View Full Version : Do wolves react to blood?

09-16-2011, 11:02 PM

I'm writing a scene with a wolf attack. A man gets bitten by a wolf and it draws blood. I'm wondering if the sight or smell of the blood would induce a frenzy or increase aggression? Or would the wolves not care? Since they are already in hunt/attack mode would first blood make a difference?

Any insight would be very helpful. Thank you.

09-16-2011, 11:23 PM
All predators/scavengers will investigate the scent of blood. A predilection for increased aggression or frenzy will depend upon the species and environmental circumstances (stress, scarcity of prey, competition, etc.).

Wolves, as pack animals, are well structured and very intelligent; attacks are planned and executed with surprising skill (although not always successfully). Aggression may be high, but there is little if any evidence of "frenzy". Feeding after the kill is firmly structured, following a descending order of the pack hierarchy.

The term "frenzy" brings to mind sharks and piranha, in contrast to wolves.

09-17-2011, 12:10 AM
A feeding frenzy really isn't a wolf thing. They're cautious, patient and intelligent.

It takes a lot for them to attack a person in the first place, because they know humans are dangerous. But supposing they did, they're going to go about it carefully. A bite that isn't a killing bite implies they're testing his strength. They'll keep launching small attacks until it's clear he's weak enough to take down. They won't throw out tactics just because they smell blood.

09-17-2011, 09:53 PM
I see that I was thinking about this wrong. I was thinking of them as "wild", uncontrolled animals and not the inteligent creatures they are.

Thank you guys for your responses. Very helpful.

09-17-2011, 10:17 PM
I was thinking of them as "wild", uncontrolled animals and not the inteligent creatures they are.

A lot of people, unfortunately, have that misconception about wolves.

09-18-2011, 02:22 AM
I'm no expert, but I'm fairly certain that blood does have a big effect on wolves and wild dogs, etc. Having said that, I strongly agree with everyone above about this particular situation.

If a wolf were just merrily trotting along and came across a bloody animal (or blood?), that's where it might have an effect more like you are thinking. Reacting to blood in an otherwise relaxed or playful situation is where instinct can cause an abrupt change in behavior, imho.

I've seen tame dogs act very cruel and aggressive toward a known dog with a wound. It's very disturbing to me, actually! It's that instinct that does it.

09-18-2011, 03:08 PM
Dogs do get excited by the smell of blood and will investigate (we know this thanks to figuring out the reason why our dog got unduly fractious once a month - he was responding to the smell of menstrual blood) but I agree that wolves won't necessarily act on this. They have been conditioned by the pack structure to respond only when appropriate.

They could certainly follow the scent of blood over miles and miles of wilderness (so you may get more wolves and other predators coming to the scene) but they can follow pretty much any scent over miles of terrain anyway so it may not make that much different. They can smell the difference in your sweat if you are afraid, for example (again, this is why dogs react badly when you are afraid - you are their pack leader, if you are afraid then they are too and they can smell your fear).

09-20-2011, 03:38 PM
You might want to take a look at the documentary, Living With Wolves. It came out several years ago so you might have to order it. Basically, a photographer/naturalist spent the better part of a year or so living inside a compound he had set up to monitor a pack of wolves in their 'natural' state. (The compound was pretty large.) Very interesting.