Mammal Communication

As humans, communication comes very naturally to us. We wave hello to people from a distance. We shake hands, hug, and high-five our friends when they're close. And we use language to communicate verbally and through written words on a daily basis to interact with one another. Although they don't have the same ability to communicate that humans do, mammals also communicate with one another frequently. We're familiar with many great animal sounds that they use to either sound an alarm, attract a mate, or as a warning to other animals. But more importantly, animals frequently use non-verbal communication, also known as "body language" to communicate.

Which Animals Communicate?

The short answer: all of them. However, a perfect animal to study communication, is the common pet dog. We're familiar with their bark, which is used to alert their pack or family to a disturbance. Dogs growl to show an animal that they are willing to use their teeth to bite and defend themselves if provoked. Other dogs howl to call out to other dogs at a great distance. They use their advanced hearing to communicate from hundreds of yards away!

But this is not completely different from human communication, because we often express ourselves verbally as well. However, mammals, like the dog, typically have other strong senses besides just hearing, and utilize those as well. For instance, dogs use their sense of smell to learn information about other dogs and animals. Dogs may also lick the face of another dog as a form of greeting, then move on to sniffing the other dog in all their sniffable parts. This sniffing is far more important than other communication for the dog to actually know the other dog it's interacting with.

Do All Animals Communicate With The Same Language?

Different animals will communicate in different ways. A wolf howls, but a big cat may screech or roar for the same reason. A rabbit, for instance, will thump its feet on the ground and can be heard up to a mile away! But there is some common ground. Scent, for instance, isn't only used for dogs. Many different mammals will use glands to spread their scent to either mark their territory or attract a mate. However, for animals that do this like bears and mountain lions, it is also a disadvantage, as their prey can also smell that mark, alerting them to the danger.

What's important to know about mammal communication is that the majority of it is non-verbal. Sometimes it may be easy to spot like the showing of teeth, and other times it can be completely undetectable by humans, like through scent and smell.

 

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