In the wild, it is rare for those outside of the scientific community to see natural born enemies become best friends, but through the magic of the internet, this sight has become almost commonplace. What makes a dog and a cat love each other? What would cause a lion to snuggle up to a pig? It’s easy to observe these types of relationships when the animals are domesticated, but they also occur in the wild, and the scientific name for them is “interspecies relationships.” So, how do natural born enemies become best friends? The answer may surprise you.
As it turns out, there are multiple reasons for these unlikely animal couplings, and the reasons vary depending upon a variety of factors. Just like in human lives, vastly different relationships are formed throughout the animal kingdom. Some are pure businesslike transactions; some are ongoing business relationships, and some are based on social bonding and physical affection.
A toad and tarantula who become life mates have a very different motive than do animals who form bonds in captivity. In the wild, the reasons for interspecies relationships are incredibly complex, requiring a level of coordination and communication between the animals that’s almost shocking.
For example, in the case of the tarantula and the toad, two species which would normally represent a predator and its prey, they sometimes manage to form what scientists call a “mutually beneficial relationship.” While the tarantula would most often gobble the toad down for dinner, at least one pair has been observed living together in complete harmony. The tarantula kills most natural predators of the toad, and the toad, in return, eats ants and other pesky critters who would otherwise feast upon the tarantula’s eggs. This symbiotic relationship has been going on for a long time because the far-ranging benefits received by both animals outweigh the short-term benefits realized by just one meal.
Now, obviously, the two can’t discuss this business relationship and shake hands or sign a contract over the agreement, but what they can do is adapt to be able to communicate with each other across the boundaries of their species. This type of exchange also requires an enormous amount of trust on the part of the animal who would normally be the prey.
In domestic situations, the motives are different. Rather than forming a business partnership, these animals become best friends when their need for social bonding supersedes their other instincts. This type of interaction usually occurs when two animals have grown up together from birth, but can also evolve when the two animals are together a lot and not many other animals are around. Obviously the need for social bonding is an incredibly intense instinct.
There can also be sets of animal friends. This situation most often occurs in animal sanctuaries. When animals are together in groups they can learn to adapt to their environment and form bonds with the other animals who live there whether or not those animals would normally be prey.
What causes natural born enemies to become best friends? Whether the reason is a mutually beneficial business exchange or a social need for bonding, the results are always adorable. See the video below for some of the cutest animal BFFs.
By: Rebecca Savastio