Have you ever heard that “birds of a feather flock together”? Turns out, birds aren’t the only animals that display such social behavior. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the animals that live in groups throughout the world.
What You'll Learn Today
Animals That Live in A Group
Wolves are one of the most well-known group animals. Wolves live in large family groups that typically consist of the mated pair (the alphas) and one or more generations of their young.
Groups of wolves are called packs. The members of the pack live, hunt, eat, travel, fight, and work together. The parents take care of their young until they reach sexual maturity, which can happen within the first year or up to four and a half years after a pup’s birth.
Wolf packs are extremely territorial and will go to great lengths to defend their range, which commonly covers about 14 square miles. Young wolves eventually leave their family group to pair up with other unattached wolves and form their own packs.
Elephants congregate in groups known as herds. These herds are typically made up of adult female elephants and their young, though sometimes adult males come together to form their own herds as well.
Each herd is typically led by the oldest member of the group (known as the matriarch in female herds). When this leader dies, her oldest daughter begins to lead in her place.
The elephants’ female offspring usually stay with the herd they were born into. The male offspring leave to live on their own or form their own herds after the age of 15.
Check out this video to learn more about elephant herds:
Lions are another well-known group-dwelling animal. They congregate in groups called prides, which are primarily made up of females and their cubs and are headed by a resident male.
Lionesses are extremely protective of their pride, often chasing away any outsiders who attempt to infiltrate the group. Young males tend to stay with the group for two or three years before leaving to form their own prides.
Young males who have left their family group but have not yet formed their own are called nomads. They will sometimes pair up with other unattached males to form nomadic pairs until they begin a pride.
Dolphins live in groups called pods. Each pod may comprise anywhere between 2 and 30 individuals.
Dolphins within a pod will help teach not only their young but each other as well. They share skills and information they learn through body language as well as a complex series of whistling and clicking noises.
Sometimes multiple pods will join together to create a “superpod” of hundreds of dolphins. These superpods are always temporary and are formed to make use of particularly promising hunting or mating opportunities.
Bats are unique flying mammals that cluster together in large groups called colonies. Different species of bats group together in different numbers and for different reasons.
Many bats cluster together in groups of hundreds or thousands, while some form colonies that number in the millions. Some are made up of dozens of families and both sexes, while others will only congregate with members of their own family.
In some species, only male or female bats will form colonies, while the other sex remains solitary. Still other species are completely solitary, though this is rare among bats.
Families of meerkats are known as mobs. Mobs may consist of multiple family groups, with a single dominant pair that produces much of the offspring.
Meerkats keep tight social bonds by grooming each other, playing together, and hunting together. They seem to live by the motto “safety in numbers”.
Meerkats live in burrows underground and look out for each other. If a threat is spotted, the meerkat on guard issues a warning cry, and all members of the group make a dash for their burrows until the danger has passed.
Groups of chimpanzees are called troops. They contain up to 150 individuals, which are typically subdivided into smaller groups within the troop.
Both males and females form troops together. Each member of the group has its own responsibilities for protecting and maintaining the troop.
Males within a troop can challenge each other and gain dominance in various ways, including fights and alliances. Females spend most of their time caring for the young of the group.
Groups of gorillas are called troops or bands. These groups consist of a single dominant male, several females, and their young.
The females in the group raise the young, while the male is responsible for protecting the group, making all of the decisions, and mediating disagreements. He maintains close bonds with all of the females through grooming practices.
When the young males of the group reach sexual maturity, they may attempt to challenge the dominant male for the troop, or they will strike out on their own to form their own troops.
Have you ever heard of a “murder of crows”? In addition to this rather deadly-sounding name, groups of crows may also be known simply as flocks.
Crows typically gather in large groups to hunt or roost, especially during the winter. Their collective body heat helps them to stay warm on cold nights.
A murder of crows may consist of anywhere from 200 to several thousand individual birds.
Groups of deer are called herds. Each herd is made up of a male, several females, and all of their young.
Adult male deer claim territories and breeding rights to all the females within their territories. They will fight with intruding males to protect their territories and their families.
Groups of young males that have left their parental territories may join up in “bachelor groups” temporarily, though once they are fully mature they will leave to claim their own territories.
Groups of hyenas are called clans and may consist of up to 80 individuals. Within each clan, smaller hunting parties are formed for the sake of obtaining food.
Hyena clans are dominated by females, with the oldest ones being the most dominant and the youngest ones being most submissive. Males are forced to leave once they reach sexual maturity.
There are different names used to refer to a group of jellyfish. These names are “smack”, “swarm”, and “bloom”.
Some species of jellyfish form intentional groups to protect their young or ensure successful reproduction. Other jellies are not particularly social, but they find themselves “herded” into large groups by the currents of the ocean.
Alligator groups are called congregations, and they primarily form during breeding season. At this time, males and females will come together in large groups to mate.
The rest of the year, male alligators are primarily solitary. Female alligators will sometimes work together to raise their young collectively in groups called pods.
Penguins gather in huge groups known as rafts or colonies. They do so not just for the sake of socializing, but because it’s necessary for survival.
Gathering in groups allows the penguins to protect each other from predators and keep each other warm in the harsh antarctic conditions where they live. Penguin colonies may contain anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand individuals.
15. Honey Bees
Honey bees are well-known social creatures. They live in groups called colonies that consist of up to 100,000 individuals.
Honey bee colonies are headed by a queen, which lives for a few years. The queen is responsible for laying all the eggs in the colony.
Most of the colony is made up of unmated females known as worker bees, which collect nectar, make honey, and care for the young within the colony. There are also a few males in each colony, known as drones, which are responsible for mating with the queen.
Many animals live in social or family groups, and this article only scratches the surface of this topic. Some of the animals that live in these groups include wolves, elephants, dolphins, jellyfish, and honey bees.