Do animals actually innately fear humans?

Or at least more so than they do any other random animal of the same approximate size? It’s a theme I’ve heard often enough that animals, particularly mammals and especially predators, have a particular wariness of humans. But, assuming the animals hasn’t had past negative experiences with humans, is there any reason to believe this is true? Would a mountain lion treat a human any differently than, say, a largish ape? Or is the whole idea just mythology?

I know that some lower animals have no fear of humans, most famously the fauna on the Galapagos Islands. But I’m asking about lions, tigers and bears.

We covered this in a previous thread.

The problem is that you are asking about lions tigers and bears ( oh my), but it is impossible to find a lion, tiger or bear that hasn’t had at least 10, 000 years of experience being hunted by humans. As such your question is impossible to answer.

What we can say is that in every environment that has been encountered where the animals have had no experience of humans the animals have absolutley no fear of humans. Peopel have been able to simply walk up and hit them on the head. That allows to come to a very strong conclusion that animals have absolutely no innate fear of humans.

Heh… my search skills must be lacking. You’ll have to trust me when I say I tried.

Here in Panama, Barro Colorado Island is a reserve that has been protected from hunting since 1925. Most animals are far less wary on the island than they are on the mainland, where there is still quite a bit of poaching. Some, such as coatis and agoutis, are quite blase about humans. Others are a bit skittish but far less so than on the mainland. The larger predators have such large home ranges that at least some cross back and forth to the mainland by swimming, so don’t show significantly greater tameness.

Wariness around humans iwould appear to be largely a learned behavior in higher vertebrates, but it may take many decades for that wariness to stop being passed down.

Some humans smell like carnivores. This *could * result in caution among prey animals. However, not all animals rely that strongly on a sense of smell, nor do all humans nessesarily smell like carnivores.

What does scare prey animals is when the humans stalk them, as if they are hunting them- usually we just want to get close to look at them, sure, but we act just like a predator then. You can have a small mammal that is blase about humans, and come right close- but if you start to pay serious attention and act like you want to get too close, they’ll scamper away.

It’s not size- rabbits and squirrels will ignore bovines for the most part. However, bovines don’t 'stalk" them, and their breath smells like a plant-eater.

Carnivores have a particular smell? Does it come from eating meat, or what?

Not that I notice in humnas, but Vegans claim that Vegans smell “sweet” and Carni-humans smell rank.

Of course, to me a rabbit has nicer breath (and poop) than my cat.

Wow…those animals have longer lifespans than I thought :slight_smile:

I’d like to see a double-blind study done on this.

So would I. :smiley:

Well, what you eat can affect various traits (color, taste, etc.) of stuff like semen. I’ve read in multiple places that eating lots of meat can make semen taste bitter, and eating lots of fruit makes the taste more pallatable to the uhm… partner.

It’s possible that it also effects stuff like the smell of your sweat.

In any case, when I was at Philmont, most of the animals weren’t particularly afraid of humans. The hares wouldn’t mind you much until you were close enough to them to make being stepped on a primary concern. We also had deer wander through our campsite (as in, we’re all sitting around the fire waiting for the coffee to heat up, and the deer just walked through our circle and stared at us curiously as they walked past). The squirrels there go beyond being not afraid of humans and will use teamwork to distract us and steal our food, one cracker at a time.

The bears, of course, are very afraid of humans at Philmont, but that’s because that’s how the camp staff like it. Whenever a bear gets near any of the campsites, staffers go out and chase it off with pots and pans and spoons (which works with the bears in the area, but would only get someone eaten if tried with a grizzley bear).

I had a similar thought the other day when I saw a squirrel chase off a group of birds. The birds were frightened by the squirrel despite the fact that in the last 10,000+ years I’m reasonably certain that no bird has ever been hunted or eaten by a squirrel.
Its a different question from the OP, and I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but perhaps an answer to one question will solve the other.

Don’t know if the OP includes birds or just mammals. I can say by experience that most species get used to the presence of man. Not crows and ravens. They are so damn wary you can never approach them. Colibri can probably confirm.

I do remember that my dad, who grew up in Alaska, noted that bears that had been feeding on salmon tasted fishy & nasty, but that berry-fed bear were tasty & sweet. And, that salmon eating bear smelled like salmon- but that could have just been their fur, of course.

Maybe at an instinctual level they can’t tell the difference between a squirrel and a cat, as if any quick-moving quadruped mammal above a certain size is regarded as a potential predator from which they must flee.

Wow, those are some tough carnivorous fish!
I know, I read it wrong, but I was still impressed.

Not done double-blind, but I did a mini-study looking at the effects of diet on the taste of ejaculate. My gf mentioned that she read (in Cosmo?) that a male’s ejaculate tasted different depending on diet. For a few weeks, I ate vegies only on some days, meat on others, pasta on others.

She decided that there were subtle differences, but she also noted that if it were a true double-blind test, any difference might dissapear. We also realized that the short length of dietary change (a day) might be a problem.

It was a grueling coupla weeks, but it was in the name of science, so there. :wink:

Wow. That’s interesting. Because my experience, at least here in the Bay Area, is that Vegans smell rank and omnivorous humans smell as if they bathe regularly.

OK OK!!! it’s a joke!! But like all jokes, it is based in part on…

Can we please see some evidence for this claim? Any evidence at all?

And can we please see some evidence for this claim too.

If you read the thread I linked to above you will see that naive animals not only don’t get disturbed when stalked, they don’t even get disturbed when their companion are killed in front of them.

Similarly most people never see most animals. They simply vanish as soon as humans come blundering within a hundred yards. Their caution has nothing whatsoever to do with the mode of approach.

So can we possibly see any evidence for this claim that animals show more fear if stalked than if approached to the same distance by someone doing cartwheels and singing the “Star Spangled Banner”

All my experience tells me that it is completely untrue. Animals fear being approached by humans regardless of the mode of that approach.

Squirrels routinely huntand eat small birds as the photo posted by Burrido proves so graphically. They aren’t fantastic predators but they will eat meat when they can catch it. It’s almost certain that any bird in your area has seen squirrels hunting and eating birds.

Birds are frightened of squirrels with good reason.