Communication and Perception
Ovibos moschatus has very interesting vocal abilities. Calves, when communicating with cows or each other, bleat. The pitch of the bleat lowers with maturity. Adults have deeper voices that sound closer to roars and rumbles that can be heard long distances. Adults also grunt and snort at each other, at calves, and at other animals. Pushing and shoving, as well as chasing and stomping, are used to communicate dominance. (Gray, 1990; Groves, 1997; Rowell, 1990)
Much of the non-vocal communication among muskoxen occurs during the breeding season when males compete for dominance and breeding rights. Males have very strong-smelling urine and urinate on their front legs and dribble urine during displays as warnings to competitors. They will also use a gland near each eye to mark objects by rubbing their faces against the item to be marked. Bulls also swing their heads, walk sideways, and horn the ground to gather chunks of earth to make themselves look larger. (Gray, 1990; Groves, 1997; Rowell, 1990)
- Groves, P. 1997. Muskox. Alaska Geographic, 23/4: 56-86.