Aggression in animals | Ethology

Two Reindeer locking horns

Aggression is defined as the feelings of anger or antipathy resulting in hostile or violent behavior. Aggression in animals is the main cause of offensive behavior in animals .

Aggression is triggered by external and internal stimuli such as hunger, pain, breeding factor, genetic factor, social circumstances, learning and frustration.

A dog showing aggression by barking
Pic 1 : A dog showing aggression by barking.

Aggression in animals is of many types:

1. Xenophobia or Aggression towards stranger.

2. Crowding or Proximate aggression.

3. Space or territorial aggression.

4. Sexual aggression.

5. Social status or dominance aggression

6. Food or feeding aggression

Xenophobia or Aggression towards stranger

This type of aggression is seen in all animal groups when they see or feels the presence of strangers, specially in their territory.

Eg: When a dog enters the territory of another dog, the other dog on seeing the new dog shows aggression by barking, growling ,showing teeth etc.

Dog barking and showing aggression on seeing strangers on a street
Pic 2: Dog barking and showing aggression on seeing strangers on a street.

Crowding or Proximate Aggression

Crowding causes more aggression in animals and aggression leads to encounters as crowding causes decrease in space per animal which leads to more encounter and aggression.

Eg: Presence of two male cats in a small locality leads to conflict among them.

Sexual aggression in animals

This type of aggression is seen among male individuals (rarely in females) towards other male individuals during the mating season.

Sometimes, it is also seen towards females, when females refuses to have sexual intercourse as seen in Monkeys, Baboons, Lions, Cats.

Two Reindeer fighting for a mate.
Pic 3: Two Reindeer fighting for a mate.

Space or territorial aggression in animals

This type of aggression is seen in all animal groups and especially among male individuals to keep other male individuals away from their territory.

It is generally not seen towards female individuals as male individuals are tolerant towards female individuals.

Eg: Monkey shows aggression when stranger monkey comes closer to their group.

Territorial aggression as seen in dogs which is a kind of aggression in animals
Pic 4: Territorial aggression as seen in dogs.

Social status or dominance aggression

This type of aggression in animals is seen among the members of the same social group. It is displayed by the strongest and dominant member of the group to establish dominance in the group.

Dominance is established by showing facial expression ,lifting tail and sometimes fight etc.

Food or Feeding aggression

This type of aggression is seen in animals when there is shortage of food and the animal feeding on it is higher.

It is seen among human and all other animal. it is the most common type of aggression in animals. Shortage of food leads to conflict and fight among animals.

Eg: If a banana is given among two monkeys, both the monkey will fight over the banana.

Food aggression shown by a dog which is a kind of aggression in animals
Pic 5: Food aggression shown by a dog.

Nest or Paternal aggression in animals

This type of aggression in animals is seen when an intruder or stranger gets closer to their babies or young ones. It is seen in all animals.

Eg: When a man gets closer to a calf, its mom (cow) shows aggression by chasing the man or by showing facial expression

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