10 Amazing Facts About Animal Sentience

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on January 10, 2014. Enjoy!

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 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

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 – not just the reward – that made them jump for joy!

2. Sheep Respond to Facial Expressions


Photo Credit: Xavier Teo/Unsplash

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

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 Cry When Separated From Their Friends

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


Photo Credit: John Towner/Unsplash

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

6. Octopi Are Masters of Disguise

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 to plan out a complex attack or getaway method using these tools.

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


Photo Credit: Jiri Safalda/Unsplash

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

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


Photo Credit: Chan Swan/Unsplash

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

10. Fish Have Pain Receptors Strikingly Similar to Those of Mammals


Photo Credit: David Clode/Unsplash

Everyone agrees that other mammals feel pain just like humans do, but there’s 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: Kym Ellis/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Caitlin L
Caitlin L6 months ago

Thank you

Greta L
Greta L7 months ago

thanks for sharing

Filomena C
Filomena C10 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C10 months ago

Good to know!

Karen B
Karen B10 months ago


Janis K
Janis K10 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Patty L
Patty Langford10 months ago


KimJ M
KimJ M10 months ago


KimJ M
KimJ M10 months ago