FOR CAPTIVE BREEDING OF
THE MEXICAN WOLF
(Canis lupus baileyi)
HOUSING and ENCLOSURES
- Containment barriers for Mexican wolf facilities must keep wolves
in, keep intruders out, and limit human access to wolves for public
safety and wolf mental health. Barriers may be constructed of wire
mesh (nine gauge or heavier chain link), solid walls, glass, or a
combination of these materials.
- Shelters should be provided to allow animals privacy and escape
from inclement weather.
- Enclosures should be provided with deadfall, logs, trees and
bushes. There should be varied topography. These features allow the
wolf an opportunity to climb, hide play, mark territory and carry out
other natural behaviors.
- A minimum size of 930 square meters has been suggested for
Mexican wolf breeding facilities. Wolves have shown considerable
stress when housed in undersized areas as evidenced by pacing,
aggression, nervousness, poor reproduction and care of offspring.
- Facilities should include areas for shifting, capturing,
isolating and introducing animals.
- Enclosures should be designed so that less than 25% of the
enclosure perimeter is accessible to zoo visitors, non-animal care
staff and vehicles. Mexican wolves should not be housed where they
have visual contact with other large carnivores.
BEHAVIOR and SOCIAL
- A breeding pair with young-of-the-year social groupings have
proven to be quite cohesive. Also, groupings of a breeding pair with
two consecutive litters has worked out well. In this case the primary
litter benefits of experiencing and assisting with the growth an
development of the secondary litter, while the secondary litter
benefits from group social interaction.
- Denning is critical for pup survival in the wild. Significant
loss of pups will occur if the female parent does not whelp in a
natural den. It is beneficial for Mexican wolves to experience in
actual den digging or to have come from a natural den as pups.
- Parent-raised offspring are preffered by this program. At times
this approach to husbandry may be emotionally difficult for the
animal care staff who recognize that they could do more to aid in the
survival of individual pups. However, cautious, limited handling can
occur under specialized circumstances.
- Under no circumstances are "uncertified" wolves to breed with
"certified" Mexican wolves.
- Unlike dogs, breeding in wolves is seasonal and occurs only once
a year. Breeding usually occurs in Februrary and March. The gestation
period is from sixty to sixty-three days. Whelping takes place in
April or May.
- Both males and females are sexually mature at age 2.
- Male wolf genetals recede in the spring and are reduced in the
summer. In the fall there will be an enlargement of the scrotum and a
loss of hair from the scrotal area.
- The breeding status of a female is not easily detectable. There
may be an enlargement of the nipples and there might be a noticeable
change in the behavior of males.
- Wolves exhibit strong pair bonding, however sometimes wolves will
breed with a new individual.
- It is very important to allow the wolves to become familiar with
eachother and their surroundings. Mating pairs should be put into a
breeding pen several months prior to breeding season.
- Annual check-ups of breeding wolves should be done in the fall so
as not to interfere with breeding.
- Nutritional requirements for Mexican wolves are assumed to be the
same as those for domestic dogs.
- High quality extruded dog foods such as Ralston Purina Pro
Plan or Hill's Science Diet should be fed.
- Adult Mexican wolves weighing 22 to 32 kg should be fed 1,300 to
1,800 kcal of metabolizable energy per day.
- Beef of horse shank are often fed to captive wolves. These are
valuable as enviromental/behavioral enrichment, promote good dental
health and strengthen cranial muscle and bone.
- Wolves should be fed once a day but can be fasted one day a week.
- Good nutrition is essential to successful breeding. Pregnant
bitches need 30% more food than usual and lactating bitches need 2-3
times the amount of food.
-This information was provided by:
Kent A. Newton
Rio Gande Zoological Park
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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