10 Amazing Facts About Animal Sentience

Evidence of animal sentience is everywhere. Did you know that turkeys like to sing along to their favorite tunes? Or that hens talk to their babies before they are even born? Or that fish in fact feel pain akin to that of mammals?

These top ten amazing facts about animal sentience are sure to make you love and respect animals for how incredible they truly are (even more than you already do!).

1. Cows Get Excited When They Solve Problems

Image via skinnyde

In 2004, Cambridge University research demonstrated that young heifers were enthusiastic and upbeat when they overcame problems and were able to reap a food reward. Their heart rate increased, and many of them bucked, jumped, or kicked in excitement when they solved the problem. When the same food reward was simply placed in the pen with them, none of the cows showed any signs of excitement whatsoever, proving that it was the problem solving and not just the reward which got them all jumping about!

2. Sheep Respond to Facial Expressions

Image via Eduardo Armarim

Sheep have an amazing ability to remember more than 50 individual faces from their flock even after two years of being separated. They also recognize and react to changing facial expressions of both sheep and humans. They are more relaxed when greeted by a smiling face and become anxious when they see another sheep in distress.

3. Turkeys Enjoy Music and Love to Sing Along

Image via jessamyn

Turkeys are intelligent animals that love listening to music and if inclined will even sing along. They are known to particularly enjoy the high notes and chirp in with their own little ab lib.

4. Goats Hate Being Alone and Cry When Separated From Their Friends

Image via Juick

Goats are extremely social creatures and hate being alone. Although they are herd animals, they tend to make special friends within the herd, and if they ever get separated they will cry and scream all day long until they are reunited.

5. Hens Communicate With Their Chicks Before They Hatch

Image via Key Lime Pie Yumyum

Hens and their offspring begin communicating before the chicks are even born, with the mother hen softly clucking to her babies, and the little chicks peeping back from inside their shells to let her know they will soon be hatching.

6. Octopi Are Masters of Disguise

Image via Eric Charlton

Octopi are able to survey their environment and work out the best way of disguising themselves. Mimic octopi alter their body shape to replicate other animals, whilst others murky the water with black ink so that they can slip away, and some have even been known to pick up shells, rocks and coconuts to disguise themselves. They are extremely perceptive and can analyze the environment and plan out a complex attack or getaway method using these tools.

7. Female Foxes Help to Rear Each Other’s Cubs

Image via Matt Tillet

Vixens have been known to get assistance rearing their cubs by a non-breeding sister or daughter. These ‘aunts’ gain valuable parenting experience which in turn helps them to raise their own successful litter the following season.

8. Newborn Piglets Run to Their Mother’s Voice

Image via crispyking

Pigs are very family-orientated animals and within moments of leaving the womb, piglets head straight to their mother’s face where they rub noses and officially meet for the first time. After that, whenever mom calls out, the piglets come a runnin’.

9. Rabbits Build Incredible Mazes

Image via Mark Philpott

Rabbits (as well as other burrowing animals) are capable of constructing huge labyrinth-style underground systems which are also known as warrens. These warrens have specific passages for eating, sleeping, storing food, entry and exit, and even for emergency escape from predators.

1o. Fish Have Pain Receptors Strikingly Similar to Those of Mammals

Image via moonjazz

Everyone agrees that other mammals feel pain just like humans do, but there is a common misconception that fish do not. In fact, fish have complex nervous systems and pain receptors which trigger the release of endorphins in response to physical injury. Pain is an evolutionary survival mechanism as all animals need to be able to respond to physical dangers whether in the water or on dry land.

Photo Credit: crispyking


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Laura R.
Laura R3 years ago

animals are so amazing :)

True, Pamela W.. People, why don't you discuss your food choices somewhere else? Let's just enjoy all these amazing and beautiful animals :) Peace

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

Well, Suba lost the debate and Past Member won in terms of morality and common sense. Suba's logic justifying cruelty and outright murder is absurd, but in such matters humans can't ever admit they're wrong, since that would imply guilt.

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

"It's a shame that every single article, concerning animals, has to DEGENERATE into a war between vegans and omnivores"

Thankfully in terms of geological timespan, humans are a but blink of insane destruction on the earth. Humanity will indulge their bloodlust cruelty until they drive themselves extinct. It's called life's inevitable revenge.. humans are not exempt from Karma of their actions. When humans go extinct by their own hand (what they deserve), all the billions of animals that suffered under human's hands will not even bother to indulge in that revenge smirk typical of twisted human emotion.. it is not in their nature, and animals are above humans. Life will go on to rebuild the eutopia that humans tried to destroy.. unless humans in their final dying spasms decide to exterminate all of earth's life. But that plan won't even work since there are hundreds of millions of life planets that satanic humanity will never experience. Sad though, for this destroyed and raped once beautiful earth and for the minority of humans that did care, but humanity as a whole is for certain a psychopathic thing and has abundantly proven it doesn't deserve to exist or inhabit the earth

Andrew C.
Andrew C3 years ago

Animals never cease to fascinate and amaze me

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle3 years ago

We're really not that much move evolved than the rest of life on this planet. Especially genetically speaking.

Omri Hussain
Past Member 3 years ago

I just like to add that cats are more caring and social than most people think. Related feral female cats will form a complex social group. They would look affter one anothers' kittens, hunt together and allow other kittens to suckle on their teats. Also a cat's purring has the power to heal humans. It is a very comforting and primal vibration that has the remarkable ability to lower blood pressure and lower stress in humans. The purring of a cat elicits very nurturing intincts in humans, and it is said that humans respond to it the same way as they would to a baby's crying.

Dale O.

Thank you Pamela W and Sherri S. There must be an awareness of how factory farms are run and structured and the way that animals are treated there as this will certainly go a long way in helping those that are unaware of the many shortcomings of factory farming.

Developing an awareness and demanding changes goes a long way to resolving how animals are treated. Animals must be raised in natural conditions and not left to languish in cages and the many other conditions that animals suffer in the factory farm setting. If animals are to be raised for food/dairy, then they must have natural living conditions that are not abusive during their lives. Small scale farms are far more conducive to a pleasant life than are factory farms and even in this setting attention must be paid to how the animals are treated during their lives.

Sherri Simms
Sherri S3 years ago

I don't think articles like this have to start a war between vegans/vegetarians and omnivores. I am a vegetarian, but I realize that most people are not going to stop eating meat. However, I think it is important for people to understand that animals raised for food have feelings too. Many of them are treated inhumanely, abused, neglected, forced to live in deplorable conditions, forced to breed non-stop, etc. I just want those that do consume meat and animal products to be aware of these things and perhaps try to make more compassionate decisions, like eating less meat, eating more humanely raised meat, buying from local, smaller scale farmers, etc.....