• Question: Can animals have hobbies?

    Asked by caitlin carr to Barbastelle Bat, Eurasian Otter, European Flat Oyster, Glow Worm, Lundy Cabbage, Scaly Cricket, Scottish Wildcat, Spot Fly, Strapwort on 23 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Scottish Wildcat

      Scottish Wildcat answered on 23 Nov 2017:

      Not quite – A hobby is something that you do regularly just for your own enjoyment.

      Wildcats learn by playing as kittens, but they do this as a matter of survival because if they don’t learn to hunt they will starve.

      This is a serious problem for Wildcat conservation breeding because Wildcats born in a Zoo don’t know how to hunt for their own food unless they learn from their mothers. The captive breeding program does take this into account, but some studies suggest that up to 80% of Wildcats that are bred in captivity would die within a few months after being released into the wild because they couldn’t compete for territory and for prey with the existing population of Wildcats and feral or hybrid cats already in the area. Although this might sound bad, natural selection would favour the Wildcats bred in captivity that could survive and these cats will produce kittens better adapted to live in the harsh conditions.

      An alternative strategy might be to capture Wildcats in areas where they have a lot of competition from feral domestic cats and hybrid Wildcats, to areas where there are known to be breeding populations of Scottish Wildcats, but this is not as easy as it might sound because catching a Wildcat requires a lot of skill and experience and a great deal of care to avoid distressing the animals which, as you might expect, don’t like being put in a cage!

    • Photo: Eurasian Otter

      Eurasian Otter answered on 24 Nov 2017:

      We don’t really have hobbies, that’s more of a human trait but we are very curious animals! We really like playing with sticks and stones, and often can be found rolling around near rivers. You can also find young otters playing with their prey!

    • Photo: Barbastelle Bat

      Barbastelle Bat answered on 27 Nov 2017:

      Animals don’t really have hobbies as such. Most of the time they are concerned only about how to survive the next day! Some animals that have plenty of resources around may engage in behaviours that aren’t necessarily important for survival or reproduction, such as play (e.g. surfing dolphins!). We don’t know whether bats ‘play’ just for the fun of it, but I suspect probably not.

    • Photo: Glow Worm

      Glow Worm answered on 29 Nov 2017:

      Our hobbies include snail-chasing and glowing at each other.