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These include the raccoon dog, the bat-eared fox, and the bush dog. Well, the canids with those incredibly distinct eyes tended to be the more social animals, while those with tougher eyes to make out tended to be solo or paired animals. This was also true with regard to hunting practices—group hunters tended to have visually striking eyes and solo hunters did not.

This makes logical sense: Wolves in particular tend to gaze at each other for long periods, an average of 3.

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Wolves also engage in pointing behavior where they stare at something else for a long period—7. Both of those species are known to communicate in other ways, with both acoustic cues and, for African wild dogs, with motions of their white-tipped tails. The researchers suggest this is a good place to start if we want to understand wolf and other canid communication. And of course, maybe some human behavior too: Home Conservation This Week Do wolves communicate with their eyes? It is covered in hundreds of projections called papillae which aid in grooming and with tugging meat from bones.

The tongue is quite thick, but tapers to a thin tip that can be curved into a ladle-like form, making it especially useful for lapping up water.


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It's difficult to know exactly what another animal is able to taste, but it is known that canines have taste receptors that permit them to know the sensations of sweet, salty, bitter, and acidic. Teeth, Fangs, and Jaws A Wolf has 42 teeth: The lower jaw has six incisors, two canines, eight premolars, and six molars. The last premolars on the upper jaw and the first molars on the lower jaw are called the carnassial teeth; specialized for slicing through meat.

The canines may reach a length of 5. Experts have surmised that Wolves are capable of a jaw pressure of up to kilograms per square centimeter 1, pounds per square inch. This is about twice the jaw pressure of a German shepherd. Paws, Legs, and Movement Wolves have long, strong legs and large paws; they are built for speed and agility. The forelegs appear pressed into the Wolf's narrow chest, with the elbow turned inward and the paws turned outward.

This allows the Wolf's fore and hind legs to swing in a strait line so that the hind paw falls into the impression that the front paw left.

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Domestic canines generally leave the hind paw impression next to the forepaw impression. The Build of a Wolf's legs are ideal for fast, agile movement over all types of terrain, even deep snow. And the webbing between their toes makes Wolves excellent swimmers as well. As with other canines, Wolves are digitigrade; meaning they bear their weight on their toes as they walk and not the entire sole of the foot.

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There are four toes on each hind paw, and five toes on each forepaw. However, one of the toes on the forepaw is used for clasping and doesn't touch the ground. Each toe has a calloused pad and a non-retractable claw. Also, each paw has a single large calloused heel pad.

An adult Wolf's forepaw prints measure from about As average gait of a Wolf is between 6.


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Wolves can maintain an average top speed of about 40 kilometers 25 miles per hour over a distance of 3 kilometers 2 miles. A Wolf maintaining a speed of 56 kilometers 35 miles per hour over 6 kilometers 4 miles was reported by a Minnesota game warden in There have been other reports of Wolves running in excess of 56 kilometers 35 miles miles per hour, but these are likely exceptional extremes.

Wolves bound when they are in pursuit of large prey animals. David Mech reported that he witnessed Wolves bounding over 5 meters 16 feet while in pursuit of moose. Wolves can keep up the chase for about twenty minutes, after which they tend to rest or sleep for at least ten to fifteen minutes before resuming activity.

It's not uncommon for a Wolf to travel 32 to 48 kilometers 20 to 30 miles a day while hunting. Where food is scare Wolves have been recorded to have walked kilometers miles searching for food in a single day. Wolves have a great capacity for long journeys. When dispersing from their pack, lone Wolves have been monitored traveling over miles in search of new territory. Anus, Genitals, and Tail A Wolf's anal region not only serves the usual function of defecation, but also plays an important role in communication.

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To the lower left and right of the anal sphincter are the anal scent ducts. The exact purpose of these "scent glands" is uncertain, but it is theorized that they produce a potent scent unique to a given Wolf and are employed in scent marking and in greeting ceremonies for the purpose of establishing the identity and status of a given Wolf. In the communications section you will find more information on the role these glands play in lupine social life.

A Wolf's tail measures from 33 to 51 cm 13 to 20 inches and consists of long fur radiating away from it in all directions, but sloping toward the tip. Most Wolves have a dark spot of fur covering the precaudal scent gland, also called the violet gland, about 10 cm 4 inches from the croup and on the tail's tip. The tail serves to protect the anus and genitals from insect bites as well as a device for communicating with other Wolves. The communications aspect of the Wolf's tail will be delved into in the section dealing with communication. Anal scent glands, located to the left and right and below the anal sphincter, produce a pungent oily pheromone that is excreted during bowel movements, thus scenting the Wolf's scat with his or her unique odor.

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The purpose for this is unknown, but it is believed that the anal scent glands play an important role in the identity of Wolves, for high ranking males often lift their tails during greeting ceremonies, whereby both Wolves sniff each other under their tails, before they accept each other. Submissive males and females of any rank usually do not greet this way, and will tuck their tail to avoid attempts to know them this way.

The exception to this is when the dominant female enters estrus, at which time she will lift her tail to a ranking male, so that he may know she is receptive to mating. Another major scent gland, called the precaudal gland or violet gland, is located near the top of the tail, about 10 cm 4 inches down from the croup. Again the actual purpose of this gland is unknown, but it is believed that the oily bluish pheromone it produces may indicate a Wolf's mood or level of sexual receptivity during mating season.

Height and Weight In general, Gray Wolves measure from 66 to 96 cm 26 to 38 inches at the shoulder, and from to cm 40 to 58 inches from head to the base of their tail. The male genitalia consist of a fur covered scrotum, composed of thin, dark colored skin. The scrotum surrounds the testicles and is designed to keep the testicles several degrees cooler than the Wolf's internal body temperature so that the sperm are not damaged by excessive warmth.

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From the scrotum extending along the lower belly is the prepuce, often called the sheath. The prepuce is a flap of fur covered flesh that sheaths and protects the penis. The penis is a soft fleshy organ which extends from the sheath as it pumps full of blood when the Wolf becomes sexually aroused. The penis contains a bone called the Baculum Bacula OS penis , which aids in penetrating the female's vulva during copulation.

When canines mate the male's erection occurs after penetration, rather then before to achieve penetration as in humans. Toward the base of the penis is the bulbus glandis, also called the knot, which swells into the female's vagina to tie the male and female together during coitus. The knot prevents the mating pair from parting until after insemination has taken place.

In addition to mating function and urination, the penis is also used to scent mark; it is believed that the urine contains a pheromone, or scent, unique to the individual Wolf and that other Wolves smelling this mark can easily identify the Wolf from whom it came from. Out of mating season a male Wolf's testicles tend to shrink, accompanied by the loss of sexual appetite. The female genitalia are mostly internal.

The external labium lips of the vulva occupies approximately the same physical location on the body as the scrotum would on a male.

In the wintertime, when the female enters estrus, the vulva becomes hot and puffy hence the term "in heat". The puffy vulva is also ideally shaped so that the tip of the male's penis can easily hook into its fold to be directed into the vagina during copulation. During copulation the male thrusts his penis into and out of the female's vagina while shifting his weight from one leg to the other in order to work his bulbus glandis into her.