Wolves Rely On Some Stinky Activities For Survival
Wolf rolling on dead ungulate
- Urine: Wolves mark with urine frequently along the edges of their territory, creating what David Mech and Luigi Boitani call an "olfactory bowl." They mark more often when other wolves or coyotes intrude into their territory. Wolves raise their leg when urinating, possibly to give the urine more chance to be found. The height of the urine may also send a message about the stature of the animal leaving it. Only dominant male and female wolves mark with urine. Males mark more often than females.
- Feces: Wolves also mark territory with their feces. They may leave feces on conspicuous objects and along trails and roads, often at junctions.
- Saliva: A male can obtain information about a female's reproductive state by licking the saliva on a female's muzzle.
- Anal sacs: Because anal sacs are surrounded by muscles that a wolf can control, a wolf can secrete on command. "The common greeting position, in which two individuals stand head to tail, suggests an interest in anal sac odors," say Harrington and Asa. The dominant wolf holds its tail away from the body, revealing the anal sac area. The subordinate animal holds its tail close.
- Feet: Wolves have sweat glands in the webs of their paws that leave a scent when a wolf scratches the ground.
- Skin glands: Wolves leave "distinctive odor fingerprints" that other wolves recognize.
- Back and tail: Wolves have glands in these areas that may produce scents that reveal a wolf's emotional state.
- Vagina: The vagina and uterus secrete odors that play a part in reproductive communication.