportunities to communicate. Nannies have been whimpering and howling to the pups all along, but now the older pups can hear and respond to those noises, allowing them to be far more reassuring. A new chapter is beginning for these little guys! Stay tuned.