domestic animal

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old miniature schnauzer in an apartment
The guinea pig is a popular pet in Europe .

Domesticated animals are species that are domesticated from wild animals . They are bred by humans for their usefulness (e.g. as farm animals or for scientific purposes) or for pleasure (as pets ) .


Animals were kept separate from their wild ancestors in order to obtain animal raw materials and food products more easily and sustainably than is possible through hunting. Later the animals were domesticated because of their pulling and carrying capacity. The breeding for pleasure has its beginnings in the aftermath of the birth of Christ. In the 20th century, the use as an experimental animal was another reason for breeding (see animal experiment ).

In animal breeding , the physical characteristics of the animals are greatly changed. Some typical abilities of the wild animal have been bred away or have been lost, while other abilities have been strengthened or transformed through breeding. Domestic animals are often so different from the parent species that they are placed in their own species or subspecies. Many pets have lost the ability to survive in the wild. Others, like the house cat , can easily switch to a human-independent way of life.

The wild animals caught and kept for use by humans , such as working elephants , ornamental fish and birds , are not considered to be domestic animals in this sense, as they have not been bred.

The longest history as a pet, the dog whose domestication at least until after the Pleistocene v about 13,000. Goes back; however, there are indications that have been interpreted to the effect that this was done 100,000 years ago. However, this time span has been questioned in more recent studies, as it is based on pure extrapolations from the molecular clock . ( More on this ). Cats have been known to be domesticated for at least 9,500 years today. Cat bones were found together with human bones from this period in Mesopotamia , Southeast Anatolia and Jordan , domestication can be shown in Cyprus for this period . The use of pets by pigs , cattle and sheep dates back to about 8000 BC. Started in the Middle East . From the 4th millennium BC The pigeons were bred in the Middle East and the mulberry silk moth in China . Breeding of the horse began around the 4th millennium BC. In Eurasia . In China, goldfish were bred for ornament from the 9th century . The budgie has been bred since the 19th century . The breeding of rodents and flies for experimental purposes began in the 20th century.

Borderline cases

In order to be kept as pets, animals must have certain physical and behavioral characteristics. Since the beginning of domestic animal husbandry, there have been repeated attempts to domesticate other species without fully becoming domestic animals.

Examples of this are different types of deer ( elk , fallow deer , red deer ). At least in the fallow deer, a transitional form has been achieved in the game. Scheduled breeding resulted in pet traits here.

In many animal species that have recently been kept as pets ( here are a few examples), phenomena of domestication (color and coat mutations, changes in behavior) occur without it being possible to speak of complete domestication.

Domestic animals in the zoological classification

Biological species names can come from both wild and domesticated individuals and populations. This means that scientific species names that have been established on the basis of a domestic animal are just as valid names for the corresponding species. Depending on whether a species was established on the basis of a domestic animal or a wild animal, the correct name for it is which was published first (priority rule). If they belong to the same species, this name is then to be used for all members of this species - each species may only have one scientific name.

This rule has caused confusion in numerous cases, especially when comparing or contrasting wild and domesticated forms or populations. It is necessary in these cases to somehow distinguish the wild and the domesticated form, i.e. H. also to be named differently. The zoological nomenclature code does not offer a solution here. While regional populations of wild animals , which differ in various characteristics, are marked as subspecies , the habitat of domestic animals does not represent a geographically uniform area. The criteria for the breakdown of subspecies can therefore not be applied here. Domestic animals are to be regarded as a subunit of a wild type for which the rank of a subspecies should (as a rule) not be applied. However, other ranks below the species are not recorded and regulated by the code.

For some domestic animal species, including the most important, the name of the wild form was now exceptionally fixed as a scientific name, contrary to the priority rule, by a decision in 2003. According to this, another scientific name should be valid for these species when referring to wild populations. This is also to be applied to the domestic form of these species "if they are indistinguishable".

The problem of different names for pets and their wild relatives or ancestors is not finally solved. According to this decision, it is permissible to use different names for wild forms and domestic animals of the same species. For example, it is permissible to name the domestic cattle Bos taurus (although it is descended from the aurochs Bos primigenius ). However, many authors prefer to use the same scientific name for both forms. Various methods are used here to name the shape of the pet. Numerous authors name the domestic animal form as a subspecies (with trinomials), e.g. B. the domestic dog is then referred to as Canis lupus familiaris (i.e. the actually available species name Canis familiaris is avoided). In other cases, pets are referred to as "forma" of wild species. For example, the domestic pigeon is then given the name Columba livia forma domestica ; this is then also applied to feral populations ( city ​​pigeons ).

In the case of domestic animals, the term breed is also used to differentiate between different forms within the species .

Pets in Germany

According to a study by the GFK in 2015 for the 22 most important countries worldwide, over half of the people had at least one pet. The highest proportions of pet owners are in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, while the proportion is significantly lower in Asian countries. A third (33%) of the world's population has a dog, a quarter (23%) a cat, an eighth (12%) fish and 6% birds and 6% other pets. In Germany alone, 9 million dogs live as pets. Germans spend 9 billion euros on their pets every year. However, 300,000 pets end up in homes every year because the owners no longer want or can no longer look after them. Allegedly, 60 million fish also die in German aquariums, mainly due to incorrect keeping.

Pets in Germany (in millions)
2000 2016 2018
Cats 6.8 13.4 14.8
dogs 5 8.6 9.4
Small animals 4.8 5.0 5.5
Ornamental birds 4.9 4.6 4.8
Aquariums 3 2.0 1.9
Terrariums --- 0.7 1.0

Societal and social importance

Pets make an important contribution to the health and cohesion of society. This affects both the animal keeper himself and other members of society. An improvement in the state of health is associated with keeping pets; 68% of dog owners and 61% of cat owners speak of an improved state of health through keeping animals. With regard to> their satisfaction with life, almost all dog owners (88%) and cat owners (83%) feel better.

Recent studies from the US and Australia show that pet owners have more contact with their neighbors. Dogs also use various therapeutic approaches successfully. In addition, the special abilities of the sensory organs of animals are used to discover diseases, drugs or other things that are not accessible to our human senses.

Economical meaning

The economic importance of the pet market should not be underestimated. The annual turnover / expenditure for the entire German economy is estimated at a total of € 10.7 billion. Of this, more than half (52%) are keeping dogs and more than a third (36.5%) are keeping cats. The employment of 210,000 full-time jobs (full-time equivalents) is also linked to the pet market. The expenses account for more than half

- Pet requirements € 5.7 billion
- Pet health € 2.6 billion
- Pet insurance € 630 million
- For other services such as pet breeding, care, burial, hairdressing, dog schools, etc. approx. € 1.3 billion
- The expenses for animal shelters and dog taxes are estimated at over half a billion euros.

This means that keeping pets contributes 0.35% to the German gross domestic product. More than a third of the dogs (32%) and cats (37%) acquired come from animal shelters.

Environmental issues

A study by the Swiss company ESU, which specializes in life cycle assessments, showed that keeping an animal, especially in the case of large animals such as horses, can have a relevant influence on the individual environmental pollution. In relation to driving a car, keeping horses causes annual CO 2 emissions that correspond to driving 21,500 kilometers in a car. For dogs, the comparative value corresponds to a car journey of almost 3700 kilometers, and for cats and rabbits around 1,400 kilometers.

Animal welfare organizations and critics against keeping pets

Animal rights organizations such as B. PETA are principally against keeping pets. The following quote describes PETA's view: "In a perfect world all animals could live freely and meet their needs." But since there are already so many domesticated animals in our society, it is our responsibility to look after them take care of. For this reason, PETA is in favor of all people, never buying an animal from a pet shop or from a breeder, as this inevitably promotes the overpopulation of animals and the "production" often takes place under cruel conditions. You should also have your animal companions neutered. When you are ready to take in an animal, the first and only step should always be to the animal shelter.

See also


Web links

Commons : Pets  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Pet  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


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