Can animals kill themselves?

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by pit, Dec 2, 2008.

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  1. pit

    pit Well-Known Member

    Whenever I hear about a pod of whales deliberately beaching themselves, I wonder if they're suicidal. I heard this one story about a depressed octopus who let all the water out of his tank and died. Poor octy.
     
  2. JohnADreams

    JohnADreams Well-Known Member

    Animals can get depressed, or show signs of stress but this is mainly due to the size and survivability of the animals in question. The higher survivability is, the more the animals are susceptible to stress. It's as if social pressures substitute for environmental dangers.

    (Gorillas have more stress and comparatively less natural predators than the more vulnerable types of monkeys)

    Suicide in animals may be possible but from different species. Some dogs will risk their lives for their masters for instance. I've never looked into why Whales beach themselves, just thought it was the unfortunate result of man's impact on the world.
     
  3. Just_a_guy

    Just_a_guy Well-Known Member

    I really doubt that wales(or other animals) deliberately want to kill themselves. I dont think they simply have enough mental capacity or intelligence, or whatever you wanna call it, to deliberately kill themselves just for that reason. Im sure a lot of different animals put themselves in harms way for many reasons but not because they just want to die. Animals have certain instincts and they live following those.

    Can one kill him/herself deliberately without knowing what living or dying means? :D

    According to wikipedia whales get beached of various reasons like the currents or winds carrying them too close to the shore.
     
  4. fromthatshow

    fromthatshow Staff Alumni

    Oh my goodness :eek:hmy:. This can be a very depressing world, even for an Octopus I suppose!
     
  5. samanalea

    samanalea Member

    i know that animals can starve themselves to death due to depression. it happens sometimes when social animals are kept on there own. experienced that with my own pets, once. one of my rabbits once got seriously depressed when the second one died and didn´t eat or even get up for several days until i got him a new companion. i have absolutely no doubt that he would have stuck to that not eating thing to the very end.

    i think the most famous example of animals commiting suicide are lemmings. i am really surprised no-one posted that here, yet. they are known for commiting mass suicide by jumping of cliffs every couple of years. it´s beliefed that they do that to control their population when there are to many lemmings around that all could survive on the resources given.

    as far as i know whales beachen themselves is beliefed to have something to do with outer influences. the most popular theory is that their sense of direction gets confused due to the many noises in the ocean made by ships or for example the tunnel in the channel. the theory that it´s human influence as well that makes whales beach themselves is apart from other things based on the fact that there are a lot more reported beachings of whales now than for example 100 years ago. and that they showed in trials that the whales sense of direction can be confused if many different echowaves are in the water.

    i am not quite convinced about the octopus commiting suicide unless the octopus pushed the water out of it´s tank bit by bit. if it just managed to open the drain i doubt that it tried to commit suicide as i doubt that the octopus was aware of the connection between the drain and the water being in it´s tank.
     
  6. wastedmylife

    wastedmylife Well-Known Member

    yea when I worked in a pet store this happened alot, if 2 birds were caged together and 1 of the birds was purchased, it wasnt to uncommon to see the other bird dead a few days later from not eating
     
  7. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    Yea.. I agree with wastedmylife..as far as I know its not uncommon for birds to kill themselves. If they are caged and catch sight of a cat..they may keep banging themselves off the bars until they are dead because they know they're in danger.
     
  8. Malcontent

    Malcontent Staff Alumni

    Sorry to be a know-it-all but that's a myth that was perpetuated by a 1958 "nature" film called White Wilderness. The lemmings in that film were imported by the film makers into a part of Canada where they don't naturally live and deliberatly herded off a cliff to make it look like they were jumping. The entire sequence was faked. Lemming populations grow fast and they migrate when they've exhausted the food supply in a particular area. Many die from drowning or possibly accidental falling, and they sometimes kill each other for food if population numbers are greater than resources, but they definately don't commit suicide.
     
  9. samanalea

    samanalea Member

    just wiki-ed what you said and you are right. and not only was i mislead by a myth out of some nature documantery but out of a WALT DISNEY movie! :eek:hmy:
    thanks for clearing that up to me.
     
  10. The_Discarded

    The_Discarded Staff Alumni

    I read, once, that tarsiers (little animals with big eyes and long appendages from the Phillipines), become very depressed when held in captivity and are known to commit suicide by banging their heads against the walls of their cages.

    I may or may not be bullshitting entirely (and I'm too lazy/stupid to further investigate), but it seems interesting enough...
     
  11. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    I think it can vary animal to animal, but largely I'd say they can't. I think most of them lack the intelligence to understand death.
     
  12. xan

    xan Chat Buddy

  13. bhawk

    bhawk Well-Known Member

    amazingly there is no one trait in humans that isnt found in some form in other animals, plus we ourselves are animals giving the obvious answer of yes.
    animals are known to grieve, starve themselves while protecting a mates body from scavengers, they show altruistic traits, some ants blow their own head to pieces to slow down predators.
    suicide does not necessarily go against nature as long as the parents genes are passed on, there are many animals this applies to such as angler fish, the male being many times smaller than the female has some amazing tricks up his sleeve, one being that if he cant find a female he will become a female and grow rapidly. the other trick is their breeding habit of swimming up to a female and latching onto the females body, from that point the male slowly becomes absorbed into the female body leaving only a small pair of testes latched onto the side of the female.
    as also said before many animals suffer depression and its not uncommon for animals to self mutilate too. a common example is parrots and i have personally seen a parrot that had chewed a few of its own toes off and severely damaged its muscle tissue in its wings. animals are much more complex than us humans think!
     
  14. hammockmonkey

    hammockmonkey Well-Known Member


    And, they taste delicious.
     
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