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Communication Among Animals

by Ron Kurtus

Communication is the transfer of information. Animals often communicate among their own species. Sometimes they even try to communicate with other species. Most communication is done through body language. Sounds and odors are also means to communicate. Humans can learn from how animals communicate among each other, since the same methods apply in a subtle manner among humans.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Body language

The most obvious body language you see between animals are threatening postures. Dogs will show their teeth and cats will arch their back to make themselves appear bigger. Each species has postures that warn others in their species that the animal is ready to fight. Other species also recognize these signs.

A pack of wolves will communicate among each other about the tactics they are using when surrounding a prey. Some scientists claim they are only using their instincts, but to a careful observer, it is obvious that there communication and teamwork going on.

When young animals play, they use various postures and body language to let the other youngsters know it is play.

Sounds and odors

Animals also communicate through sounds and odors.


Elephants trumpet in a very low tone that humans cannot hear but can feel. They are letting their presence known to other elephants up to 5 miles or 7.5 kilometers away. They might let others know of a nearby watering spot.

Spider monkeys have certain calls to indicate a predator is in the area. Sometimes a young monkey will make such a call, to the discernment of the elders.

A beaver will loudly slap its tail when danger approaches, warning the other beavers to seek safety.


Animals often mark their territories with smelly urine. Odors also indicate when a female is sexually receptive.

Humans can learn

Although humans do most of their communication through the use of words and obvious gestures, much can be learned from observing the subtle communications of animals.

Body language, the tone of a person's voice and body odors can provide considerable amount of information about the person's intentions, mood and even health. Often people react to these subtle forms of communication without realizing that there has been some transfer of information.


Animals often communicate among each other in a subtle manner. Most communication is done through body language, but sounds and odors are also used to communicate. Humans can learn from how animals communicate, since the same methods apply in a subtle manner among humans.

Observe the world around you

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Animal Communication Project - Project dedicated to the science of communication among animals

Animal Communication -

Communication Resources


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Top-rated books on Animal Communication

Top-rated books on Dog Communication

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