how do animals without parental training know how to be the animals they are?


Like snakes, bees, lizards, crocs. Everything that doesn’t have a parent raise them. How do they “know” how to survive?


First, if I were to cut your skull vertically and take a look at a cross-section of your brain, I’d be able to divide it into what you normally think of as the brain (the noodlely bits) and the brain-stem.
Most of your instinctual functions, such as curling away from heat, your fight or flight instincts, reflex to swallow things put in your mouth, etc. are all handled by the brain-stem.
Animals that don’t require parental nurture often have their behavior programmed into them. They’re extremely complex chemical reactions at the end of the day.

They are literally programmed like a computer. The same way an application knows how to be an application. There is code in their genetic material that instructs them to do what a bee does, or what a lizard does.

Everything that they do is an effort to survive, and procreate. Some animals are intelligent enough to innovate, and play/do recreational activities, but their main pull in life is survival, and procreation.

When you hear the word “instinct” you can literally translate it to “code base”.

Animals are pre-programmed with basic survival instincts. Not only for their own survival but for that of their species (including humans). Males and females have different hormones which guide them into certain roles to fulfil this duty. We are only here propagate and multiply.


I work with a number of animals, and hand reared many. My response to this is that an animal has a set of behaviours, names ‘innate’ or ‘instinctive’ behaviours. These are almost programmed when they are born and do this without learning. An example of this is the choking response to cough, or the baby’s behaviour to suckle when breastfed. It helps us survive to a stage where we can learn.

Aside from genetically pre-programed instincts, animals also learn from each other even if they aren’t specifically raised by a parent by watching other animals.

Also, the animals that screw up get killed in pretty short order, so you’re only seeing the successful ones. Biologists divide this up into r-Strategists and K-Strategists.

The r-strategists have a whole bunch of offspring and don’t put a lot of effort into teaching or raising them. Many die young, but enough are smart or lucky enough to survive and continue the species. Many insects & some fish fall into this category for instance.

K-strategists on the other hand have a smaller number of offspring but devote much more energy to keeping them alive. This could mean putting energy into protecting and teaching their young, but it also means devoting more energy into larger brains, longer gestation & larger sizes at birth, etc.