Scent gland

Scent glands are exocrine glands found in most mammals. They produce semi-viscous secretions which contain pheromones and other semiochemical compounds. These odor-messengers indicate information such as status, territorial marking, mood, and sexual power. The odor may be subliminal—not consciously detectable.[1][2] Though it is not their primary function, the salivary glands may also function as scent glands in some animals.

Scent gland
Organum metatarsale-deer
The arrow is pointing to the metatarsal gland of a Sika deer
Latinglandula odorifera
Anatomical terminology

In even-toed ungulates

The even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla) have many specialized skin glands, the secretions of which are involved in semiochemical communication.[2] These glands include the sudoriferous glands (located on the forehead, between the antlers and eyes), the preorbital glands (extending from the medial canthus of each eye), the nasal glands (located inside the nostrils), the interdigital glands (located between the toes), the preputial gland (located inside the foreskin of the penis), the metatarsal glands (located outside of the hind legs), the tarsal glands (located inside of the hind legs),[3] and the inguinal glands in the lower belly or groin area.[4]

Like many other species of Artiodactyla, deer have seven major external scent glands distributed throughout their bodies.[3] Deer rely heavily on these scent glands to communicate with other members of their species, and possibly even with members of other species. For example, male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are often seen working over a scrape. First, the animal scrapes at the dirt with its hooves, depositing the scent from his interdigital gland on the ground. After that, he may bite the tip off an overhanging branch, depositing secretions from his salivary glands onto the branch. He may then rub his face on the overhanging branch, depositing secretions from the sudoriferous and preorbital glands on it.[5]

The tarsal gland appears to operate by a different mechanism than the other external scent glands. A behavior called rub-urination is central to this mechanism. During rub-urination, the animal squats while urinating so that urine will run down the insides of its legs and onto its tarsal glands. The tarsal glands have a tuft of hair which is specially adapted to extract certain chemical compounds from the animal's urine. For example, in the black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus), the major constituent of the tarsal gland secretion is a lipid, (Z)-6-dodecen-4-olide. This compound does not originate in the tarsal gland itself, but rather it is extracted from the animal’s urine by the tarsal hair tuft during the rub-urination process. In white-tailed deer, the presence and concentration of certain chemical compounds in the urine depend on the season, gender, reproductive status and social rank of the animals. This fact, along with the observation of rub-urination behavior in this animal (at least in the male) indicates that urine probably plays a role in olfactory communication in deer.[2]

In carnivorans

The fossa has several scent glands. Like herpestids it has a perianal skin gland inside an anal sac which surrounds the anus like a pocket. The pocket opens to the exterior with a horizontal slit below the tail. Other glands are located near the penis or vagina, with the penile glands emitting a strong odor. Like the herpestids, it has no prescrotal glands.[6]

In other animals

See also


  1. ^ Albone, ES (1984). "Scent glands". Mammalian semiochemistry: the investigation of chemical signals between mammals. New York: John Wiley and Sons. pp. 74–134. ISBN 978-0471102533.
  2. ^ a b c Burger, BV (2005). "Mammalian semiochemicals" (PDF). In Schulz, S (ed.). The chemistry of pheromones and other semiochemicals II. Topics in current chemistry. 240. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 231–78. doi:10.1007/b98318. ISBN 978-3-540-21308-6. ISSN 0340-1022.
  3. ^ a b Nickens, TE (2009-11-05). "Understanding seven deer glands". Field & Stream Online. New York: Field & Stream. Retrieved 2012-05-27.
  4. ^ Schulz, Stefan (2005-01-07). The Chemistry of Pheromones and Other Semiochemicals II. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 254. ISBN 9783540213086.
  5. ^ "Understanding deer glands". Huntley, Illinois: Hunting Network, LLC. 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  6. ^ Köhncke, M.; Leonhardt, K. (1986). "Cryptoprocta ferox" (PDF). Mammalian Species (254): 1–5. doi:10.2307/3503919. JSTOR 3503919. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  7. ^ Wolf and Johnson; Johnson, Martha F. (1979). "Scent Marking in Taiga Voles (Microtus xanthognathus)". Journal of Mammalogy. 60 (2): 400–04. doi:10.2307/1379814. ISSN 0022-2372. JSTOR 1379814.
  8. ^ a b L. David Mech; Luigi Boitani (1 October 2010). Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-51698-1.
  9. ^ Dyce, KM; Sack, WO; Wensing, CJG (1987). Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy. W.B. Saunders Company. ISBN 978-0-7216-1332-1.
  10. ^ Kenyon, KW (1969). The Sea Otter in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife.
  11. ^ Ford, LS; Hoffman, RS (1988). "Potos flavus". Mammalian Species. 321 (321): 1–9. doi:10.2307/3504086. JSTOR 3504086.
  12. ^ R. F. Ewer (1973). The Carnivores. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8493-3.
  13. ^ Beauchamp, Gary K. "The perineal scent gland and social dominance in the male guinea pig." Physiology & behavior 13.5 (1974): 669-673.
  14. ^ Roze, U., et al. "Microanatomy and bacterial flora of the perineal glands of the North American porcupine." Canadian Journal of Zoology 88.1 (2009): 59-68.

Agonoscelis is a genus of stink bugs that are native to the Afrotropics and Australia, but one species is established in the New World. Some species are minor or considerable pests.They have five nymphal stages, and are 8 to 12 mm long as adults. They attack (or control) weeds and herbs including horehound, thyme, flax and cotton, or the developing seeds of sunflowers or cereals like millet or sorghum. They may swarm on a variety of other shrubs and trees, including coffee and cacao. The scent gland is located at the end of the abdomen.

Anal gland

The anal glands or anal sacs are small glands near the anus in many mammals, including dogs and cats. They are paired sacs on either side of the anus between the external and internal sphincter muscles. Sebaceous glands within the lining secrete a liquid that is used for identification of members within a species. These sacs are found in many carnivorans, including wolves, bears, sea otters and kinkajous.

Bengal slow loris

The Bengal slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) or northern slow loris is a strepsirrhine primate and a species of slow loris native to the Indian subcontinent and Indochina. Its geographic range is larger than that of any other slow loris species. Considered a subspecies of the Sunda slow loris (N. coucang) until 2001, phylogenetic analysis suggests that the Bengal slow loris is most closely related to the Sunda slow loris. However, some individuals in both species have mitochondrial DNA sequences that resemble those of the other species, due to introgressive hybridization. It is the largest species of slow loris, measuring 26 to 38 cm (10 to 15 in) from head to tail and weighing between 1 and 2.1 kg (2.2 and 4.6 lb). Like other slow lorises, it has a wet nose (rhinarium), a round head, flat face, large eyes, small ears, a vestigial tail, and dense, woolly fur. The toxin it secretes from its brachial gland (a scent gland in its arm) differs chemically from that of other slow loris species and may be used to communicate information about sex, age, health, and social status.

The Bengal slow loris is nocturnal and arboreal, occurring in both evergreen and deciduous forests. It prefers rainforests with dense canopies, and its presence in its native habitat indicates a healthy ecosystem. It is a seed disperser and pollinator, as well as a prey item for carnivores. Its diet primarily consists of fruit, but also includes insects, tree gum, snails, and small vertebrates. In winter, it relies on plant exudates, such as sap and tree gum. The species lives in small family groups, marks its territory with urine, and sleeps during the day by curling up in dense vegetation or in tree holes. It is a seasonal breeder, reproducing once every 12–18 months and usually giving birth to a single offspring. For the first three months, mothers carry their offspring, which reach sexual maturity at around 20 months. The Bengal slow loris can live up to 20 years.

The species is listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List, and is threatened with extinction due to a growing demand in the exotic pet trade and traditional medicine. It is one of the most common animals sold in local animal markets. In traditional medicine, it is primarily used by wealthy to middle-class, urban women following childbirth, but also to treat stomach problems, broken bones, and sexually transmitted diseases. It is also hunted for food and suffers from habitat loss. Wild populations have declined severely, and it is locally extinct in several regions. It is found within many protected areas throughout its range, but this does not protect them from rampant poaching and illegal logging. Critical conservation issues for this species include enhancing protection measures, stricter enforcement of wildlife protection laws, and increased connectivity between fragmented protected areas.


A carapace is a dorsal (upper) section of the exoskeleton or shell in a number of animal groups, including arthropods, such as crustaceans and arachnids, as well as vertebrates, such as turtles and tortoises. In turtles and tortoises, the underside is called the plastron.

Coreus marginatus

Coreus marginatus is a herbivorous species of True Bug in the family Coreidae. It is commonly known as the dock bug as it feeds on the leaves and seeds of docks and sorrels. It is a medium-sized speckled brown insect, between 13 and 15 mm long as an adult, with a broad abdomen. It occurs throughout Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It is often found in dense vegetation, such as hedgerows and wasteland.

Fork-marked lemur

Fork-marked lemurs or fork-crowned lemurs are strepsirrhine primates; the four species comprise the genus Phaner. Like all lemurs, they are native to Madagascar, where they are found only in the west, north, and east sides of the island. They are named for the two black stripes which run up from the eyes, converge on the top of the head, and run down the back as a single black stripe. They were originally placed in the genus Lemur in 1839, later moved between the genera Cheirogaleus and Microcebus, and given their own genus in 1870 by John Edward Gray. Only one species (Phaner furcifer) was recognized, until three subspecies described in 1991 were promoted to species status in 2001. New species may yet be identified, particularly in northeast Madagascar.

Fork-marked lemurs are among the least studied of all lemurs and are some of the largest members of the family Cheirogaleidae, weighing around 350 grams (12 oz) or more. They are the most phylogenetically distinct of the cheirogaleids, and considered a sister group to the rest of the family. Aside from their dorsal forked stripe, they have dark rings around their eyes, and large membranous ears. Males have a scent gland on their throat, but only use it during social grooming, not for marking territory. Instead, they are very vocal, making repeated calls at the beginning and end of the night. Like the other members of their family, they are nocturnal, and sleep in tree holes and nests during the day. Monogamous pairing is typical for fork-marked lemurs, and females are dominant. Females are thought to have only one offspring every two years or more.

These species live in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from dry deciduous forests to rainforests, and run quadrupedally across branches. Their diet consists primarily of tree gum and other exudates, though they may obtain some of their protein and nitrogen by hunting small arthropods later at night. Three of the four species are endangered and the other is listed as vulnerable. Their populations are in decline due to habitat destruction. Like all lemurs, they are protected against commercial trade under CITES Appendix I.

Heliconius cydno

Heliconius cydno, the cydno longwing, is a nymphalid butterfly that ranges from Mexico to northern South America. It is typically found in the forest understory and deposits its eggs on a variety of plants of the genus Passiflora. It is a member of the Heliconiinae subfamily of Central and South America, and it is the only heliconiine that can be considered oligophagous. H. cydno is also characterized by hybridization and Müllerian mimicry. Wing coloration plays a key role in mate choice and has further implications in regards to sympatric speciation. Macrolide scent gland extracts and wing-clicking behavior further characterize this species.

Ilybius fenestratus

Ilybius fenestratus is a species of beetle found in many countries in Europe. It was first described by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1781.

The scent gland of this species of beetle is natural source for the anabolic steroid boldenone (Δ1-testosterone).

Indian muntjac

The Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak), also called southern red muntjac and barking deer, is a deer species native to South and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.This muntjac has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair, sometimes with creamy markings. It is among the smallest deer species. It is an omnivore and eats grass, fruit, shoots, seeds, bird eggs, and small animals, and occasionally scavenges on carrion. Its calls sound like barking, often when frightened by a predator, hence the common name "barking deer". Males have canines, short antlers that usually branch just once near the base, and a large postorbital scent gland used to mark territories.


Melamphaus is an Old World genus of true bugs in the family Pyrrhocoridae, the cotton stainers. They are often confused with bugs in the family Lygaeidae, but can be distinguished by the lack of ocelli on the head.

The genus has adults with large and characteristic oval shape and the body is densely covered in short hair. The head behind the eye narrows slightly and the eyes are at a distance from the fore edge of the pronotum. The edge of the pronotum is not extended to the sides or bent down. The metathoracic scent gland has an ostiole with a peritreme and a deep furrow. The sutures on the underside of the abdominal segments between 4 and 5; and between 5 and 6 are strongly curved forwards. Many species may swarm seasonally on seeds of specific trees. Melamphaus faber is known to be found in large numbers on Hydnocarpus anthelmetica and H. wightiana in Singapore.Species that have been included in the genus include:

Melamphaus agnatus Bergroth, 1894

Melamphaus faber (Fabricius, 1787)

Melamphaus fulvomarginatus (Dohrn, 1860)

Melamphaus komodoensis Kirichenko, 1963

Melamphaus rubrocinctus (Stål, 1863)

Melamphaus vicinus Schmidt, 1932

Nasonov's gland

Nasonov's gland produces a pheromone used in recruitment in worker honeybees. The pheromone can serve the purposes of attracting workers to a settled swarm and draw bees who have lost their way back to the hive. It is used to recruit workers to food that lacks a characteristic scent and lead bees to water sources. The gland is located on the dorsal side of the abdomen. Its opening is located at the base of the last tergite at the tip of the abdomen.

Nerolic acid

Nerolic acid, also known as (Z)-3,7-Dimethyl-2,6-octadienoic acid is one of seven chemicals found in the Nasonov scent gland of honey-bees along with geraniol, geranic acid, (E)-citral, (Z)-citral, (E,E)-farnesol, and nerol. Of these, nerolic acid, geraniol, and (E,E)-farnesol are present in the highest proportions.

Panamanian night monkey

The Panamanian night monkey or Chocoan night monkey (Aotus zonalis) is a species of night monkey formerly considered a subspecies of the gray-bellied night monkey of the family Aotidae. Its range consists of Panama and the Chocó region of Colombia. There are also unconfirmed reports of its occurrence in Costa Rica, especially on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The species definitely occurs in the Atlantic lowlands of Panama close to the Costa Rica border.The exact classification of the Panamanian Night Monkey is uncertain. While some authors consider it a subspecies of the gray-bellied night monkey, A. lemurinus, other authors follow a study by Thomas Defler from 2001, which concluded that it is a separate species, A. zonalis.The Panamanian night monkey is a relatively small monkey, with males weighing approximately 889 grams (31.4 oz) and females weighing about 916 grams (32.3 oz). The fur on the back ranges from grayish brown to reddish brown. The belly is yellow. The hair on the back of the hands and feet is black or dark brown, which is a key distinguishing feature from other northern "gray-necked" Aotus species; also, its hair is shorter. Other distinguishing features relate to its skull, which has a broad braincase, a depressed interorbital region, and large molariform teeth.Like other night monkeys, the Panamanian night monkey has large eyes, befitting its nocturnal lifestyle. But unlike many nocturnal animal species, its eyes do not have a tapetum lucidum. Also like other night monkeys, it has a short tail relative to the body size.The Panamanian night monkey is arboreal and nocturnal. It and the other members of the genus Aotus are the only nocturnal monkeys. It is found in several types of forest, including secondary forest and coffee plantations. It lives in small groups of between two and six monkeys, consisting of an adult pair and one infant and several juveniles and/or subadults. Groups are territorial, and groups occupy ranges that overlap only slightly.Vocal, olfactory and behavioral forms of communication have all been recorded. At least nine vocal calls have been reported, including various types of grunts, screams, squeals, moans and trills. Males develop a scent gland near their tail at the age of about one year that is used for scent marking. Urine washing, in which urine is rubbed on the hands and feet, is also used. Behavioral communication appears to be less important than vocal and olfactory communication, but certain behavioral displays, including arched back displays, stiff legged jumping, urination, defecation and piloerection have been noted.The Panamanian night monkey generally walks on all four legs, although it is capable of leaping or running when necessary. It eats a variety of foods. In one study, on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, its diet was found to consist of 65% fruits, 30% leaves and 5% insects.In common with other night monkeys, the Panamanian night monkey is one of the few monogamous monkeys. The monogamous pair generally gives birth to a single infant each year, although twins occasionally occur. The gestation period is about 133 days. The father carries the infant from the time it is one or two days old, passing it to the mother for nursing.Although viewing monkeys is popular with tourists visiting Panama, the Panamanian night monkey's nocturnal habits make it less often seen than the other Panamanian monkey species. However, with a skilled guide it is possible to observe the Panamanian night monkey.

Preorbital gland

The preorbital gland is a paired exocrine gland found in many species of hoofed animals, which is homologous to the lacrimal gland found in humans. These glands are trenchlike slits of dark blue to black, nearly bare skin extending from the medial canthus of each eye. They are lined by a combination of sebaceous and sudoriferous glands, and they produce secretions which contain pheromones and other semiochemical compounds. Ungulates frequently deposit these secretions on twigs and grass as a means of communication with other animals.The preorbital gland serves different roles in different species. Pheromone-containing secretions from the preorbital gland may serve to establish an animal's dominance (especially in preparation for breeding), mark its territory, or simply to produce a pleasurable sensation to the animal. Because of its critical role in scent marking, the preorbital gland is usually considered as a type of scent gland. A further function of these glands may be to produce antimicrobial compounds to fight against skin pathogens. Antimicrobial compounds found in these glands may be biosynthesized by the animal itself, or by microorganisms that live in these glands.

Roberts's flat-headed bat

Roberts's flat-headed bat (Sauromys petrophilus) is a species of free-tailed bat native to southern Africa. It is the only species in the genus Sauromys. The scientific name translates as "rock loving lizard-mouse", while the common name honours Austin Roberts, who first described the species.

Small-toothed palm civet

The small-toothed palm civet (Arctogalidia trivirgata), also known as the three-striped palm civet, is a palm civet. It lives in dense forests of southeast Asia, from the Assam district of India to Indochina and the Malay Peninsula and on Sumatra, Bangka, Java, Borneo, and numerous small nearby islands of Indonesia.

A monotypic genus, Arctogalidia means ‘bear-weasel’ (from ancient Greek arkto- ‘bear’ + galidia ‘little weasel’). The specific epithet trivirgata means ‘three-striped’ in Latin.

The small-toothed palm civet is mid-sized by the standards of its family, weighing 2.4 kg (5.3 lbs) and measuring 53 cm (21 in) long along the body, plus a tail of 58 cm (23 in). It has short fur that is generally a tawny or buff color while the head is a darker greyish tawny. Its muzzle is brown with a white streak that extends from the nose to the forehead. The back has three distinct black or dark brown stripes running along the length of the body. Only the females have the perineal scent gland, located near the vulva.

The diet is varied and omnivorous, and usually consists of insects, small mammals, nesting birds, fruits, frogs and lizards. Matching the habits of other palm civets, this species is solitary, arboreal and nocturnal. Its gestation period is 45 days, and the average litter size is 3, which are born in dens made in the trees. Young open their eyes at 11 days and are weaned at two months. It can have two litters a year and there is no set mating season. It can live for 11 years. It is threatened primarily by deforestation, as are many Southeast Asian forest animals.

Sugar glider

The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small, omnivorous, arboreal, and nocturnal gliding possum belonging to the marsupial infraclass. The common name refers to its preference for sugary foods like sap and nectar and its ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel. They have very similar habits and appearance to the flying squirrel, despite not being closely related—an example of convergent evolution. The scientific name, Petaurus breviceps, translates from Latin as "short-headed rope-dancer", a reference to their canopy acrobatics.The sugar glider is characterised by its gliding membrane, known as the patagium, which extends from its forelegs to its hindlegs, one on each side of its body. Gliding serves as an efficient means of reaching food and evading predators. The animal is covered in soft, pale grey to light brown fur which is countershaded, being lighter in colour on its underside.

The sugar glider is endemic to parts of mainland Australia, New Guinea and certain Indonesian islands; and it was introduced to Tasmania, probably in the 1830s. It is a popular exotic pet but is prohibited in some regions, including parts of Australia and the United States.

Territory (animal)

In ethology, territory is the sociographical area that an animal of a particular species consistently defends against conspecifics (or, occasionally, animals of other species). Animals that defend territories in this way are referred to as territorial.

Territoriality is only shown by a minority of species. More commonly, an individual or a group of animals has an area that it habitually uses but does not necessarily defend; this is called the home range. The home ranges of different groups of animals often overlap, or in the overlap areas, the groups tend to avoid each other rather than seeking to expel each other. Within the home range there may be a core area that no other individual group uses, but, again, this is as a result of avoidance.

Violet gland

The violet gland or supracaudal gland is a gland located on the upper surface of the tail of certain mammals, including European badgers and canids such as foxes, wolves, and the domestic dog, as well as the domestic cat. Like many other mammalian secretion glands, the violet gland consists of modified sweat glands and sebaceous glands.

It is used for intra-species signalling, scent marking, and contributes to the strong odor of foxes in particular. Although it secretes a mixture of volatile terpenes similar to those produced by violets (hence the name), the chemicals are produced in much greater quantity than in flowers, and the resulting strong smell can be quite unpleasant.

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