Wolves in Yellowstone National Park have been caught on trail camera bringing toys back home for their pups.
Although wolves are fearsome predators, it is difficult for hearts not to melt at the sight of the gray wolf trotting along with bones and antlers in its mouth for its young cubs to play with.
The footage was shared by Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday which speculated as to why the wolf was bringing the toys back.
“This spring, Yellowstone biologists documented adult wolves from the Mollie’s Pack traveling back to their den with some interesting items,” writes Yellowstone on Facebook.
“Pups await food deliveries from successful hunts, but in the absence of food adults bring ‘toys.’ The instinct to bring items back to the den may be reinforced by evolution, and probably helps keep adults from being mobbed by sharp puppy teeth.”
Anyone who has ever had a teething puppy that attempts to bite and chew on anything and everything, including a human, can understand why this wolf is attempting to stave off the eager mouths.
“Yellowstone wolf packs typically have one litter of four to five pups each year,” explains Yellowstone National Park.
“By late October, pups are two-thirds of their adult size and start traveling with the pack. Pups that survive the winter have learned to help the pack hunt large prey like elk and bison and will help raise the pack’s next litter of pups—delivering food, and sometimes toys.”
As noted on the National Park Service website, gray wolves are highly social animals that live in complex social structures. Typically, there is an alpha male and alpha female who live with subordinates who each have personality traits and roles within the pack.
Packs defend their territories by holding and scent-marking with urine. They will also hunt large prey together such as elk and can attack much larger animals than other predators, including bison.
Recently, PetaPixel reported on a photographer in Yellowstone who was looking for wolves and bison. But he got a huge surprise when a black bear, which he was not paying attention, to crept up on him — he dubbed the bear a “ninja.”