Monday, June 9, 2014

New Season Calls For Wild Hair Days for Wolves

Flowers are blooming, the trees are green, and school is letting out -  all great signs pointing to the arrival of a new season! Although the official start to summer relies upon a date on the calendar, wolves rely on subtle cues from Mother Nature to begin preparations for the summer months.  Ambassador wolves Atka, Alawa, and Zephyr know the season is changing so they're busy shedding their winter coats.

For weeks now their insulating undercoats have been falling from their bodies like sheets of soft wool to allow them to live comfortably during the  dog days of summer.  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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