The animal experience

The animal experience

Quaila: An individual’s subjective, conscious experience.

  • (*ccbrownsfan** 1 point an hour ago
  • Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, consciousness is advantageous because it allows an organism to dynamically process and interact with its environment on multiple levels all at once. You use your five senses to take in information and then are able to process it and intellectually analyze it, allowing for split-second decision-making and the ability to plan ahead.
  • If you're looking for a more existential or spiritual reason, perhaps look into Mind-Body Monism and Dualism. Additionally, the concept of a Philosophical Zombie may be related to your query.
  • Reddit community, Why am I conscious and aware?

Our nature colours our world

  • If you are a wolf, you will have a built in biological concern for the pack hierarchy, and obtaining food and shelter.
  • If you are a cat, you will have a built in biological instinct to chase things and hunt.
  • If you are a rabbit, you will have a built in biological concern for being observant and quick to react.
  • If you're a man, you will have a built in biological concern for banging everything with a skirt or getting into a position where you can.
  • If you are a woman, you will have a built in biological concern for judging mens fitness (in all respects), their personality, and to be competitive for the good ones.

This is inseperable from their environment

  • An animal is inseparable from its environment.
  • It's mind and body has evolved for its niche. An echidna doesn't have spikes to protect it from some generic predator, they have them to protect from goannas, dingoes, and eagles.
  • If you're rehabilitating a bird that eats nectar from flowers, it won't eat food that you place on the ground because in its mind, the flower is dead. You also have to elevate its cage because the ground is associated with danger.
  • If you are conveying an animal's perspective you have to consider how its environment is practically built into the animal at an extremely detailed level.
  • They are also hyper sensitive to sounds and smells in a way that it's hard for us to appreciate.
  • Male lyrebirds are known for their mating performances, where they dance and sing on a specially prepared stage in the forest. A female will judge the performance to decide if he’s worth mating with. But the males are also extraordinary mimics. If she walks away from him, he will mimic the alarm calls of the other birds in the forest. Expecting danger, she will run back to him for safety.

They only know their own experience

  • [Birds sing what they know about.]
  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • Thirty feet above a thrush sang 'Cherry dew, cherry dew. Knee deep, knee deep, knee deep.'
    • The blue-tit that had been swinging on a bramble, singing 'Heigh, ho, go-and-get-another-bit-of-moss,' stopped his acrobatics and flew into the wood.

Intelligence =/= success

  • Robert Bakker, Reddit AMA
    • Brains do not protect you. The smartest dino's Oviraptors and Troodonts were totally wiped out. While nearly all gators, crocs, lizards, and yes Turtles - small brained animals - survived.


  • Drop in relating the feeling to things we've all felt every now and then
  • There has always been suffering as long as there has been things that can feel. Likewise there has been elation. These feelings are just that - feelings. They are our curse and our divinity, our elevation from matter. The feeling of elation is our victory. And the price that we pay for it is also being able to feel its opposite - suffering.
  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • To come to the end of a time of anxiety and fear! To feel the cloud that hung over us lift and disperse — the cloud that dulled the heart and made happiness no more than a memory ! This at least is one joy that must have been known by almost every living creature. Here is a boy who was waiting to be punished. But then, unexpectedly, he finds that his fault has been overlooked or forgiven and at once the world reappears in brilliant colours, full of delightful prospects. Here is a soldier who was waiting, with a heavy heart, to suffer and die in battle. But suddenly the luck has changed. There is news! The war is over and everyone bursts out singing! He will go home after all! The sparrows in the ploughland were crouching in terror of the kestrel. But she has gone; and they fly pell-mell up the hedgerow, frisking, chattering and perching where they will. The bitter winter had all the country in its grip. The hares on the down, stupid and torpid with cold, were resigned to sinking further and further into the freezing heart of snow and silence. But now — who would have dreamt it? — the thaw is trickling, the great tit is ringing his bell from the top of a bare lime tree, the earth is scented; and the hares bound and skip in the warm wind. Hopelessness and reluctance are blown away like a fog and the dumb solitude where they crept, a place desolate as a crack in the ground, opens like a rose and stretches to the hills and the sky.

Most animals can’t see red

And some animals can see even more colours again.



  • So many animals perceive the world extensively through sent.
  • Tristram Wyatt, The smelly mystery of the human pheromone
    • Smell was the hardest of the senses to crack, and the Nobel Prize awarded to Richard Axel and Linda Buck was only awarded in 2004 for their discovery of how smell works. It's really hard, but in essence, nerves from the brain go up into the nose and on these nerves exposed in the nose to the outside air are receptors, and odor molecules coming in on a sniff interact with these receptors, and if they bond, they send the nerve a signal which goes back into the brain.
    • Smelly underarms comes not from secretions, but from bacteria growing on armpit hairs. If you want to reduce BO, you can trim your armpit hairs.
  • Tags: #[[accessing enlightenment]]
  • Different categorizations of primary odors have been proposed, among others this, which relies on seven primary odors: (with examples)[11][12]
  • Musky- perfumes/aftershave
  • Putrid- rotten eggs
  • Pungent- vinegar
  • Camphoraceous- mothballs
  • Ethereal- dry cleaning fluid
  • Floral- roses
  • Pepperminty- mint gum
  • Although recently progress has been made, the idea of primary perceptions is disputed, and more so probably the concept of primary odors.

They get information on their macro environment from smell.

  • Robert Bakker, Raptor Red, p189.
    • Raptor Red pauses to catch her breath. The mountain air takes getting used to. She knows that they are traveling north. North is the direction she and her original mate came from three and a half long years ago. Now she and her sister and the two chicks are going north involuntarily. it's the only direction that seems free of acrocanthosaur hordes. A week after Raptor Red lured the female acro to her death in the surf, three more family groups of acros showed up on the beach. It was too much for Raptor Red and her sister to deal with. Winds from the north were free of acro scent, so the raptor pack went north.


Many animals can feel the vibrations of the ground.


  • What's the sleeping pattern? This influences the events of the day.
  • If youre telling a story you only need to properly mention it a few times then just roll with it.

They know all the players in the ecosystem

  • They know their characteristics, and their predators. When they detect a sound or smell, they will assess it next to their catalogue of animals they know. New smells create anxiety.
  • Their place in the ecosystem determines their attitude too.

Perception of time and the world

  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • One watch succeeded another through the day, though how the rabbits judged the passing of the time is something that civilized human beings have lost the power to feel. Creatures that have neither clocks nor books are alive to all manner of knowledge about time and the weather; and about direction too, as we know from their extraordinary migratory and homing journeys. The changes in the warmth and dampness of the soil, the falling of the sunlight patches, the altering movement of the beans in the light wind, the direction and strength of the air currents along the ground — all these were perceived by the rabbit awake.

They would intuitively know basic phenomoea

Like the wind, and slope of the earth. Where water would be and how wet the earth is.

Perceiving patterns

  • They have knowledge about the organic and non organic patterns in their environment. For example seeing a beetle that only comes to dead bodies is ominous, perhaps a sign of active predators, and the creature would recognize that.
  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • Fiver made no reply and Hazel went back to the field. The day was certainly not one to encourage foreboding. By ni-Frith it was so hot that the lower part of the field was humid. The air was heavy with thick, herbal smells, as though it were already late June; the water-mint and marjoram, not yet flowering, gave off scent from their leaves and here and there an early meadow-sweet stood in bloom. The chiff-chaff was busy all morning, high in a silver birch near the abandoned holes across the dip; and from deep in the copse, somewhere by the disused well, came the Beautiful song of the blackcap.

hyper aware of the daily weather, and seasons

  • Richard Adams, Watership Down
    • Almost all animals are disturbed by the approach of thunder, which oppresses them with its mounting tension and breaks the natural rhythm by which they live.

Aware of the changing earth

climate change, invasive species, and habitat destruction are extinction drivers, which animals may notice through immense changes in their local ecosystem.


  • Imagine being a deer living in Siberia, and WWII flares up.
  • Previously, you avoid the clearings that humans make, and the most that you see of them is when you stand on the edge of a forest, and you can see them walking between their buildings, and into vehicles. Sometimes one would approach the forest, and walk a short way in to find wood, but at this point you would be at a safe distance as you know that they may also shoot at you.
  • So you keep your distance.
  • Then, seemingly for no reason, the human world goes crazy. New men with different coloured clothes and a different smell move in with larger, noisier vehicles, set buildings on fire, and make so, so much noise through shouts, screams, gunshots, explosions, and vehicles. The previous men move into the forest, and you retreat deeper into the forest. Eventually you might return, and see trees cracked open, and frozen bodies littering the forest floor.

What are their concerns?

What are their everyday concerns? Incoming predators, getting food, etc. This influences their thinking. These are just as serious to them as earning money, car accidents, getting fired, going on holidays, etc. is for us.

Size of animals

Who is larger, who is smaller? It's important. Both within and between species.

Getting eaten

Imagine: Every time you go outside, you have to run from cover to cover. When you're home, you must have multiple exits in case a killer comes to eat you and your family.

This is the real situation of most of our direct ancestors, who were too low on the food chain to walk out in the open.

Of course animals like squirrels and rabbits still live this way. Their bodies have evolved wide eyes on the sides of their head to widen their field of view. They're skittish

can't just spend the night out in the open. They'll get killed. This is why they build burrows, and is another thing that makes travelling suspenseful and dangerous in a story.

They may get lucky if they encounter a predator, but it’s already eaten.


They take things like building their burrows very seriously, like we do building our tents or houses.


An animal is only as big as much food it has. Birds sizes are pretty strictly determined by their food. Back in the day where plants grew easier due to more co2, all of the animals would have gotten bigger in size.

Changing biomes

Hugely different feel going from enclosed to uninclosed canopy places. The one down the bush is an example.