Behavior Wisdom (Ferret Wisdom Book 1)

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Once the discussion is done, writing down a biography and personality profile of the cohort helps cement his role in the campaign and provides a strong reference point for later talks about what is or is not appropriate advancement for the cohort. Eidolon : Compared to an animal companion or cohort , an eidolon is a unique type of companion—it is intelligent and loyal to you, and you have absolute power over whether it is present in the material world or banished to its home plane. This means the eidolon is usually willing to take great risks to help you.

The eidolon is a subservient creature whose very nature depends upon your will, so you decide what feats, skill points, ability score increases, and evolutions the eidolon gains as it advances. If your Leadership score improves, just add new followers rather than advancing existing ones. However, if events require advancing a follower such as turning a follower into a cohort to replace a dead cohort , use the same guidelines as for cohorts. If extraordinary circumstances merit a mount gaining Hit Dice , and you have Handle Animal ranks and take an interest in training the animal , use the same guidelines as those for animal companions.

Even if the animal is taught to understand a language, it probably lacks the anatomy to actually speak unless awaken is used. An intelligent animal is smart enough to use tools, but might lack the ability to manipulate them. Even if the animal is physically capable of using a tool, it might still prefer its own natural body to manufactured items, especially when it comes to weapons. An intelligent gorilla could hold or wield a sword, but its inclination is to make slam attacks. No amount of training including weapon proficiency feats is going to make it fully comfortable attacking in any other way.

For example, an intelligent wolf companion can pick the weakest-looking target if directed to do so, and that same wolf trapped in a burning building might push open a door or window without being told. Props : Physical props can help you, the other players, and the GM remember companions. If the campaign uses miniatures on the tabletop, the companion should have its own miniature or token. Even without miniatures, having a physical representation of the companion on the tabletop keeps it in mind.

Whether this is a stuffed animal, a toy, an action figure, a cardboard stand-up, a GameMastery Face Card, or a simple character sheet with a colorful illustration, this kind of reminder gives the companion a presence on the tabletop. Another Player : If you regularly forget the presence of your companion and the GM is busy dealing with the rest of the game, another player can take over playing the companion.

If the second player has an introverted character or one whose actions in combat are fast and efficient, allowing that player to control the companion gives him another opportunity to have some time in the spotlight. Allowing another character to play the companion also gives the group additional roleplaying opportunities.

Wearing a hat or mask, or holding up a small flag or banner to represent the companion can help other players keep track of who is acting when you speak. This is an opportunity for that person to get involved in the game without the responsibility of being a full contributing member to the group—and just might be the hook that convinces that observer to become active in the game. If playing a companion goes well, the GM may create a one-shot spin-off adventure in which all the players play companion creatures instead of normal PCs perhaps because the PCs are captured, incapacitated, or merely sleeping , returning to the normal campaign when that adventure is completed.

An animal companion or cohort follows the druid silently and acts only when a skill check or attack roll is needed. An eidolon is used as a mount or an expendable resource in battle. Followers also have a unique companion role in that they spend most of their time away from you, and might use that time positively or negatively. What did it do before it met you? What is its motivation for joining the adventuring party? What are its goals?

Unless you raised your animal companion from birth, it has its own history and secrets that are likely important and could surprise you. What happens when that wolf recognizes that helpful ranger , savage orc , or mad wizard? What if the companion was once a humanoid , but was cursed or polymorphed into a different shape and lost its memory about its original identity?

What if another druid previously cast awaken on it, and it has been pretending to be a common animal so it can watch over or spy on a PC? The answers to these questions are the seeds to side plots or entire adventures. Animal companions can also incite fear or prejudice among ignorant townsfolk. Stables might charge more to board exotic animals or entirely refuse to do so, and might not have appropriate food for them.

If a village is experiencing attacks on its livestock, angry people might be quick to blame a carnivorous animal companion. Conversely, innocent children could have a circus-like fascination with exotic animal companions and help break the ice between visiting adventurers and suspicious locals.

A cohort could have a former life as a criminal that she abandoned after being inspired by your heroic deeds. Just like a PC, a cohort has family and friends, with hopes and concerns for those people. The cohort might be a target for your enemies who are unwilling or unable to strike directly at you though be careful to avoid making the cohort become a liability or look incompetent. She may have secret vices or virtues that become more prominent over time and can directly affect her relationship with you.

An eidolon has the same mystery as a cohort , except its origins are far weirder. It might have been linked to another summoner before its bond with you. It might be a natural creature altered by planar energies and banished to a far realm, or a former adventurer lost in a disastrous mission to an unknown plane. If it resembles a more conventional planar monster such as an archon , a dretch , or an elemental , it might have been accidentally summoned or called by a sloppy spellcaster and could have some familiarity with other people in the world. How it reacts to things during its limited time on the Material Plane is influenced by its unknown past and secret life.

An eidolon always has the appearance of a fantastical creature, and attracts as much attention as any unfamiliar animal would. Fortunately for you, you can send the eidolon away to its extraplanar home, allowing you to do business in town and move about normally without drawing unwanted attention. However, if you call the eidolon in an emergency without warning the local authorities, townsfolk might assume it is a marauding monster bent on tearing them limb from limb, requiring hasty explanations and diplomacy to prevent panic.

Plot hooks for familiars are similar to those for animal companions , as they can have the same unknown backgrounds and instinctive reactions to people they knew when they were just common animals. Remember that a familiar has an empathic link to its master, and its animal instincts can lead to plot hooks. For example, a toad familiar might project feelings of hunger whenever a member of a fly- demon cult is nearby, a bat familiar might express curiosity about the words a weird hermit is muttering under his breath, and a rat familiar might feel fear when a dangerous assassin walks into the room.

A follower should be more than an acquaintance or an employee. The follower sees you as a hero or celebrity—someone to emulate. Followers can be spread out over multiple settlements and have multiple roles. Gaining followers is an opportunity for you to look back over your adventuring career, recall important or noteworthy NPCs, and solidify the bonds between those NPCs and you. Choosing followers gives you a network of loyal contacts who trust and respect you.

The city guard might invite you to gamble with the other guards or arrange to have your armor polished.

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The informant might have news about mysterious disappearances or volunteer to keep an eye on your rival. The adept might send messages about strange events from the wildlands. The strange child might have precognitive visions, perhaps from budding magical powers. If you ever lose or dismiss your cohort , selecting a replacement from among your followers not only gives you an excuse to spend some downtime training that follower to become your new cohort , but rewards the loyalty of all the other followers, as they see that you treat them as near equals.

The GM should use these followers as plot hooks. Instead of having rumors from an unknown source reach your ears from no specific source, a named follower could present that information. Instead of having you hunt for information about a cataclysm prophesied to occur in 3 days, a scholarly follower could find a scroll or book about the prophecy and bring it to you.

The poor merchant can ask you for help dealing with a charismatic man trying to convince his daughter to become a prostitute. As you reach higher Leadership scores, you gain dozens of followers. If you ever decide to build a fort or found a temple or guild, you already have a group of like-minded and skilled followers ready and willing to help. Adventuring is a dangerous career, and sometimes an animal companion , cohort , or familiar dies or is lost.

An extended voyage in a dangerous environment might convince a druid to free a trusted companion that would otherwise suffer and die if forced to travel such as a polar bear in the desert. Regardless of the cause, when a companion dies or is lost, you need to replace it. This creates an opportunity for roleplaying.

A lost animal companion , cohort , familiar , or follower can be raised or resurrected with spells such as raise dead , resurrection , or true resurrection. For a cohort or follower with character levels, these kinds of spells give the character one or more negative levels —a price worth paying if the alternative is death. Creatures with no character levels such as animal companions and familiars count as 1st level for the purpose of these spells, and therefore they take Constitution drain instead of negative levels. For a lower-level cohort or a non-adventuring follower, the gift of a second chance at life is something very treasured and earns you great respect and devotion.

Few humans would choose to be reincarnated as a bugbear or kobold , but if the choice is that or death, a new life in a new body is generally preferred. For an animal companion , the GM should create a random table of creatures similar to its original form—for example, a lion might be reincarnated as a leopard , cheetah , or tiger. In some cases, replacing an animal companion or familiar can be as easy as purchasing an animal of the desired type and declaring it your new companion. Attuning a familiar to its new master requires a ritual. Choosing an animal companion requires 24 hours of prayer.

The ceremony can also be used to attract and bond with an animal appropriate to the local environment. However, you might want to wait for the campaign to present an appropriate companion, such as an animal you rescue from a cruel enemy that you tame with the ritual or ceremony. In terms of game mechanics, there is no difference between any of these options, and you should work with the GM to find a replacement method that is appropriate to the campaign.

Replacing a lost or killed cohort or follower involves a similar collaboration between you and the GM to create a character who is appropriate for the campaign and valuable to you and hopefully to the rest of the party. You might want to elevate a follower to a cohort , select another known NPC to become a cohort , or start from scratch by introducing a new NPC to the party. Those with an inherent connection to magic often attract creatures who feel a similar instinctive pull toward magical forces.

At 1st level, a sorcerer , bloodrager , or any other character with one of the following bloodlines can choose to gain a bloodline familiar. For example, a sorcerer with the aberrant bloodline who takes a bloodline familiar would not gain the acidic ray bloodline power , and she would gain her first bonus spell at 4th level, her second bonus spell at 6th level, and so on. GMs may use the following bloodline familiar abilities as written, or employ them as guidelines for devising bloodline familiar abilities for bloodlines not listed below.

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The familiar gains the compression ability, allowing it to move through an area as small as one-quarter its space without squeezing or one-eighth its space when squeezing. Spells you cast that target your familiar are treated as having a caster level 2 levels higher than your actual caster level. This effect lasts a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier minimum 1 or until the familiar stops touching the creature, whichever comes first. At 10th level, the familiar grants fast healing 2 instead.

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At 20th level, the familiar grants fast healing 3 instead. These benefits increase by 1 at 10th level and again at 20th level. These minutes need not be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute increments. The familiar can fascinate other creatures as the fascinate bardic performance , treating your caster level as its bard level and using your Charisma modifier for the purpose of calculating the Will save DC.

The familiar cannot perform any other actions while using this ability. This DC increases to 20 at 10th level, and to 25 at 20th level. Animal companions, familiars and mounts are immune to this effect. The familiar is alive, but is treated as undead for all effects that affect undead differently from living creatures, such as cure spells and channeled energy. Just as a sorcerer can gain a bloodline familiar, a witch can gain a patron familiar by choosing one at 1st level in place of her standard familiar. The familiar is incredibly fast for its type.

The familiar gains the ability to speak with animals of its kind at 1st level. If it would normally gain this ability at 7th level, the familiar gains the ability to speak with all animals as though constantly under the effects of speak with animals at 7th level. The familiar gains Bluff and Sense Motive as class skills. At 10th level, the familiar can throw its voice at will, as if using ventriloquism.

Choose an energy type: acid, cold, electricity, or fire. The familiar gains resistance 5 to the selected energy type. Whenever the familiar delivers a touch spell that deals energy damage, it can change the type of energy damage dealt to the selected energy type. The familiar is unnaturally talented at resisting bodily corruption. At 10th level, this bonus also applies against magical diseases and poisons. At 20th level, this bonus also applies against curses. Once per day, the familiar can inflict filth fever with its natural attacks for 1 round.

At 10th level, the familiar can inflict red ache instead. At 20th level, it can inflict demon fever instead. The familiar is able to transform itself. The duration doubles at 8th level, and triples at 16th level. This duration need not be consecutive, but it must be used in 1 minute increments. For instance, a cat familiar could appear as any Tiny animal. These minutes need not be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute intervals. If the familiar can already breathe water, it can breathe air for the same duration.

At 10th level, the familiar gains a swim speed of 30 feet or a land speed of 30 feet if it already has a swim speed while using this ability. At 20th level, the familiar can move through water as though under the effects of freedom of movement while using this ability. The familiar gains a Wisdom score of 6. This score increases by 1 point at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter at the same rate as its Intelligence score.

This may cause a familiar whose Wisdom score is typically higher than 6 to start with a lower Wisdom score than normal. Shop our Store! Sell in the Store! Back my Patreon! Toggle navigation. There are new feats intended for Animals. Squeezer Ex The familiar gains the compression ability, allowing it to move through an area as small as one-quarter its space without squeezing or one-eighth its space when squeezing. Spell Catalyst Su Spells you cast that target your familiar are treated as having a caster level 2 levels higher than your actual caster level.

Amusing Familiar Su The familiar can fascinate other creatures as the fascinate bardic performance , treating your caster level as its bard level and using your Charisma modifier for the purpose of calculating the Will save DC. This paper differentiates the term from other related concepts, such as species-typical behaviour and wellbeing. It identifies contingent ways in which naturalness might be used, as: i prompts for further welfare assessment; ii a plausible hypothesis for what safeguards wellbeing; iii a threshold for what is acceptable; iv constraints on what improvements are unacceptable; and v demarcating what is not morally wrong, because of a lack of human agency.

It proposes classing unaffected wild populations as natural by definition. Where animals might have been affected by humans, they should be compared to the closest population s of unaffected animals. This approach could allow us both to assess naturalness scientifically, and to make practical decisions about the behaviour of domestic animals. Naturalness is often considered important. Others may think of naturalness as a value in its own right, suggesting that animals should be allowed to live naturally not for their own benefit but because interference with nature is wrong.

However, natural behaviour is conceptually problematic and practically difficult to use objectively and consistently. It is a vague and ambiguous term, with the potential for, confusion, misuse, or misunderstanding.


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This is especially important because the mis use of the concept could lead us to dangerous conclusions. On the one hand, promoting naturalness might suggest that animals should not receive interventions such as unnatural analgesia or be kept by humans at all, or that animals should experience natural disease, predation and uncontrolled reproduction. On the other hand, any behaviour can arguably be described as natural in certain contexts e. If animal welfare is an area of scientific enquiry, and natural behaviour is part of animal welfare, we should try to define it accurately and assess it scientifically.

However, while a lot of excellent work has defined and evaluated behaviour in terms of function and feelings, surprisingly little has considered how natural behaviour might be defined and measured. Such subjective, qualitative judgements risk irrationalities, such as response biases, attentional selectivity, intransitivity, excessive focusing on certain traits, and inter- and intra-individual unreliability. In the absence of theoretical and empirical work, policy discussions can become confusing, misleading, or fruitless.

Defining and assessing natural behaviour may be difficult—like the rest of ethology and animal welfare science [ 9 ]. Indeed, rigorously assessing natural behaviour may ultimately prove too difficult. But the attempt is necessary. This paper suggests an axiological approach that is amenable to scientific exploration, is based on reality rather than idealism, and allows us as humans to assess which interventions can allow animals to exhibit the greatest degree of natural behaviour. Scientifically or prescientifically , unnatural behaviour can prompt research questions, because they relate to matters that are important to animals in at least one context and, for similar reasons, natural behaviour can generate research hypotheses for testing.

Ethically, the wellbeing of animals exhibiting natural behaviour can be used as a baseline of moral acceptability, and concern for too much unnatural behaviour can be used as a constraint on efforts to improve wellbeing. This paper differentiates the term from other related concepts, and distinguishes naturalness and wellbeing as separate concepts.

Nevertheless, it identifies contingent relationships in which the concern for natural behaviour can be used alongside the concern for wellbeing: i that unnatural behaviour might provide useful prompts for further welfare assessment; ii that natural behaviour might provide a rule of thumb in the complete absence of any other information in order to achieve a minimal level of wellbeing; iii that natural behaviour can be used to set thresholds for what is acceptable welfare and vice versa ; iv that avoiding unnatural behaviour might be used to set constraints on what welfare improvements are unacceptable; v that natural outcomes may be seen as amoral, through lack of human agency.

The first step is to identify whether the subject population is unaffected. If so, then this population can be assessed as natural by definition thus avoiding paradoxical or absurd conclusions. This approach could allow us both to consider the concept of natural behaviour in a way that is amenable to scientific exploration, and to make practical decisions about the behaviour of domestic animals. Arguments about naturalness may seem relatively simple when considering some cases such as wild-caught animals kept in captivity, or behaviours that are never seen in wild populations.

However, the concept may generate less obvious answers when considering more complex cases, in particular when some human activity has already seemed to engender an unnatural state. For example, we might consider a brief thought-experiment about a new animal type: imagine a being created from genetically modifying a chicken so that it has no legs, no beak, no feathers.

It does not peck, fly, dustbathe, or lay eggs. Genetically, this animal is very different from chickens, indeed the genetic differences are greater than those between animals we currently categorise as different species. Phenotypically, this animal has different morphology and behavioural patterns to all other chickens. This raises a variety of questions. Are lickens unnatural? Are their features unnatural? What behaviour is to be expected of normal lickens?

What aspects of their behaviour are natural and which are not—and how unnatural are they? What is the ideal for Lickens? Should we ignore what chickens do, since lickens are genetically and phenotypically very different from chickens? Should we categorise lickens as a new species? If lickens are not chickens, on what grounds could we compare them to chickens? Might we still compare them to chickens from which they are derived and compare chickens to their evolutionary ancestors? Should we compare their behaviour to wild chickens, and if so, how?

If there are no wild chickens, to what should we compare them? Should we compare them to red jungle fowl? Or should we compare them only to other lickens which would presumably conclude that it is natural for lickens to have no legs, beak, sensation, feathers, or eyes and for them not to peck, fly, dustbathe or lay—and that we should resist any attempts to modify lickens so that they can peck etc. What would increase the naturalness of their behaviour? What should we when do we are faced with the choice to alter lickens so they either peck or dustbathe but not do both? Is creating lickens wrong?

Is creating lickens against nature and do lickens, therefore have poor welfare? To consider the relationships between these concepts, we need to know what we mean by them. This includes some consideration of its feelings [ 16 ] and its pathology, productivity or physiology [ 17 , 18 , 19 ].

To avoid confusion, I shall avoid the term welfare to relate to these concepts and instead use wellbeing. Before suggesting an approach, some theoretical work is useful to describe what we want from an approach to naturalness. We need an approach that is appropriate for scientific purposes, fitting with basic tenets of measurement theory and scientific method, particularly in treating naturalness as objectively observable and measurable. We also need an approach that provides sensible ethical guidance in practice, particularly in guiding decisions about animals in human care.

We need an approach that avoids making absurd conclusions, such as that different behaviour of unaffected wild animals are of unequal naturalness i. We should similarly avoid concluding that the behaviours of any unaffected wild animals are unnatural i. Four general questions are critical to help us work out an approach that meets our criteria:. Product or Production? Real or Ideal?

Point or Range? Two-tone or Shades of Grey? But behaviour could also be categorised as natural versus unnatural i. Some answers, or combinations of answers, to these questions would be scientifically, ethically, or logically inappropriate. This process of elimination suggests that the appropriate combination is that naturalness is considered a real property, representing a range of behavioural repertoires and a matter of degree. We perhaps also want an account that fits, reflectively, with how we intuitively assess naturalness.

Of course, this should not be definitive, but it is a good place to start. Furthermore, we might make an additional assumption that such qualitative assessments can be reduced to multiple qualitative comparisons [ 22 ]. While neither assumption is vital for the proposal to work in practice, they bring it closer to how people actually think.

It is important to isolate naturalness from other, associated concepts. In particular, it is important to distinguish natural from descriptions of other phenomena. For example, natural behavior is not the same as the behaviour that is normal for the species e. Most importantly, the definition of natural behaviour should not introduce concepts that actually relate to another concern e. In fact, one might suspect that many of the times that people use the term natural behaviour, they really mean another concept, and are actually concerned about something else.

For example, stereotypies are perhaps an archetypical unnatural behaviour but are arguably better conceptualised in terms of feelings e. These other concepts may indeed, relate to natural behaviour, and further work is needed to explore those relationships, but they are not the same concept as that of natural behaviour as something valued in its own right.

It can also apply to the behaviour of captive animals insofar as what behaviour would be natural for them is the behaviour that they would have expressed, were they unaffected. If a behaviour occurs in captivity that would have happened anyway occurs in captivity, then it is natural, even though the animal is captive.

If, however, a behaviour is caused to be different or absent, then it is unnatural to that degree. In the anthropocene epoch, where human impacts are global and pervasive, some unnaturalness may be widespread. In one sense, humans are natural insofar as they come from the same origins as other species. Let us first dismiss some ways in which one might relate wellbeing and natural behaviour. Firstly, we can dismiss the idea that natural behaviour is conceptually part of wellbeing: they are logically independent concepts. Some forms of aberrant behaviour may be defined as poor health, but in most cases behaviour is not the same as either feelings or function.

We may also distinguish between a behaviour that is natural and one that is motivated in an individual [ 26 ]. Natural behaviour and wellbeing are different concepts. Some authors have tried to conflate the two concepts of natural behaviour and wellbeing together by restricting the concept of natural to what is good in nature [ 27 ] and excluding what is bad. For example, Bracke and Hopster [ 4 ] defined natural behaviours as limited to pleasurable behaviours. However, this approach seems inconsistent with the meanings of the words: it seems wrong to consider earthquakes as unnatural. Such concept may well be useful, but it is not one of natural behaviour.

Perhaps we might consider the value of natural behaviour and wellbeing as part of some overarching value such as integrity, authenticity, or telos, of which some elements apply to sentient animals and others do not while some might apply to sentient artefacts such as affective artificial intelligences, and others to natural insentient forms such as plants. But, in the absence of a convincing architecture of such a relationship in a way that has practical relevance, it seems sensible to consider them as conceptually separate values or at least as distinct, top-level overarching elements within a very general idea such as goodness.

Secondly, we can also reject the idea that naturalness is consistently associated with better wellbeing. There is limited evidence that natural behaviour reliably either leads to or signifies better wellbeing, and some evidence that it does not, in comparison to some unnatural alternatives [ 6 , 9 , 28 ].

For example, animals are not expected to enjoy opportunities to perform sickness-behaviours, flight, or antagonistic behaviours [ 29 , 30 , 31 ] in comparison to the absence of the eliciting stimuli i. Similarly, animals may find or show enjoyment in exhibiting unnatural affiliative interactions with their human caregivers [ 32 ]. The evolutionary adaptation responsible for natural behaviour is likely to have optimised survival and reproduction rather than wellbeing.

Natural behaviour may sometimes be maladaptive e. Natural motivations or needs may be better satisfied by unnatural behaviour e. It is impossible to determine a priori what natural behaviour improves wellbeing [ 36 , 37 ]. Indeed, where natural behaviour can be valued because of the wellbeing it causes or signifies, then it seems more parsimonious to consider whatever it is that actually has value: motivations, behavioural needs, avoiding suffering, etc.

How, then, can we use natural behaviour when evaluating animal wellbeing? I can suggest several ways. Unnatural behaviour might be taken as a prompt for a more detailed animal welfare assessment. The observation of unnatural behaviour may give us a heads up to prompt further investigation to assess wellbeing. The presence of an unnatural behaviour can be considered to indicate different potentially better or worse wellbeing than wild animals experience.

The presence of natural behaviour can be taken to indicate merely that there are anthropogenic processes in play, i. Such further investigation in such cases can aim to determine whether the wellbeing of animals performing unnatural behaviour is better or worse or neither than that of animals performing a more natural behaviour. For example those performing stereotypies in certain conditions may have better welfare than animals not kept in those conditions e. While hypotheses can be generated from many sources of inspiration, it seems sensible to test hypotheses where there is a plausible chance of disconfirming the null hypothesis: i.

In both cases, there is an argument for cautiously considering natural behaviour as a guide to what to do. Behaviours that are exhibited naturally are motivated [ 38 ] and not too harmful [ 37 ] within the natural context in which they occur. Similarly, what an animal chooses to eat in the wild might be foods that it will find reasonably rewarding and reasonably healthy in other contexts.

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In this sense, this approach is similar to the classic ethological studies, such as those in the Edinburgh pig park [ 41 ] and similar work by Per Jensen and colleagues in Sweden e. One risk of this approach is that ensuring natural behaviour seems likely to set a relatively unambitious level of wellbeing: one in which the animals suffer fear, disease, and competition, for example. Where we identify that the rule of thumb achieves such a low level, we are then in a position to move beyond the rule of thumb.

This problem does not mean it cannot be useful as a rule of thumb—merely that it must be used only as a rule of thumb. Perhaps, however, there are other, better rules of thumb that achieve a higher level. Another limitation of this rule of thumb is that the value of natural behaviour may be partly context-specific. The value of escape may largely depend on the perceived presence of threats. The value of heat-seeking at least partly depends on the prior body temperature.

Some natural behaviour may be motivated regardless of the actual context e. Others may be motivated in nearly all contexts e. Similarly, the value of natural behaviour may be partly individual-specific.


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Different individuals may have different needs and preferences, some of which might be associated with an unnatural behaviour. The rule of thumb of promoting natural behaviour might therefore be more reliable for more wild-type animals in more naturalistic contexts, whose breeding and ontogeny are more natural, and less useful for highly domesticated animals in anthropogenic contexts.

However, in all cases, the presence or absence of un natural behaviour is only a rule of thumb, and its implications can be defeated by new information. As a slight aside, this rule of thumb might be rhetorically useful if part of the appeal of natural behaviour as a value in animal welfare is because manmade environments are commonly seen as being harmful. Natural environments tend to be compared to harmful unnatural ones, associated with living conditions in modern intensive farming, zoological gardens, or laboratory settings. As such, the rule of thumb is less that natural tends to be good, but that anthropogenic tends to be harmful.

Of course, if one completely rejects any causative connection between wellbeing and natural behaviour at all, then the latter cannot serve as a valid rule of thumb, not even inferentially. As well as the empirical considerations, we might also make an ethical decision that, the wellbeing of animals that exhibit a natural behaviour is morally acceptable. On a small scale, it could be concluded that any individual natural behaviour is associated with an acceptable level of welfare perhaps by considering all natural states to be acceptable.

On a larger scale, it could be concluded that the wellbeing of animals that perform completely a natural behaviour i. This would involve valuing situations that cause unnatural behaviour basis of a wellbeing assessment of both animals showing natural behaviour and those displaying the unnatural behaviour: providing the latter is no lower than the former, then that situation is also acceptable.

This could legitimise naturalistic space allowances e. One practical difficulty in applying this argument is that it is difficult to determine what aspect of nature one tries to match—for example a cage should be at least as large as the home burrow, or perhaps the usual territory although one easy answer is both. A more worrying implication is that this would lead to, in itself, a very low threshold, given the amount of suffering with which natural behaviour can be associated.

Where it is natural for animals to starve to death, suffer untreated disease, and be hunted regularly, these might seem unacceptable baselines although this argument may underlie ethical claims that, since animals are killed and eaten by predators in the wild, it is acceptable for animals to be eaten by humans. Perhaps one could only use good natural behaviour to set the baseline, but as for Bracke and Hopster [ 4 ] there is no apparent theoretical basis for picking and choosing which aspects of the natural situation to use as our baseline.

Looking on a larger scale, we might consider that the average wellbeing of animals in captivity should be at least as good as the average wellbeing of animals in the wild. Outcomes such as natural morbidity or mortality rate may be considered acceptable if they are equivalent to, or better than, what occurs in nature. Again, this still seems a very low threshold when harms such as starvation, predation, or disease are naturally prevalent or intensely unpleasant.

Natural behaviour and animal wellbeing might be considered as separate concepts that constrain us in different ways—with each limiting how much we should pursue the other. For example, the breeding of insentient animals or blind chickens might be considered unacceptable, even when they lead to welfare improvements [ 48 , 49 ].

Reciprocally, the concern for animal wellbeing might make us avoid certain natural behaviours, for example giving unnatural analgesia to reduce natural pain-related behaviours. One disadvantage with using each concern to balance the other is working what degree of unnatural behaviour crosses the line in the sand, or how to balance the two concerns. That would require, presumably, some way of measuring naturalness and some way of making that assessment ethically, comparable with measurements of wellbeing.

Alternatively, animal welfare could be defined so that the concept of animal welfare is relevant or meaningful only in unnatural situations. In particular, the scope of the meaningful application of the term animal welfare could be limited to situations resultant in human interaction. This approach would effectively mean that natural states are neither bad nor good welfare. This approach has the disadvantage that it prevents us from speaking about the welfare of animals in natural situations, and it seems inconsistent to restrict the conversation to animals under human control.

In particular, this approach would make nonsensical any idea of improving the welfare of a wild animal harmed by natural causes e. This argument has the practical conclusion of suggesting that humans have a moral responsibility to act to improve animal welfare only in anthropogenic contexts. A fifth way to consider naturalness is as an amoral concept at least, outside human morality. Either it is the responsibility of the divine creator and therefore beyond human morality or it is the result of natural forces with no genuine autonomous agency. Humans may act to prevent natural behaviour or, by omission, allow it to occur.

But a natural event itself is amoral. By the same token, the outcome of that event is also non-ethical, such that any suffering caused or signified is not our fault. This approach has the practical advantage of delimiting our sphere of concern, albeit with the caveats that there may be little animal behaviour that is genuinely unaffected by human activity, and that determining it is difficult. Thus, on this approach, the question of assessing when a behaviour is genuinely natural becomes a question of defining the borders of animal ethics.

In Step 1, we should identify whether the subject animals are unaffected. For such animals, the work is now done with regard to evaluating naturalness but far from done in terms of ethological study. Their behaviour can be assessed as natural by definition and this therefore reliably and tautologically avoids their behaviour ever being absurdly deemed unnatural. In comparison, where we know or suspect there has been human influence, then we need to follow further steps. Step 2 involves identifying an appropriate, relevant, similar, and unaffected population for comparison.

My suggestion is to compare such animals to a population or populations which a is assumed to be unaffected; b is the most similar to the subject animal; c there is sufficient scientific information about; d is relevant to the research question. In other cases, where the most similar unaffected population is not self-evident phylogenetically, we might need to perform steps 3—7 for several populations to identify the population that is most similar. In other cases, where there is no equivalent population to a subject population that meets criteria a—d , then a comparison is not possible.

This Step 2 cannot use comparisons with populations of affected animals. Studies of domestic animals in semi-natural conditions e. Similarly, studies of feral populations descended from domestic animals can only show behaviours which may or may not be natural although there might be an argument for using comparisons to feral animals that are reasonably believed to have reverted entirely to their wild-type state—an assessment which should be based on comparing those feral animals to definitely unaffected animals, using this process.

In Steps 3 and 4, we need to characterise the behaviour of both the comparison animals and the subject animals, in a way that conceptually includes all relevant behaviours of all unaffected animals of that population across all relevant contexts. This characterisation can legitimately generalise from representative samples, as a methodological practicality no different from other scientific inferences from specific samples to generalised natural laws, so long as these samples are thought to be representative.

This representation should include the whole range of variation, including extreme outliers. Simple ethograms might classify the structures or consequences of the relevant behaviour as purely descriptive categories; more complex characterisations might quantify the latencies, durations, frequencies, magnitudes, intensities, inter-individual variation for comparisons at the group level , etc as continuous data.

In some cases, eliciting stimuli can also be described categorically or quantifiably. In order to avoid missing natural behaviours, the observations of these animals where they are possible should be performed over as long a period and of as many animals as possible, across an appropriate range of contexts e. Inevitably, restrictions of sampling will mean some behaviours are missed as they might for any ethogrammatic effort , and this means we should be cautious before declaring a behaviour categorically unnatural.

Ideally, no single behaviour should be evaluated in isolation, as all behaviours may have some degree of naturalness depending on their contexts, eliciting stimuli, and relationships with other prior and subsequent behaviour. There is perhaps always a most similar behaviour to which it can be compared e. For simple quantitative comparisons, the number of qualitatively-similar behaviours that the subject animal shares with the unaffected animals might be scored positively, the number of differences negatively, and the results aggregated using adapted versions of conventional statistical analyses of similarity involving categorical data e.

Endangered Scottish wildlife left with no legal protection

These figures might even be modelled and, for visualisation, graphically represented using Cartesian methods Figure 1 , with unnaturalness, i. This could also allow some weighting to reflect the perceived relative significance of differences as we see for phylogenetic analysis , for example by giving greater importance to the complete absence of a common wild behaviour. Quantitative assessment of behaviours relative to the behaviour of an unaffected population for two hypothetical traits. We may then ethically choose to promote maximal naturalness i. These aims might need to be balanced with conflicting or, in other cases, coinciding objectives, such as avoiding suffering, improving biological function, or benefiting humans.

These examples are not intended to generate any revolutionary conclusions about those animals but are for illustrative purposes. Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forsteri on a stable ice pack in Antarctica. Strictly speaking, ever since Johan Reinhold Foster and Captain Cook saw one there is the possibility that they are affected by human intervention but, unless they are disturbed by the assessors, this can probably be practically discounted, and these animals can be considered as being unaffected a priori, and thus their behaviour is natural.

This example finishes at Step 2: there is no need for a comparative population as their behaviour is by definition natural. Indeed, if one did such a comparison, they would be compared to themselves, and so be identical. These appear likely to be a recent development [ 52 ] and, while colonies do shift sometimes, there is the reasonable possibility that these changes are due to human intervention. In this case, this might give some circumstantial evidence to help answer whether the shift in the ecological niche is due to human effects—if the penguins are otherwise homogenous to definitely unaffected animals, then that might make us more confident to assume the difference is natural; if not, then that might make us think it is part of a suite of differences due to human effects.

Tigers Panthera tigris kept in a zoological collection and asked to perform some tricks. Comparisons to wild animals of the same subspecies would be more precise, but comparisons to all subspecies might be more appropriate if the information about their particular subspecies in the wild is sufficiently limited so that a restriction might hamper forming any valuable conclusions, so long as there are no know relevant differences between subspecies.

Particular behaviours might be evaluated relative to wild animals. This assessment would necessarily be based on what has been studied in wild and subject populations; subsequent work e. A domestic sow Sus scrofa dmesticus in a gestation crate. The ancestor of the domestic pigs, the Eurasian wildpig or wild boar Sus scrofa is existent in to the best of our knowledge unchanged form at least in some cases.

There are a number of subspecies and geographical distributions but in the absence of particular reasons to focus on one, any behaviour observed in any unaffected subspecies and environment might be used for comparison in this case. This might use binary assessments, aggregated into an overall assessment. Note the number generated here is useless on its own beyond noting that the behaviour is not perfectly natural and cannot be meaningfully compared to the tiger assessments.

A horse Equus ferus caballus used for riding and group-housed at pasture. One possible comparator population would be the extinct ancestors perhaps the tarpan, Equus ferus ferus , relying on information from historical and paleontological sources which to my knowledge is insufficient to generate any useful conclusions. A pet ferret Mustela putorius furo. The most probable ancestors of the ferret are the European polecat Mustela putorius putorius and the Steppe polecat Mustela eversmanni [ 58 , 59 , 60 ], bred for more than 2— years [ 61 ].

As such, perhaps the behaviour that is found in both ancestral species might be reasonably considered to be natural for pet ferrets e. Compared to wild-type mice without the modification, such mice may show significantly altered ultrasonic vocalization levels [ 64 ]; cognitive deficits in attention [ 65 ]; cognitive learning defects [ 66 , 67 , 68 ]; hyper-reactivity to certain sensory stimuli [ 69 ]; deficits in prepulse inhibition [ 70 ]; altered trace fear memory [ 71 ]; distances travelled during an open field test [ 72 ]; greater aversion to central mirrored chambers and fewer victories in a tube test of social dominance [ 73 ] and so on see Kazdoba et al.

However, these can only generate hypotheses about what might be natural, because the other comparator mice are evidently unnatural. Instead, such mice would need to be compared to behavioural measures of completely wild mice and not just lab mice strains lacking a knock-out modification in the wild not in human environments such as elevated plus-mazes. Lickens might be compared to the remaining red jungle fowl Gallus gallus in South Asian forests.

Red jungle fowl usually weigh less than 1 kg [ 75 ], are omnivorous [ 76 ] and devote considerable portions of their time budgets to foraging, even under unnatural environments [ 77 ]. Lickens clearly differ in these and other characteristics, and to that extent. In other words, we compare them to jungle fowl, not chickens or other lickens.

Naturalness and Animal Welfare

Furthermore, lickens are almost identical to one another, compared to the heterogeneity of jungle fowl, i. Lickens do not show the form typical of species in general i. A comparison between lickens and chickens is therefore not directly relevant. However, when tacitly considering differences that make lickens further removed from the jungle fowl, then these comparisons may be a short-hand way of saying that lickens are more unnatural than chickens.

Chickens have been domestically bred from within this species for centuries [ 78 , 79 , 80 , 81 ]. Compared to jungle fowl, domestic chickens Gallus gallus domesticus show some somewhat similar morphologies and behavioural responsiveness [ 82 ], but also show considerable differences in the actual behaviours shown in domestic contexts [ 83 ] and morphologies [ 84 ]. These similarities between domestic chickens and jungle fowl could be considered to imply they are natural; the differences could imply the former are unnatural.

Further theoretical and empirical work is needed to select between and refine the methodology sketched here and to work out the implications for particular species and populations. Meanwhile, some potential implications can be predicted, and these predictions can be used to test the approach against our intuitions. In particular:. Behaviour that involves humans may be somewhat natural e.

Prior contact with humans does not in itself necessarily mean that an animal is then unnatural but only insofar as it is affected by that contact. Humans can not only allow naturalness by non-interference but also increase it by counteracting additional interference e. There is a lot of work to be done if this approach is to be used scientifically.

In particular, the usefulness of the concept in scientific animal welfare assessments may be limited by predictable problems of validity e. It also seems likely that many initial characterisations of what is natural will be superseded as new data are generated. In particular, a rare natural behaviour may be initially deemed unnatural. This method of assessment might be complex and time-consuming—particularly, relative to rhetorical, sweeping statements on un naturalness.

However, assessing the naturalness of an animal needs to be complex if we want it to be meaningful.

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