Sounds That Red Wolves Make And What They Mean

Many wildlife noises fill the air of North America, and the howls of wolves are among the most iconic. Red wolves are perhaps the most endangered canine species in North America, but what are the different sounds that red wolves make, and what do they mean?

Red wolves make a variety of sounds, including barks, whimpers, and growls, but they are perhaps most famous for their howling choruses that you might hear at dusk. Every sound that a red wolf makes has its own meaning and they may be communicating anything from pain to excitement, to alarm.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the vocalizations of red wolves and the other ways that they communicate. Read on to discover whether or not the sounds you are hearing belong to these magnificent, and very rare, creatures.

Are Red Wolves Very Noisy?

Red wolves can make a lot of noise when they want to, but they are not necessarily noisy animals most of the time. They have a lot of different ways of communicating with each other, but they often keep quiet in order to stay unnoticed by potential prey.

You also need to remember that there are not very many red wolves out there to make a large amount of noise. They have been listed as a Critically Endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1996, and their numbers in the wild are still declining. This means that the odds of actually hearing red wolves yourself are pretty slim.

If you are lucky enough to have some nearby, though, red wolves can certainly make themselves heard. As with many species of canine (dog-like mammals), they are known for their long, loud howls, and they can start up a chorus with many wolves howling together.

Sadly, the number of red wolves in America today is incredibly small. There is only one known subpopulation in the wild, consisting of between 20 and 30 individuals, that was reintroduced into North Carolina in 1987. There is even some debate amongst scientists as to whether red wolves are even a distinct species of their own.

What Are The Primary Sounds That Red Wolves Make?

There are obviously many different noises that any animal species can make, so it’s hard to list every single one. When these animals are studied, however, there are certain vocalizations that are considered distinct and recognizable. Let’s take a look at the most common that you might hear from a red wolf.

These are the primary sounds that red wolves are known to make:

  • Flat howls
  • Barking howls
  • Combination howls
  • Yip-howls
  • Whimpers
  • Squeaks
  • Growls
  • Barks

Many of these sounds are incredibly similar to those of other canine species that you might find in North America, like the timber wolf, the coyote, and even some domestic dogs.

Why Do Red Wolves Howl?

Perhaps the most iconic and recognizable sound that any wolf might make is its howl. It is an impressive thing to hear and a majestic reminder of the power of the natural world around us, but why do they do it?

Red wolves, and many other canine species, howl for a wide variety of reasons, but there are two that are the most common. They usually howl to indicate the boundary of their territory or to stay in touch with other members of their pack.

With that being said, there are many other times when a wolf will howl, that are not always connected to either of these two purposes. It’s actually a noise that can have a lot of different meanings.

When Do Red Wolves Howl?

Have you ever wondered whether red wolves really howl at the moon? You might think of pictures on T-shirts or album covers and be under the impression that the full moon is when wolves do the most howling, but there is no scientific evidence to support this idea.

Wolves can howl at any time, day or night, although they tend to howl less frequently in the Spring and early Summer, when their pups are young and vulnerable. Red wolves are also mostly nocturnal, and they tend to be most active around dawn, dusk, and early evening, so they are more likely to get noisy around these times.

Some people might also be surprised to find out that red wolves don’t howl during hunting. Although they might start a howl to bring the pack closer together in preparation for a hunt, or end a hunt with a howl to stop rival wolves from taking their prize, they are generally as quiet while they are out looking for prey.

It makes sense when you think about it – they don’t want to scare off any potential meals!

Does Howling Mean That The Red Wolf Is Sad?

Howling is quite a melancholic sound, so it’s not a stretch to think that this noise could be a cry of sadness. In fact, this is sometimes not too far from the truth. Wolves often howl to signal pain or distress, and they have even been observed howling to lament the loss of a mate.

With that being said, it’s not the most common reason why red wolves howl. More often than not, they are howling as a unifying chorus, to bring the pack together and warn off any potential threats. In that way, howling is usually a more uplifting sound than you might think, as it is a way to keep a family close and safe.

How Loud Can Red Wolves Howl?

Red wolves can howl pretty loudly, but the exact volume does change a lot, depending on the type of howl that it is.

Although they sound very similar to the human ear, there are actually 21 different howl types that a canine might use, and each species tends to favor one more than the others. The howl of a red wolf, for example, may sound like that of a coyote, but it is usually lower in pitch and lasts longer.

In terms of decibels, some grey wolves have been recorded howling at between 90 and 115 dB, which is a sound that is able to cover around 50 square miles of territory.

How Far Away Can You Hear A Red Wolf’s Howl?

You can hear a red wolf’s howl from between 6 and 10 miles away if the air is clear. A red wolf’s howl is designed to travel, which is why it is low in pitch and lasts for a long time.

These animals want to stay in touch across the breadth of their territory, and they want to be heard by potential invaders, so their howls are specialized to be heard from as far away as possible.

Do Red Wolves Respond When Humans Howl?

Wolves howl to each other often, and they do tend to howl in response to the sound of another wolf. It is relatively rare, however, for red wolves to howl back at a human. This is because they are quite shy and fearful of humans in general, and they have a very attuned hearing.

Almost all canines are able to differentiate who, or what might be making a howling sound that they can hear, although many species will howl back anyway. Studies have shown that wolves may respond to a human howl as a way of letting you know that you are encroaching on their territory.

Harrington and Mech, in their study on wolf howling in 1979, found that packs were more likely to respond when they had resources to protect, like a successful hunt or young pups, and groups were much more likely to howl back than solitary individuals.

Do Red Wolves Bark?

Probably the second most-recognizable sound that any wolf makes is their bark, and red wolves are no exception. They can even sound surprisingly similar to domestic dogs at times. Red wolves will bark often, and they even use barks to communicate across reasonably long distances, but they are more of an individual means of communication, rather than part of a spontaneous chorus.

Barks are usually a way for a red wolf to make their presence known, and they can range from relatively playful to quite aggressive. A bark can be a warning, it can be meant to scare off a threat, or it can be a sign of excitement from one wolf to another.

Do Red Wolves Growl?

Growling is another common means of communication for red wolves, and it is usually a more subtle warning noise. Most growls basically mean that you should back off, and they can be directed at other wolves within the pack as well as outside threats.

A red wolf growl doesn’t necessarily mean that they are looking for a fight, in fact, it is often the opposite. Growling is usually a way to avoid confrontation, by warning the threat away before a physical confrontation needs to happen.

Do Red Wolves Whine?

Red wolves will whine, squeak, or whimper as a way to communicate that they are distressed or in pain. This is an important way to make sure that individuals are kept safe by the rest of the pack, and helps to end disputes or playfights before they get too dangerous.

Young red wolves, particularly pups, will whine much more than fully grown adults. As pups, they are very dependent on the attention of their mothers, and they are much more vulnerable at this age. Whining is a way for a wolf pup to say that they need looking after, or they are feeling threatened.

Can Red Wolves Scream?

Red wolves may squeak, howl, or yip, but they don’t really scream. Some canine species, however, do make screaming noises that can seem very similar to those of a human. Smaller canines, like coyotes and foxes, scream when they are fighting or in pain, and it can actually be quite distressing to hear.

Will Red Wolves Make Moaning Noises?

Red wolves don’t really moan either. Moaning sounds are more commonly made by bears, moose, raccoons, and big cats than they are by canines. Sometimes, the end of a howl can sound a bit like a moan, but it’s not really a distinct sound that red wolves make.

What Does An Angry Red Wolf Sound Like?

If a red wolf is angry, then they are more likely to give off a harsh bark or a growl. They will bare their teeth if they are feeling threatened, and the sounds that they make will usually be lower in pitch and more guttural. This is a way for them to show that they can be dangerous and that they should be left alone.

What Sounds Do Red Wolves Makes When They’re Happy?

A happy red wolf is likely to make friendly barking sounds or gentle yips. When they are feeling contented and safe, wolves like to communicate with each other and feel connected, but without giving off a sense of threat or danger.

What Sounds Does A Red Wolf Make When Scared?

A red wolf that is scared will generally whimper, whine, or yelp. These are the sounds that they tend to make when they are nervous, anxious, in pain, or distressed.

Do Red Wolves Have Specific Mating Calls And Sounds?

Sometimes, lone wolves will howl when they are in search of a mate. Red wolves spend most of their time in a family group, or pack, consisting of one mated pair and their offspring. The young children will start to distance themselves once they become adults, and will seek out new mates with which to reproduce.

Howling is one of the many different ways that wolves communicate with each other, but it is particularly useful when they are trying to be heard across long distances. Once they have found their other half, red wolves will mate for life, and they will usually have a new litter of between 5 and 8 pups every year.

The red wolf mating season is in early spring, with most of their pups being born between March and May.

Do Red Wolves Communicate In Other Ways Than Making Sounds?

Sound is just one way that red wolves talk to each other. They actually do the majority of their communication without making any noise at all.

  • Smell: Scent is one of the most important languages in the animal kingdom, particularly among canines. Red wolves will leave scent markings to communicate things like who they are, where their territory is, and where they’ve been.
  • Body Language: Red wolves communicate a lot through their bodies. The way that they stand, sit, lie down, or hold themselves can express anything from contentment to anger to fear or excitement.
  • Facial Expressions: If you’ve ever raised dogs then you know just how expressive a canine’s face can be. Red wolves can communicate a large amount just from the way that they look at each other.

How Can You Tell If You’re Hearing A Red Wolf Or Another Animal?

Red wolves are incredibly similar to other canines that can be found across North America. There are currently different theories about the genetic links between them and the other wolves and coyotes of North America, and some scientific disputes, trying to understand the origins of each individual species.

Unless you are an expert, or you have access to highly sensitive recording equipment, then you are unlikely to be able to distinguish between the sounds of a red wolf from another wolf species (like a grey wolf or a timber wolf). There are, however, some sounds that can definitely let you know that what you are hearing is not a red wolf.

While coyotes are similar to red wolves in many ways, they make a lot of noises that red wolves do not. Red wolves generally make more low-pitched noises overall than their smaller canine cousins. Screaming or laughing sounds, for example, are much more likely to be a coyote or a fox than a red wolf.

One of the most straightforward ways to tell whether you are hearing red wolves or not is to think about where you are. Currently, there are only 20-30 wild red wolves in North America, and they can only be found on North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula. If you’re anywhere else in the country, and there isn’t a captive community nearby, then you’re probably hearing something else.

Can Dogs And Other Canines Understand Red Wolves?

Most canine species can understand each other to some degree, although it’s perhaps not what you would call a “conversation”. The various vocalizations of different canines are all designed to be understood by any animal that could be a potential friend or foe, so dogs, coyotes, and other wolves will recognize when a red wolf tells them to stay away.

What Should You Do If You Hear A Red Wolf?

If you hear a red wolf, you should feel pretty honored. They are considered by many to be the rarest canine species in the world right now, and hearing them in the wild may soon become a thing of the past.

There’s no need to be worried. They are generally not a threat to humans, and they are usually going to be more frightened of you than you are of them. There have actually been no recorded incidents of a red wolf causing a human any harm.