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The world is as you see it…

When considering animal behavior, it’s important to think about and understand how animals perceive their environment.  Most people observe behavior and immediately think they understand what the animals are doing. This comes from the constant necessity of having to interpret human behavior.  Most people think they know what an animal is thinking and what it is responding to.  But animals live in remarkably different sensory and experiential worlds from humans, i.e. they have a different Umwelt.The easiest way to understand this idea of the Umwelt is through known differences between animals and humans.  Bats, for example, respond to sounds over a range that we cannot hear; many insects smell odors that we cannot detect; snakes and many other species see parts of the visual spectrum that we can measure only with the aid of instruments. But there is much more to it than this.  Other animals also receive, detect patterns, see color and process information in totally different ways from us. We cannot be sure that we know what they are responding to until we have conducted studies on the sensory systems they are using. So, never assume you know what the animal is responding to, never infer cause and effect without some evidence (i.e. a real test with a reasonable sample size).

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