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Strange behavior in the animal kingdom...

9 Answers
I ran across this video on YouTube. I think it's one of the stranger events I've ever seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdHjRZki9Qc Have you ever witnessed or do you personally know of an animal 'adopting' a baby of a different species?
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It is astounding to witness a predator at the top of the food chain "adopt" a defenseless prey animal that in ordinary circumstances would simply be an easy kill. However these strange pairings, seemingly contrary to nature, do occur.

A lioness was observed over a period of several months during which time she repeatedly bonded with baby oryxes. The female would protect and nuture her pseudo-offspring until the young calves would succumb to starvation/dehydration without nourishment. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSJYIEk5n6o&feature;=relmfu ) It is unknown whether she was instinctively attempting to "mother" the defenseless animals or seeking social interaction as a result of the loss of an animal to which she was previously bonded to.

It is not uncommon for nursing cats and dogs to be used as substitute mothers for young orphaned animals of numerous species. Many of these lactating females will accept a helpless young animal in need of nourishment. It is an compulsive, instinctive response triggered by hormonal influences and not necessarily a voluntary, conscious decision.

Further evidence of instinctive "mothering" would be in the case of animals (often dogs) experiencing pseudocyesis. Even dogs that have never given birth and are having a "false pregnancy" may instinctively seek substitutes to nurture. It is not uncommon for one of these females to select toys as their pseudo-offspring. These dogs will carry their "babies" and even nuzzle the objects, gently pushing the toy underneath them to nurse. If by chance the toy has a "squeaker" inside, the sound can cause the mother great distress as it is interpreted as the cry of a helpless puppy.

After up to two months have passed, (the length of an actual canine pregnancy), a dog's state of pseudocyesis will tend to subside as a result of hormonal changes. It is fascinating to watch these animals but it does evoke pity. The owner's patience and understanding is imperative until the condition resolves. (The inanimate "babies" should not be taken away during this time.)

Although it is unusual, it is also understandable why a predator (usually female) would "adopt" a helpless prey animal. The youngster triggers maternal instincts or fulfills the need for a social bond.

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I had a rescue cat that went to the aide of an abandoned Great Dane mother. The mother died when the pups were only 4 weeks old and the cat, a boy we named Spain tended to all four of her puppies full time with the exception of being able to feed them himself. We did the feeding, he did the grooming and comforting. He played with them and seemed not to notice that those four Great Dane puppies out weighed him by many pounds as they all piled on top of him.

Those puppies answered to Spain as though he were their own mother/father, coming when he called and following along obediently when he took them out for exercise and carousing.

Growing up we had a Cocker Spaniel mix named Bobo who had lost his own mother when he was only a week old. He never liked cats but would tolerate our pet cats. My cat, Blacky gave birth to several kittens one of which was obviously retarded. This little kitten we named Midnight. Midnight just had no self-preservation skills and was way too trusting. Bobo adopted Midnight and they became best friends. For Midnight that was a great boon as he no longer ever had to fear being hurt by wild animals, he learned to stay close to Bobo and showed his appreciation by his constant attention to cleaning the dog's ears and grooming him. For Bobo, who was getting on in years, Midnight became his reason to be. He not only defended the cat in times of trouble but always had a place for him to curl up and sleep just beneath his chin and close to his heart.

I wish I had a picture to show of Midnight riding high and proud upon Bobo's shoulders.

I find these animals touching abberations to the common law of survival. Also a great lesson to all humanity when we begin to think we are the only ones with souls and kindness to claim.

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My ex-husband cut a tree down once only to discover it held a mother raccoon and three babies. Unfortunately, Mama Raccoon died when the tree was felled.

We decided to raise one and we found homes for the other two. A family member took one and a friend took the other.

We kept our raccoon outside in a hutch of sorts and had minimal contact with it. It wasn't our goal to turn it into a pet. We released it as soon as it was old enough to fend for itself.

The family member tried to make a house pet out of theirs which didn't turn out so well. I'm not sure what they ultimately did with their raccoon.

Our friend lived on a farm. He put his raccoon in the barn with his cats where it became fast friends with one of the males. They were inseparable.

Oddly, the raccoon's behavior was more like that of a cat than a wild raccoon. It drank milk from a bowel. The raccoon even crept around the barn and tried, unsuccessfully, to catch mice.

The male cat used to catch mice and deliver every second one live to the raccoon. In return the raccoon used to scoop cat food out of the dish with those little paws and put it aside for the male cat. The raccoon guarded the food from the other cats until his 'friend' was ready to feed. The raccoon never ate the food itself.

It was amazing and amusing to see!

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I think that humans far too often feel that they have cornered the market on compassion and love. This is not so. In the animal kingdom there are very few species that actually kill for fun or out of jealousy. For those species that do you will notice that they are usually part of the primate family.
Not too long ago there was a video on yahoo that featured some big cats, I think lions, playing with a baby gazelle. The video showed the big cats licking the gazelle and well playing with their food. At the end of the video it shows the cats watching the gazelle wander back to its herd. That was by far the most striking animal video I have ever seen. Considering how often a lion fails to bring down its intended prey it is astounding to me that they would play and release what could have been dinner.
The animal kingdom is nothing if not surprising.

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I can just see that raccoon fetching the cat food and fending off the other cats. What in the world did the raccoon do with those mice I wonder. There's a lot to be admired when it comes to our furry, feathered, winged and gilled friends.

I just can't understand people who want to turn wild animals into pets. Well, I can understand the fascination but not that need that some people seem to have. There is just nothing to admire there in either the animal or the person. I was always told growing up that the best pets are the ones that choose you. I have found that to be the truest statement regarding animals I have ever heard.

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I gave some of my rabbits away. One person that took a rabbit had some cats. He had a mother cat with some kittens. The mother cat adopted the rabbit and the rabbit started acting a bit like a cat. Later he gave the rabbit back because the rabbit chewed through a wire for his TV. I never saw the rabbit with his cats but it took a while before the rabbit would eat rabbit food again. It wanted cat food.

A while ago I saw a mother ape or gorilla protect a human baby. It did not adopt the baby because someone came and got it but the mother had the instinct to protect the baby. I saw it on the news.

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I actually have seen quite a few reports and videos showing animals seeming to adopt another animal, despite it's species and what we'd expect to end badly.ifeel that if conditions are right, the instinct that takes over is more motherly than being a predator or otherwise. I have seen videos of this happening with a cat and mouse, snake and mouse, and many others with domestic and wild animals. It's really quite amazing.

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Spinth23 It just amazed me when animals like cats adopt animals which are usually their prey--like the rabbit in your story. I wonder why they don't kill them. That should be their natural instinct.

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Having only witnessed the raccoon guarding the cat food and not the mouse-giving, I always assumed the raccoon at them. They are omnivorous, aren't they? I'll have to look that up now.

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