Skip to Content

Interactions – Between animals, and animals and humans

Man saves dog using his sweatshirt. Image via depositphotos.

Earth is populated with all sorts of weird and wacky creatures, including ourselves, that have evolved alongside one another for millennia. Naturally, some interesting interactions are bound to occur between different species or even within the same species. 

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to witness or, better yet, capture footage of these interactions as they happen. This gives us some insight into the world as other animals experience it. Luckily, we have stories of many such occasions, ready to be read or watched!

American soldier coming back home to his family. Image by sinenkiy via depositphotos.com

Symbiotic Relationships

“Symbiosis” refers to any type of biological interaction between two animals of different species. There are three main types of symbiotic relationships that animals may have with one another: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

Mutualism

  • Mutual benefit

Goby & shrimp: Goby fish and shrimp sometimes live together in a sandy burrow dug by the shrimp. The shrimp keeps the burrow clean by feeding on stray particulate matter; however shrimps are almost blind, so when a predator approaches, the goby fish will tap the shrimp to warn it, and they will both retreat into the burrow for safety. This is, thus, a mutually beneficial relationship.

goby fish shrimp
Goby fish & shrimp by their shared burrow. Rickard Zerpe, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Commensalism

  • One benefit, one no effect

Cattle & cattle egrets: Cattle egrets are aptly named birds as they spend most of their time perched on the backs of cattle. As the cattle graze in the fields, various insects fly up from their spots in the grass, making them easily accessible food for the egrets. The cattle are unaffected by this interaction, but the egrets benefit from it.

cattle egret
Cattle egret on cattle.
Dr. Raju Kasambe, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Parasitism

  • One harmed, one benefit

Mosquitos & humans: This is a relationship many of us are far too familiar with. Mosquitoes feed on blood, including, and perhaps in particular, human blood. Mosquitos leave behind an itchy bite mark when they are finished feasting, but worse still, many mosquitoes carry deadly diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, and the Zika virus, to name a few. Horrifyingly, mosquitoes are responsible for killing 700,000 human deaths every year. 

mosquito
Parasitic mosquito. Image by Mohamed Nuzrath via Pixabay

Latest Animal Interactions News

FAQs

1. Can different animal species communicate with one another? 

Animals communicate with different species via sounds, such as hissing or barking, scent, such as to mark their territory, or body language, such as baring their teeth. Animals of different species don’t often communicate, unless for warning. 

2. Why do some animals form friendships with other species?

Animals may form mutualistic relationships with other animals as a survival mechanism, like in the case of shrimp and gory fish, or due to living in close proximity, like in zoos or as pets in a household.

3. What ethical considerations arise from keeping animals in zoos?

Zoo advocates argue that they function to save endangered species and educate people about animal conservation; whereas activists argue that the animals have a much poorer quality of life in their small enclosures with very little privacy, even if they are endangered.

4. What is the difference between taming and domesticating? 

Taming refers to modifying the behavior of a wild-born animal, whereas domesticating refers to the permanent genetic modification of a lineage of animals over time.

Animal Interaction News

History of Domestication

Animal domestication began over 15,000 years ago with wolves, who have been selectively bred into every breed of modern dog alive today. Wolves and humans formed a mutualistic relationship, with wolves providing protection and humans providing food. 

The oldest known burial site featuring a cat is dated to around 9,500 years ago; however, the first clear evidence of domesticated cats dates back 8,000 years ago in Egypt. If you know anything about cats, you’ll know that it is more than likely they domesticated themselves. They may have opted to live close to humans because of the rodent populations that accompanied growing civilizations. 

Cattle, goats, pigs, and sheep were domesticated around 11,000 years ago in an area which is now Northern Africa, Middle East, and West Asia. These animals were bred for their fur, wool, and, of course, meat. 

Why Do We Write About Animal Interactions?

Currently, according to the IUCN Red List, there are over 44,000 species that are threatened with extinction. We hope that by sharing some incredible interaction stories we can bring awareness to these species and encourage good practice when viewing these animals in their natural habitats. 

Ultimately, watching and reading about animal interactions is a way that you can learn more about these animals while also having fun and being entertained! 

You may also like these animal interactions:

Newest Category: Interactions

Latest posts by Amy King, BSc Microbiology and Physiology (see all)
Cheetah Cubs Play With Warthog Piglets In The Wild Young Cheetah Cub Reunited With Family Adorable Big Cat Cub Sounds Meet The Only Bird To Take On The Eagle 10 Most Popular Pets Living in New York City