Hi Anne ! Here I come with one silly question : is it possible for a wolf to wag its tail to show happiness ? I've only ever seen wolves in animal parc centers thingies (like Sainte-Croix, in France) but I've never seen them do so. Love your tumblr (it really is fantastic to have a place to go to see and learn about wolves)
Hi you :) When you consider “happiness” and “excitement” to be the same thing, then yes!
The tail is the most dynamic of wolves their visual elements. Interpretations of a wolf wagging their tail heavily relies on the combination of the body language of other body parts and the situation the wolf is in.
Some examples of when wagging tails in moments of happiness/excitement/friendliness:
Generally, wolves wag their tails when there is an increase of energy or excitement occurs, for example during play or greeting another wolf. Wolf puppies wag their tails when they see their mother, and the mother wags her tail as well.
Wagging of the tail also conveys friendliness, and submissive wolves may enhance this signal by moving the hindquarters as well. (Mech et al., 2003)
Tail wagging by older pups may serve as a metacommunication signal, indicating playful intentions. Thus an agressive message indicated by the eyes, ears, and voice may be “voided” by a wagging tail. (Mech et al., 2003)
Also, check out this video - those happy wolves clearly show their happiness/excitement for being reunited with their caretaker who was away for several months through almost wagging their tails off.