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Pet Perception

Many of us ponder how our pets and other animals experience the world around them. 

The importance of UV light for navigation in certain animals is fascinating.  The sky is UV rich and objects like grass and flowers reflect hardly any UV light.  That is how some animals can differentiate between the sky, ground and objects.  Perception is vital for survival, it enables us to identify and respond to threats, find food and keep ourselves safe.

Interactions between dogs and owners can cause an increase in oxytocin – also known as “the love hormone”.  Dogs are highly sensitive to human behaviour, studies have shown that when owners look at their dog oxytocin levels in the dog and human increase.  Oxytocin is a hormone that bonds mothers and babies, so that is good evidence that dogs see their owners as parent-like figures with a mother-child kind of love. 

 Cats see much better in low light than humans.  That’s because they have around six to eight times as many light sensitive rod cells in their eyes than we do.  They also have greater peripheral vision than humans, although their vision is less effective in bright light. 

While fish do not have a cerebral cortex-which plays a key role in processing emotion, scientists believe fish may still have feelings.  There is a concept known as “emotional fever”.  When a mammal experiences mild stress, their body temperature increases.  This is “emotional fever”, which studies have shown fish experience too. 

Can bats see in the dark?  Bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark.  They emit high frequency sound pulses and use the vibration to build a 3D model of their environment. 

Octopuses have about the same number of neurons as a dog and can solve simple puzzles.  Most surprising is that they have more than one brain.  Octopuses have a mini brain in each of their eight arms, which gives them the ability to function independently.  This is called embodied cognition.  In this way each arm constructs its own program for ferrying food to the mouth.

DO elephants ever forget?  Not entirely, however elephants have excellent memories.  They have the largest brain of all land mammals, a well-developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex.  This means they can remember all members of their clan and can recall favourite locations for many years.  Elephants communicate across several kilometres with subsonic rumbles or intrasounds.  Humans can’t hear these low-frequency noises, but the mechanism elephants use to create the sounds is similar to singing.