Just like humans, some animals live in a society with laws to be observed, a leader to be respected, kids to be fed and a territory to be defended by all means. Some of the animals live solitary life except during the breeding season or bringing up their young ones. The animals that live in groups have a well-defined chain of command. Life expectancy of the animals living in groups is longer than the lone rangers.
Here are four animal species that live as a family;
Lions are the most social of all the wild cat species, and live in prides. Male lions have to fight with other male intruders to protect their pride. Once a male is ejected from its territory, they end up becoming scavengers if they are not lucky to secure another pride of lionesses. Also if a lion loses its territory to a new comer, the former’s cubs will be killed by the latter and trigger the female to come to estrus so that they can father their own cubs.
If there are two or more lionesses with cubs, then there is that freedom of cubs suckling from any mother.
Old females even with missing teeth are waited on and shared food with the rest of the family. Nuzzling is not just a cuddly behavior, lionesses lick each other and males rub their heads to strengthen social bond. Male lions roar to assert their authority and dominance.
Domestic dogs are social animals, and their wild relatives are no different. Wolves usually hunt in packs of five to 10 members; however, this number may increase or decrease depending on the amount of wolves in the area. Packs follow a very specific hierarchy, headed by the alpha male and alpha female.
Groups of wolves have been known to stage ambushes. One wolf can act as a decoy, while the rest of the pack sneaks up on the prey. The pack’s prey ranges from larger animals, like elk and moose, to smaller animals, like rabbits and foxes. Wolves can also be cannibalistic, eating their own dead.
Before or after hunts, wolves may howl to suggest a pack gathering.
African wild dogs
The social structure of the African wild dogs pack is a fascinating, almost altruistic system. Like other pack animals there is a strict hierarchy, with an alpha breeding pair in charge of the group and the rest of the pack members are all subordinates. When a litter of pups is born, they take priority over even the alphas. At first pups are fed by the dogs regurgitating fresh meat after returning from a hunt, but once old enough, they are taken to the kill and given first choice over the spoils. The other dogs patiently wait on the side lines, standing guard until their turn to feed. They almost never fight amongst themselves over food due to this ranking system. When a dog becomes ill, injured or elderly restricting or even incapacitating their effectiveness as a hunter, the rest of the pack cares for and feeds them.
They live in groups of up to 30 members. Meerkats are primarily insectivores, but also eat other animals like snakes, lizards, eggs and small birds among others. They also feed on plants and fungi. Meerkats are immune to certain types of venom, including the very strong venom of the scorpions.
Meerkats forage in a group with one on guard watching for predators while the others search for food. The meerkat standing guard makes peeping sounds when all is well
Baby meerkats do not start foraging for food until they are about 1 month old, and do so by following an older member of the group who acts as the pup’s tutor.