Communication and Perception
Most carnivorans have acute senses. Vision and hearing are excellent in many, often far surpassing the capabilities of humans. Domestic cats and other carnivores that hunt small rodents can hear ultrasounds emitted by their prey. Most carnivorans come equipped with tactile hairs (vibrissae) on the face and legs, which they use to feel their way through narrow, dark surroundings. The sense of smell is often remarkable. Carnivorans make extensive use of chemical signals excreted in urine and feces and produced by glands in the skin and anal region. They use these chemical signals for scent-marking territories and for conveying information about identity, social status, and reproductive status. Carnivorans also communicate acoustically with a variety of yips, howls, barks, growls, roars, and purrs. These sounds have various functions, including strengthing social bonds, advertising for mates, defending territories, and communicating alarm, distress, and contentment. Social carnivores such as lions sometimes erupt into choruses of loud roars as a means of calling one another to assemble. Visual signals, mainly in the form of body posturing, are also used by carnivorans to communicate, and tactile signals, as when a wolf licks and bites the muzzle of a dominant individual to show submission, are used as well.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: choruses ; pheromones ; scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic ; ultrasound
- Gorman, M., B. Trowbridge. 1989. The role of odor in the social lives of carnivores. Pp. 57-88 in J Gittleman, ed. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution, vol. 1. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Peters, G., W. Wozencraft. 1989. Acoustic communication by fissiped carnivores. Pp. 14-56 in J Gittleman, ed. Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution, vol. 1. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
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