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Are Wolves Scared of Fire?

Wolves generally hate fire and will keep away from it. Like many other animals, they’re scared of the flames and extreme heat that fire releases.

If you’re looking to protect yourself in the wild, building a fire is always a good place to start.

In this article, we’ll talk more about how you can use fire to protect yourself, why wolves despise it, and other ways you can avoid being attacked by wolves.

Are Wolves Afraid of Fire?

Yes, wolves are afraid of fire. They’ll typically do whatever they can to avoid it, which is why it’s such a good way to repel wolves in the wild.

Wolves can feel the heat from the fire, and it is unpleasant. They know that it’s dangerous and will typically keep their distance.

Fire be used as an effective defense mechanism against wolves. If you ever notice wolves in an area where you’re camping, lighting a fire would be a good place to start.

Wolves have learned that fire usually means people are around. This fear of fire has been ingrained into their brain, causing a natural flight instinct.


Why Are Wolves Afraid of Fire?

Wolves are scared of fire for a number of reasons:

  • The smoke emits an unpleasant smell.
  • They can feel the extreme heat and knows that it’s dangerous.
  • Fire has been used by humans to fight off wild animals for a long time, creating a connection between fire and humans in the brains of wolves.

Fire has been used as a means of self-defense against wolves and other predators for hundreds of years. As humans used fire against wolves more and more, wolves learned to associate fire with humans.

Over the years, wolves have hence evolved with the knowledge that fire is dangerous. 

The fear of fire is found in many wild animals, as they’ve encountered humans who’ve used fire to hunt them down or to keep them at bay.

The crackling of the firewood may also cause some sort of flight instinct in wolves. It’s an unfamiliar sound, that they may associate with danger or threats.

In short, wolves see fire as a threat to their existence and survival. Wolves are protective animals, and they like to stay safe.


Can You Protect Yourself Against Wolves With Fire?

Yes, but it depends on the circumstances. 

One way to protect yourself against wolves with fire is to build a campfire and sleep next to it at night. Wolves are generally afraid of human beings and will not approach if there are flames around them.

Beware, that this may not work all of the time. Sometimes, wolves will investigate before running, which could get you in trouble.

Related: Are wolves dangerous?

Do Wolves Stay Away From Fire?

Wolves will generally stay away from fire. They can hear the crackling wood from afar, as well as smell the smoke. This could cause them to stay far away.

Wolves are aware that fire can be harmful to their health and safety. They stay away if they notice any sign of a wildfire or man-made fire.

They also stay away from fire, because they’ve learned that it’s a weapon humans use. Humans are one of the wolves’ greatest enemies, as people have been hunting wolves for years.

If they can, they’ll stay away from people or cities.

Grey wolf looking at the sky

Other Ways to Survive a Wolf Attack

Other than using fire, there are several ways you can avoid a wolf attack. You can read about some of the different methods here.

1. Don’t Trigger an Attack

Wolves are incredibly fast and agile, and they hunt and work together as a pack, under the leadership of the alpha wolf. [1] 

While they most often try their best to avoid any type of conflict with humans, they may feel the need to attack at times. 

Hence, the first way of surviving an attack from wolves is to avoid triggering the attack in the first place. Stay out of their way, and don’t do anything that’ll threaten them.

If you’re aware of wolves in the area, do your best to stay out of their territory. Wolves will defend their territory against intruders, as they see these as threats to their pack.

pack of wolves

2. Run & Escape

If you can’t avoid an attack from wolves, you might want to try and escape. While wolves are very fast, with incredible stamina, you might be able to get away, if there’s civilization nearby.

Run to the nearest house, building, or car, if they’re within immediate reach. 

While you won’t be able to outrun a wolf over a mile, you may be able to run a small distance, before they catch up.


3. Curl Into Foetal Position

If you’re unable to escape, curl into a fetal position. 

In this position, you are as small as possible and have some coverage from teeth. It’s a more instinctual reaction than the others, so it has a good chance of success even if you are not thinking straight. 

Curl up with your knees tucked to your chest and put your arms over your head and neck area, tucking them around your ears. 

This position protects your head and neck from injury when you are rolling around on the ground.

When you’re curled up like this, wolves may also be able to pick up, that you’re showing submission. Wolves hunt for food, not for sport, and they generally don’t eat humans.

Showing submission may just be enough for the wolves to let you go.

foetal position

4. Use Anything You Have to Fight Back

If nothing else works, you’ll have to fight back. If you’re facing a single wolf, you may just stand a chance.

There have been recordings of humans being able to best a wolf in a fight, with nothing but bare hands as weapons. [2]

If you do have weapons, you should use them. Anything from a knife to a shovel will improve your chances of survival. Make yourself as big as possible, yell and threaten the wolf. This may scare them away.

fox hunting in the forest


Wolves are afraid of fire and for several reasons. Fire is extremely hot, and wolves have learned that it’s a threat to their survival. Hence, they will stay away from it. They can smell the smoke, as well as hear the flames, from far away.

Wolves have also learned that humans use fire. People have used fire as a tool against wild animals for thousands of years, causing them to learn from previous encounters.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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