Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Season Calls For a Wardrobe Change for Wolves


Time to reset your clocks...  It going to be a beautiful, mild, and LONG day today and no doubt many of us will have a major case of "Spring Fever!" Although all signs point to the arrival of a new season, the official start to spring relies not upon the a calendar date, but a subtle cue from Mother Nature's beasts.  Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, and Zephyr have indicated that seasons are changing - they're beginning (just barely) to shed their winter coats.


A sample of the insulating undercoat
Soon their insulating undercoat will begin to fall from their bodies like sheets of soft wool and they'll be better prepared to enjoy for the warmer months to come.  What triggers the shedding process?   This time of year both male an female wolves have rising levels of a hormone called prolactin.  Prolactin levels increase with the onset of long days and during the short days of winter the hormone levels decrease.  It is believed that prolactin has many key roles.  High levels of the hormone contribute to the following:

1) Development of the mammary gland for expectant wolf mothers
2) Maintenance of lactation - helps milk production in wolf mothers
3) Promotion of parental behavior in both males and females and thus enhances pup survival
4) Shedding of the undercoat!

So longer days alter the chemical makeup of wolves and help ensure that they spend the spring and summer months in comfort with their happy healthy packs.

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