Like humans, many species of animals create and uphold a form of social structures and, in a way, cultivate their own unique cultures. Arguably the most notable among these “social animals” are wolves; the wolf pack dynamics of alpha, beta, omega is something that has intrigued me for a while, and so, after cross-referencing some sites on the subject, I’ve decided to compile my findings on the basic roles wolves can occupy in a pack and spell them out here for you. Just in case you were curious.
As you probably already know, the alphas are the highest-ranking members of a wolf pack. A pack usually only has two alphas, one male and one female, and the most dominant of the two will act as pack leader. Alphas run the show – they decide where and what to hunt, where to set up territories, and are generally the ones that produce offspring. Although subordinate wolves can mate and have pups , they may not always have the resources and freedom to like alphas do. Alphas hold their rankings all their lives, unless they’ve been challenged and defeated by another wolf, regardless of the former’s previous social standing.
Next up are the betas; betas act as the “second-in-command” and are always there to back their alpha up in a fight. Since they are fairly dominant, they act as the enforcers of the pack and are instrumental in hunts; they may choose to challenge an alpha for his title, choose to leave in search of another pack in order to achieve a higher rank, or decide to start a pack of their own.
Omegas have the worst position in the pack. As the lowest-ranking members, they have to be consistently submissive to others, making them easy targets for higher-ranking members to take their aggressions out on. They’re basically the pack chew-toy. The hostility they receive may reach such an extreme point that they decide to leave the pack; becoming a “lone wolf” or seeking out another pack with the hopes that they can slip into a better role that’s higher up on the food chain. Like betas, it’s possible for them to start their own pack as well. Still, omegas have an important part to play. They’re playful nature helps break up the tension within the pack, and although the whole pack helps raise pups, the omegas are the “babysitters”