Girls rule

The pack is led by an alpha female and an alpha male. The alpha female is the only animal to give birth, and she also makes all the decisions about the pack’s day-to-day life: when and where to hunt, where to den, etc. This is Tammy … alpha female and boss of the Nyakasanga pack.

A packed life

Painted wolves live in a pack, led by an alpha female. Pack size ranges from just two to over 30, but somewhere in the range of ten is most common. Packs usually need at least four to six members to successfully raise their pups. Same-sex groups disperse from their natal pack around the age of two, and hopefully meet up with another dispersal group (of the opposite sex!) to form a new pack.

Early to rise, late to bed

Painted wolves are active early in the morning and late in the afternoon, sometimes into the night especially on moonlit nights. The rest of their days and nights are spent sleeping somewhere cool.


This hugely social species spends a large amount of time playing, especially with the pups, who seem to take a long time to grow up!

Caring creatures

When one of the pack is ill or injured, the painted wolves rally around to care for the sick animal, regurgitating meat after a hunt, or even licking the wound to keep it clean.

Extended family

While painted wolves often find themselves in conflict with other species such as hyena and lion, they have established a symbiotic alliance with vultures. Vultures are often found around the painted wolf den and serve an essential clean-up service gorging on puppy poo.


This hugely social animal has a complex communication system, involving calls (barks, twittering and hoo-calls), body language and dancing, and even their white tails, which many think are important communication markers during the hunt.