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How & Where Do Wolves Sleep?

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Wolves sleep both in enclosed spaces and dens, such as under rock formations, as well as out in the open. They sleep during the day, as they’re nocturnal creatures.

Wolves sleep in a variety of ways. They can either lay down and curl up, or they can stretch out on their side. 

The entire pack will usually be sleeping together in their den.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at wolves sleeping patterns, how long they sleep, and more.

How Do Wolves Sleep?

Wolves are nocturnal animals, which means that they sleep during the day and stay awake at night. They’ll sleep underneath shelter if available, or simply out in the open. 

Wolves don’t like being cooped up in any one place for too long so it is rare to find them staying in a particular spot for long periods.

Their sleeping position also varies depending on whether they’re young pups or adults. 

  • Adult wolves typically curl into tight balls when sleeping but may also stretch out if there’s enough room available. 
  • Young pups take an approach much closer to how domesticated dogs act; they’ll curl up next to their mother, as this will keep them warm and safe.

Regardless of age, wolves will always choose a secluded location where no one’s likely to disturb them. This can be in the middle of dense foliage or at the base of a tree with its back against it. As long as they have some shelter that doesn’t obstruct their view. 

wolf sleeping

Wolves are pack animals with close social bonds. They like staying close together as this helps keep everyone warm throughout the cold winter months.

Wolves may also use their tail as a blanket.

How Long Do Wolves Need to Sleep?

Wolves will sleep between 4 to 10 hours a day. The needed sleep depends on the age of the wolf is and their activity during the previous night. 

Wolves that are less than four months old need to get between fourteen and eighteen hours of sleep every day due to their rapid development in this stage of life.

One study suggests that wolves sleep, on average, 30% of the time, meaning around 7-8 hours a day.

They may also rest more during the winter months. 

During this period of restricted activity, their metabolism slows down significantly to help them survive on less food than usual. 

wolves sleep and rest during the day

This type of hibernation is typically seen in wolves that live in colder climates or areas where food may be limited due to a lack of prey availability. Other reasons such as hunting competition with other predators may also affect sleep.

During the summer months when there’s plenty of prey available, wolves can stay active for longer periods. With more food, there is less need to conserve energy.

Related: Do wolves hibernate?

Intermittent Sleeping

Wolves have very unique sleeping patterns which consist of intermittent resting throughout the day and night.

Typically, wolves will rest multiple times a day for anywhere between 20 minutes and a couple of hours.

wolf sleeping alone

They Can Use Their Tail for Insulation

Wolves can use their tail as a blanket. The extra coat and hair from their tail can provide insulation for them at night. This is especially useful during the winter months.

Do Wolves Sleep Together?

Wolves often sleep together in a pack. Wolf packs are one big family, and they’re very protective of each other, also while sleeping.

Sleeping in a pack also makes for better heat conservation during cold winter months.

This behavior or sleeping together in a pile is called social thermoregulation and is seen in many animals species across the planet. It’s more frequent in colder climates.

As wolves make use of intermittent resting, there’s usually one or more wolves awake to stand guard. This is done to avoid any predators sneaking up on the sleeping pack.

One Wolf Will Stand Guard

One wolf will stand guard while the others sleep, sometimes on top of a rock or a fallen log. This guard wolf will keep an eye out for intruders, other predators looking to either take over their territory or look to take out the competition.

If any predators do come by while the pack is sleeping, the guard wolf will alarm the others. This is done by barking, growling, and other vocalization.

How Much Do Wolves Sleep?

The average wolf sleeps between 4 to 10 hours a night, with an average of 7 to 8 hours. Wolf pups need more sleep, just like puppies or human babies. These will likely sleep for more than 14 hours a day.

When a wolf is more active during hunting for food and other activities, they will need more rest.

Wolves also tend to have multiple short naps throughout the day rather than just one big nap at night.

Where Do Wolves Sleep?

Some claim that wolves sleep in their dens, or other enclosed spaces, while others claim that wolves sleep outside all year round. 

Common places for wolves to rest are next to trees that provide shelter, or under rock formations with a similar purpose.

wolf pack with alpha howling

Do Wolves Sleep During the Day?

Yes, wolves sleep mainly during the day, as they are actively hunting at night. 

Wolves are nocturnal and crepuscular creatures, meaning they’re active at night, and resting during the day.

They’ve developed this activity and sleeping pattern mainly for two reasons:

  1. The prey they hunt is mostly active at night, dusk, or dawn.
  2. They want to avoid other predators (such as humans), who’ll often have a diurnal tendency (active during the day).

What Do Wolves Do at Night?

Wolves are nocturnal animals, meaning that they do most of their hunting and exploring at night. 

This means that wolves will often prey on ungulate, or smaller animals, at night. 

Wolves also mate or travel during the night, when they’re less likely to be seen. They’ve developed heightened hearing and smell, which is useful for tracking when there isn’t much light.

Wolves do however also have great night vision, which helps them spot movement and prey during the night.

Related: Are wolves nocturnal?

wolf hunting at night

Conclusion

Wolves sleep in open spaces or enclosed spaces, depending on what’s available to them. They sleep together in the pack, while one or more wolves will stand guard.

Wolves sleep during the day, as they hunt during the night. Depending on their level of activity, they may sleep between 4-10 hours during the day, often in smaller intervals (intermittent resting).

FAQs

Do Wolves Sleep in a Den?

Wolf dens are mainly used for birthing, but may also be used for sleeping. Wolves will often seek shelter when sleeping, whether it be their den, under rocks, or underneath trees.

Do Wolves Sleep Outside?

Wolves to sleep outside at times. If they’re feeling safe and secure, they don’t mind sleeping out in the open.

Do Wolves Sleep in a Pile?

Wolves sleep in a pile. They curl up together to stay warm and conserve heat through their proximity. This behavior is called social thermoregulation. Wolves do this to keep each other warm when it is cold out.

Do Wolves Sleep in Caves?

Yes, wolves may very well sleep in caves. Before settling down for a rest, wolves will scout the optimal sleeping space, whether it be a cave, or out in the open. They look for the most secure space, where they won’t be bothered, disturbed, or attacked.

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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