Instinct: What You Should Know

“Instinct” is a word used to talk about animal behavior. Animals do something because their instincts make them do it. Instinct is a drive that is innate in animals and not something that is learned. Instinct is kind of the opposite of intelligence. Some researchers also speak of instinct when it comes to people. The word comes from Latin: “instincts” means something like incentive or drive.

An example is the way animals care for their young. Animals do this very differently: some animal species simply abandon their young, like frogs. Elephants, on the other hand, take very long and thorough care of little elephants. They just have a different instinct than frogs.

Scientists disagree on exactly what instinct is supposed to be. Above all, it is controversial: Is everything that is called instinct really innate? Don’t young animals also learn how to do something from the old? Also, saying that behavior comes from instinct doesn’t mean much. It still doesn’t explain what instinct is and where it comes from.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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