Can Wolves Climb Trees? When, Why, and How High? the Answer!

When we think of animals that climb, we think of them scuttling head-first up a tree, using limbs to wrap around branches, or nails to dig into the bark as they hoist themselves skyward.

So, have you ever wondered if Wolves can climb trees? Usually, this is in response to asking how one might escape from a wolf … or wolves. In this article we’re going to give you the definitive answer on if wolves can climb trees, and if so, then how, when, why – and answers to all your other wolf climbing tree questions!

Can wolves Climb trees? A Wolf does not have the physical capacity to climb trees. Wolves can reach lower branches by standing on their powerful hind legs and utilizing their body length and strength to jump, gaining access to a tree’s lower limbs. The height of this is determined by the size and reach of the wolf

Perhaps if there were a broken limb leaning against the tree the wolf could use that to gain additional height.

Wolves are relatively agile and can jump from platform to platform, or scale steep rock faces, but they simply aren’t climbers.

Not like the gray fox – not a wolf but another member of the canid family who favors arboreal spots to escape from predators or if in search of food.

These canids are adapted for climbing with hooked claws and can shimmy straight up a branchless tree trunk with ease.

The same, however, does not apply to the wolf. So why is that?…

can wolves climb trees
can wolves climb trees?

Why don’t wolves climb trees?

The answer lies in the fact that they’re body form has not genetically adapted to climb trees, as they didn’t need to…

Being an apex predator, wolves have little need to hide from other predators, there are only a few predators that will hunt a wolf. So, they have little need to seek out a tree for safety, unlike its distant relative – the gray fox.

A wolf’s prey consists largely of ungulates (hoofed animals) such as deer, elk, moose, bison or caribou – depending on where the wolf lives.

These prey animals are land-based and the wolf has adapted to hunt them in a surprise attack, or speed chase across the landscape – no trees involved.

Wolf anatomy for climbing


Also, the wolf has no opposable thumbs or retractable claws that would give it the purchase it needs on tree trunks.

Instead, its paws are wide and flat, better used for traveling on terra-firma.

Its lean body and long limbs are much better suited for reaching top speeds when in hot pursuit of its prey, or traveling long distances, than heady heights.

There’s also the fact that wolves have quite a large build. Depending on the species, age or sex, a wolf’s body weight can range from 50 to 110 pounds.

Combine this with the fact that they can grow up to 5.5 feet long and it soon becomes apparent that the wolf’s larger stature was not made for climbing trees.

So, I guess that poses the question;

Should I climb a tree to avoid a wolf attack?

Wolves rarely attack humans, But, if you ever find yourself in the unlucky (and unlikely) position of being subjected to a wolf attack then provided the tree is tall enough, and you can climb high enough. And provided there are no particularly low branches or items leaning against the tree that would give the wolf easy access, then in theory – yes you can escape a wolf attack.

So, to avoid a wolf attack, here are some helpful points…

  • Climb as high as possible into the tree
  • Make sure the tree is strong enough not to be brought down
  • Secure yourself to the tree to avoid falling
  • Ensure there are no low hanging branches beneath you
  • Pick a tree without any leaning objects
  • Avoid a tree next to a structure that has access such as a roof or cliff
  • Hope that you have enough supplies till help arrives
  • Use flares or other methods to attract help
  • Wolves fear fire, use fire to escape where possible

Although, you might find yourself there for quite some time while waiting for the perfect moment to come down.

If at all possible, it would probably be a safer bet to try and avoid being alone and in the vicinity of wolves in the first place!

Here are 20 Quick Facts About Wolves

Learning resources

We’ve found the ideal resources to continue your learning at home and at school on amazon. Help support our efforts for wildlife causes and keep this site working for nature.

The Hidden Life of Wolves

Want to learn more about wolves in general? Increase your knowledge about wolves and get educated further with these fascinating books on Amazon.

Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

Video Resources

To close…

Wolf attacks on humans are indeed possible – but rare. Trees may seem like a safe place if attacked and it would offer some respite. You just have to hope it buys you enough time, and those wolves could wait for you for quite a while.

We hope this has been useful in understanding if wolves can climb trees, and what your options are in the event you’re cornered by Wolves.

This content has been checked and verified by a qualified veterinary practitioner. The article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.


A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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