Blog: Carlita the Croc

On Deducing Animal Behavior

I hesitate to comment on this topic because, as an ambush predator, I rely on these types of misconceptions to catch my food. I depend on others mistaking my sedentary behavior for relaxation, laziness, docility, etc., rather than lying in wait for someone to get too comfortable and come too near.  However, I came across this article about the ways in which humans misinterpret animal behavior and I thought it was pretty interesting.

Who among humans doesn’t wish to have Dr. Dolittle-animal-whisperer-like abilities? They pride themselves on being able to “read” animal behavior, but are often times wrong.  Hence, programs like “When Animals Attack!”

A common mistake is assuming animals have the same feelings and ways of expressing themselves as humans, or even other animals. Case in point:  When you come home and your cat rubs itself all over you.  You think it missed you and is snuggling like a dog might do. Nope. It’s scent marking you as their property.

How about this one?

Kangaroo arm licking

Cleaning itself like a cat, right?  Wrong.  Licking arms is how kangaroos keep themselves cool.

“But, Candid Croc,” you beseech, “how will we ever understand the mind of an animal?”

To which I would answer, “You can never know for sure.”  Unless, of course, you find a talking, typing lady croc who can tell you her thoughts in plain language.

But there are those humans who get close. Animal behaviorists observe, collect data, analyze, and draw conclusions. Many of these people, or researchers, can be found at zoos.  Take, for example, Chicago Zoological Society’s Center for the Science of Animal Welfare.  Their Ethotrak© program allows them to make observations, and let the data drive their conclusions about animal behavior and advise their decisions on how to care for those animals.  Check out the Center for Animal Welfare section of this page to learn more.

Until next time, humans, happy observing…from a safe distance.

Posted: 2/12/2015 10:18:36 AM by Filed under: :animal, animal welfare, behavior, Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield Zoo Blog, Candid Croc, Ethotrak, kangaroo

Carlita the Croc

I'm Carlita the Croc, here to deliver my candid views on various topics, articles, news, and stories in conservation. For the latest news follow me on Twitter, for striking photos follow me on Instagram.


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