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Animal Behaviour

Grade 8 Science Worksheets

Animals, just like humans, exhibit a wide range of behaviors. These behaviors can be divided into two main categories: innate and learned. Innate behaviors are those that animals are born with, such as a bird’s ability to fly or a fish’s ability to swim.

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Animal Behaviour - Grade 8 Science Worksheet PDF

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Learned behaviors are those that animals acquire through experience or observation, such as a dog learning to sit on command.

One of the most exciting areas of animal behavior is the study of animal communication. Animals use various methods to communicate with each other, including vocalizations, body language, and chemical signals. For example, wolves use howling to communicate with other pack members, while bees use a “waggle dance” to tell other bees where to find food.

Another important area of animal behavior is social behavior. Many animals live in groups and have complex social structures. For example, chimpanzees live in communities with a clear hierarchy, while ants live in colonies with a division of labor.

As you learn about animal behavior, remember that every species is unique and has its own unique behaviors. This is what makes the study of animal behavior so exciting and endlessly fascinating!

Innate Behaviour

Innate or instinctual behavior refers to the actions and reactions that animals are born with and do not have to learn. These behaviors are typically hard-wired into an animal’s genetics and are not influenced by experience or environment.

Examples of innate behaviors in animals include a bird’s ability to fly, a fish’s ability to swim, and a spider’s ability to spin a web. Innate behaviors are often essential for the survival and reproduction of the species and are typically observed in all species members.

  • Migration: Many animals, such as birds and sea turtles, have an innate ability to migrate to specific locations based on the seasons. This behavior helps them to find food and suitable breeding grounds.
  • Nest-building: Some animals, such as birds and beavers, have an innate ability to build nests. They use specific materials and construct the nests in specific ways without ever learning how to do it.
  • Camouflage: Many animals, such as the chameleon and the octopus, can change their color to blend in with their surroundings. This behavior helps them to avoid predators and catch prey.
  • Reflexes: Many animals have innate reflexes that are automatic responses to certain stimuli. For example, when a baby animal is born, it will automatically start to nurse when it comes into contact with its mother’s nipples.
  • Defense mechanisms: Some animals have innate defense mechanisms, such as a skunk’s ability to spray a foul-smelling liquid when threatened.
  • Mating behaviors: Many animals have innate behaviors related to mating, such as the courtship rituals of certain birds or the dominance displays of certain mammals.

Learned Behaviour

Learned behavior refers to actions and reactions that animals acquire through experience or observation. These behaviors are not innate or hard-wired into an animal’s genetics, but rather developed through interactions with the environment.

There are two types of learned behaviors: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

1. Classical conditioning is a type of learning where an animal learns to associate one stimulus with another. A famous example of this is Ivan Pavlov’s experiment with dogs, where he conditioned them to salivate at the sound of a bell by ringing the bell every time he fed them.

2. Operant conditioning is a type of learning where an animal learns to associate a behavior with a consequence. This can be positive reinforcement, where an animal is rewarded for a behavior and is more likely to repeat it, or negative reinforcement, where an animal is punished for a behavior and is less likely to repeat it.

Examples of learned behaviors in animals include:

A dog learning to fetch or sit on command through positive reinforcement training
A cat learning to avoid a specific area of the house after being scolded for scratching the furniture
A parrot learns to mimic words or phrases through classical conditioning.
It’s worth noting that some behaviors that might appear as learned may have some innate component, such as a dog being able to learn to fetch a ball but not being able to learn to fly.

  • Training: Many animals can be trained to perform specific tasks or tricks, such as a dog learning to fetch or a seal learning to balance a ball on its nose. These behaviors are typically learned through positive reinforcement training.
  • Imprinting: Some animals, such as ducks and geese, form a strong attachment to the first moving object they see after hatching. This behavior is known as imprinting and is a form of classical conditioning.
  • Habituation: Some animals, such as city pigeons, learn to ignore certain stimuli, such as loud noises or frequent human activity. This behavior is known as habituation and is a form of learned indifference.
  • Tool use: Some animals, such as chimpanzees and crows, have been observed using tools to solve problems or obtain food. This behavior is learned through trial and error and requires cognitive flexibility.
  • Problem-solving: Some animals, such as dolphins and elephants, have been observed solving problems and learning new tasks through trial and error. These behaviors require cognitive flexibility and are examples of learned problem-solving.
  • Foraging: Some animals, such as bears and raccoons, learn to forage for food in new or changing environments. They learn to find new food sources and extract it from their source, through trial and error.
  • Fear responses: Some animals can learn to associate certain stimuli with negative consequences, such as a loud noise with an explosion, and develop a fear response. This type of learning is known as classical conditioning.

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About Social Behaviour in Animals

Social behavior refers to animals’ interactions and relationships with each other within a group or society. This can include behaviors related to communication, cooperation, competition, and aggression.

Many animals live in social groups, such as packs of wolves, herds of elephants, and colonies of ants. These groups often have complex social structures and hierarchies, with certain individuals having more dominance or influence than others. For example, in a wolf pack, an alpha wolf typically leads the pack and makes decisions for the group.

Animals use various methods to communicate and interact with each other, such as vocalizations, body language, and chemical signals. For example, chimpanzees use different vocalizations to communicate different messages, such as warning calls to alert others of danger, or grooming behaviors to build social bonds.

Social behaviors play an important role in the survival and reproduction of a species. For example, cooperation within a group can improve the chances of finding food or defending against predators, while aggressive behaviors can establish dominance and territory.

Social behavior is not just limited to animals living in groups, even solitary animals engage in social behavior, such as a lion or a bear marking their territory to avoid conflicts with other individuals.

  • Communication: Many animals use vocalizations, body language, and chemical signals to communicate with each other. For example, birds use songs to attract a mate, while primates use different facial expressions to convey different emotions.
  • Cooperation: Many animals work together to achieve a common goal. For example, meerkats take turns keeping watch while the others forage for food, and dolphins work together to herd fish into a tight group to make hunting easier.
  • Dominance behavior: Many animals establish a hierarchy within their social group, with dominant individuals having more power and influence. For example, in a wolf pack, the alpha wolf is the leader of the pack, and in a chimpanzee troop, the alpha male has the most control over resources and mating opportunities.
  • Parenting behavior: Many animals take care of their young, such as a mother bird feeding her chicks or a father lion protecting his cubs.
  • Aggression: Many animals use aggression to defend their territory, defend their young, or compete for resources such as food and mates. For example, a male deer will engage in aggressive behaviors such as fighting with other males during mating season to establish dominance and attract females.
  • Play behavior: Many animals engage in play behavior, especially young animals. Play behavior can serve as an opportunity for animals to practice and perfect important skills, such as hunting or fighting.
  • Group Living: Many animals live in groups, such as herds of wildebeest, schools of fish, and flocks of birds. These groups provide protection from predators, increase the chances of finding food, and opportunities for social interaction and communication.


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