While denning, wolf breeders dig burrows quite often. At the same time fairly frequently wolf pups may be situated on a coach-den in close proximity to the burrow-dens that were created by their parents, but not inside one of these burrows. An interesting question may be raised. Which mammal species use wolf burrows afterwards? Of course, small insectivores and rodents visit such burrows regularly. There is no any doubt in that. But which bigger mammal species may use former wolf burrow-dens?
First, it may be used by the wolves themselves. Actually that happened not often. Being discovered 75 wolf dens with pups, I have never found pups twice in the same burrow-den as well as in the same den of the other kinds. Nevertheless, it was quite common that wolf breeders used to situate their pups in burrow-dens that were created by wolves in the previous years. Second, badgers habituated to occupy former wolf burrows. The same may be said about other burrowing medium-sized carnivores i.e. the red fox and raccoon dog. Usually badgers and red foxes markedly deepen wolf burrows. Third, lynx is one of the main user of former wolf burrows. All of these species i.e. badgers, red foxes, raccoon dogs and lynxes used former wolf burrows for breeding and sheltered resting. Forth, pine martens and hairs visit former wolf burrows for sheltered resting, particularly when the weather is rainy or frosty as well as when there are too many mosquitos.
Six documented such examples of usage of former wolf burrows by mammals are presented below. The camera-trapping was carried in collaboration with Irina Rotenko (Naust Ecostation), Wild Naliboki team (first of all, Jan Gouwy and Sanne Van Den Berge), Maximilian Hetzer, Jean Claude Genot and Annick Schnitzler.
In this case wolf breeders created burrow-den having three entrances and placed four pups therein. During the next years either badgers or red foxes used it to situate cubs as well as both species visited the burrow for sheltered resting.
In this case wolf breeders enlarged a small red fox burrow, and they placed their pups in the burrow for a day. During the next year female lynx gave birth and kept the kittens for 5-10 days in the burrow. Lynxes, badgers, red foxes and pine martens visited the burrow to get a sheltered rest. Several times during winter lynx mothers left temporarily their kittens in this sheltered site. Also, lynxes used the burrow entrance as a marking point.
In this case wolf breeders dug burrow, but they placed their pups 100-300 meters away on open coach-dens. Two brown bears (mating couple) extirpated the wolf pups. In a week raccoon dog breeders occupied the wolf burrow for their denning. The raccoon dog family with eight cubs minimally stayed there for about a month. Then badger couple send them away and occupied the wolf burrow. Moreover, the badgers killed at least one of the raccoon dog cubs.
In this case wolf breeders enlarged a small red fox burrow, but they placed their pups 240 meters away in the small spruce thicket in a cavity den. During the same year and the next years lynxes, badgers, red foxes and pine martens visited the burrow to get a sheltered rest. Also, lynxes used the burrow entrance as a marking point.
This former wolf burrow was used by badgers as outlier 5-12 times per a month. Also, pine martens and mountain hares rested in the burrow frequently.
This wolf burrow-den after killing of the wolf pups by lynx was visited by badgers, and raccoon dog family used the wolf burrow during the same summer afterwards.