Territory (animal)

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Marking red deer

The territory of an animal is often also called territory and describes a habitat that an animal or a group of animals defends against conspecifics through territorial behavior . This prevents them from entering or even becoming permanent residents.

Territories can be marked by setting territorial markers - for example by means of fragrances ( pheromones ) or through utterances (singing); For example, dogs and cats urinate on plants or large stones. The racing crab Ocypode saratan, on the other hand, marks its territory in a visible form by filling up small piles of sand.

A distinction must be made between hunting areas that are regularly visited by several individuals. In contrast to the hunting ground, they are not actively defended, so that the grazing areas of rival animal groups can overlap. For example, territorial fights or after the death of a territory owner can change the boundaries of the territory and the grazing area. A further distinction is the area of action .


A male of mouthbrooding cichlid Copadichromis waiting in the center of its crater-like sand nest to spawn ready female; only the immediate nest area is defended against competitors

A territory represents an accumulation of resources for the animal. It offers it food, space (possibly also shelter, nesting opportunity) and potential partners. This also explains the often stubborn defense against potential competitors. Species in which males and females live in separate territories usually give up this separation temporarily during the mating season (example: tigers ).

There are six different types of territory:

  • Single area
  • Group area
  • Breeding ground
  • Hunting ground
  • Breeding ground
  • Sleeping area

The size of the territory depends primarily on the species of the animal and its status in comparison to neighboring conspecifics and is often controlled by the territory owner. The young are raised in the area, and it is often used for hunting.

Even pets have grounds. These are then mostly blocks of houses or streets in the vicinity of the apartment. Hangovers also sometimes mark an apartment by splashing urine on the home furnishings or grinding their claws on door frames, releasing pheromones from the balls of their feet.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Immelmann (ed.): Behavioral research. Supplementary volume on Grzimek's animal life , Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1974, p. 635.
  2. ^ Karl Eduard Linsenmair : Construction and signaling function of the sand pyramid of the riding crab Ocypode saratan Forsk. (Decapoda Brachyura Ocypodidae). In: Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. Volume 24, No. 4, 1967, pp. 403-456, doi: 10.1111 / j.1439-0310.1967.tb01238.x
  3. ZooRoyal GmbH: When cats scratch | Zooroyal counselor . In: Zooroyal Counselor . February 11, 2015 ( zooroyal.de [accessed December 2, 2016]).