Do mammals have instincts?

My dad, and a few of his friends were argueing against my brother and I, that mammels have insticts. I have heard that they do not. I know that reptiles do, but do mammels?

Define what you mean by instinct, but in common usage, yes.

Sure they do. Baby humans are animals, and they have instincts to suckle, to grab your finger, to close their eyes to the light, to smile just before you take the picture, etc.

In common usage I can’t think of any animal that doesn’t have a huge variety of instincts. Watch any unfortunate human being beat up. Instinct drives you to tuck in your head and cover up with your arms.

If you put any newborn mammal in the wild, it would die, no doubt.

If you put a snake that just hatched in the wild, it would live, If you put a tarantula, or an insect in the wild after it was bron it would live.

Mammals have reactions,not instints. It they are getting light in thier eyes they close them, because it hurts. But ehy couldnt survive because they dont have any idea how to do anything, they are taught everything.

Here is a link that seems to support Nick’s point quite well :smiley:

Meaningless semantical game. That’s what I was afraid of when I first saw this.

Nick112, you’ve never had a cat, have you?

Seriously, mammals exhibit a lot of learned behavior, yes, but there are still also lots of hard-wired actions as well. With cats, there are very definite, instinctual hunting actions and reactions, but they also have to be taught to be really effective hunters.


The problem that you have with your point is that you are using “instincts” in a way that describes much more complex behaviors than the term usually refers too. Previous posters have given perfectly good examples of instincts, such as suckling, that can be easily demonstrated by human infants.

However, you seem to be using the term instinct to refer to a set of behaviors that allow a newborn to survive independently of its parents. This is a very different and much more complex question than the one that you asked.

Yes, mammals have instincts and so do you and your dad!

Wow! I have some many problems with what you’ve said. [ol][li]You make it sound like “in the wild” is one place. There are oceans, deserts, wet lands, dry lands. A tarantula or insect could not survive in all of these.[]Drop a baby tarantula into Baby’s room. Baby tarantula’s instincts will not help against Mom, her broom, and Mom’s instinctive desire to squash baby tarantula’s in Baby’s room.[]Insects like bees, termites and ants do not leave the nest until they are adults. Baby bees would not survive “in the wild”.[/ol]Instincts evolve to help all animals (including us) survive in the environment they are most likely to grow up in.[/li]
To say that we (humans or mammals) do not have instincts is to indulge in vanity.