Wolves howl alone or together for a variety of reasons. To notify other Wolves of their whereabouts; such as when they wish to attract a mate, rally the pack together for the hunt, when distressed, during or after playing and other social interactions, and often just for the fun of it. Howling sessions among multiple Wolves generally begin as a series of short yaps, then howls that last from less than a second to longer than ten seconds. During the howl the voice may maintain a single tonal quality or cascade from high down to low and then back up to high. Group howls can take on a truly frenzied quality, and two or three howling Wolves can sound like a dozen or more. Larger Wolves tend to have a lower sounding howl. A Wolf's howl can be heard for up to ten miles under optimal conditions. Wolves can howl while standing, sitting, or laying down. Wolves do not howl at the moon as so many people like to romanticize, studies have shown no correlation to Wolves howling and lunar phase; Wolves just love to howl, period.
Body language pays an important role in lupine communications also. Wolves have a very complex series of expressions and postures they use to communicate to each other. The most obvious somatic communication involve the face and the tail. The posture of the ears, eyes, mouth, and tail communicate a lot about a Wolf's mood and intentions:
Happy: ears in a neutral or slightly laid back posture, forehead smooth with brows slightly raised, eyes relaxed or wide, muzzle relaxed, jaw dropped, may be panting, pelt relaxed or slightly bristled, tail in a neutral low swayed-back position or somewhat lifted and wagging.
Neutral: ears raised or foreword, forehead and brows relaxed, eyes relaxed, muzzle relaxed, mouth closed or slightly agape, may be panting in warm weather, pelt relaxed, tail carried low, may be straight out or raised in a dominant Wolf.
Depressed: ears are down or back, forehead may be furrowed, eyes are downcast, muzzle is neutral, lips seem to hang down, pelt is neutral, tail hangs straight down or my slightly curve along the outside of a hip.
Anxious: ears lay flat but outward, forehead is furrowed, eyes are somewhat slit-like and peering, muzzle twitches and lips are pulled back, but not so much that fangs are bared, pelt may be slightly bristled, and tail can take several postures, depending an the nature of anxiety: Up, notched to the side, and somewhat flicking is an imposing attitude; lowered and somewhat notched to the side is often observed while eating; straight down and notched when between uncertain.
Uncertain: ears lay flat, outward and forward, forehead shows definite furrowing with raised brows, eyes are angry and slit-like, muzzle is furrowed and nose is pulled back and puckered, fangs are bared with tongue stuck out between incisors, pelt is bristled, hackles raised, tail is lowered, sometimes tucked. This posture is one of both defense and submissiveness... the Wolf has not decided on fight or flight and is confused.
Threatened/Angry: ears raised and forward, forehead furrowed, eyes wide, wild, and angry, muzzle furrowed with lips lifted high and nose puckered, fangs and even teeth are barred, tongue is tucked back and mostly out of sight, pelt is bristled, hackles are raised, stance is somewhat crouched and ready to leap, tail is straight out or raised, notched or hooked in appearance, with the tip often twitching to one side. All of this Wolf's attention is bearing down on the target and he or she waits only for an opportunity to lunge.
Wolves make continual use of their superior sense of smell; even when communicating amongst themselves. There are scent glands on their cheeks, behind their ears, on their hind paws, the top of their tail, and on their anus. Their scat and especially their urine act as olfactory signals to other Wolves. These bodily scents indicate personal identity, health, mood, and even sexual arousal to members of their pack and other canines abroad.
Wolves have a ritualized greeting where they meet and sniff each other's muzzle, genitals, tail, and anus. This greeting confers a great deal of information about one Wolf to another... much more then mere sight alone. The odors that a Wolf has rubbed against or rolled in also tell others where a he or she has been and doing. The sense of smell also plays a very important role in courtship and pre-coitus arousal.
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