Animal Wisdom: Connecting People and Animals

A blog encouraging deeper relations between people and animals.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Animal Relationships: Partnerships

Another aspect of working with your animal teachers is to study the partnerships that they form. Many animals work with others to achieve their goals. In that case, the relationship with the other animal should also be studied. How they work together can aid in your understanding of how you can partner with others.

Various types of animal relationships have lessons to impart. For example, zebras drink at a water hole with wildebeests and ostriches. While the others see danger, the zebras smell danger. Together, the animals provide safety for each other at the communal water hole. This is an example of a community forming from diverse entities for a short duration. This could be something that festival organizers could benefit learning from.

Sometimes two competitors will form an alliance. The American badger and coyote hunt ground squirrels together. While the American badger digs out ground squirrels, the coyote stations himself at an escape hole, waiting for an unaware squirrel to pop out. He pounces on the unfortunate victim and shares the bounty with the American badger.

In another example, the ratel (honey badger) teams with the honeyguide in the pursuit of bees. The ratel eats the honey; the honeyguide - the wax and grubs. The honeyguide finds the hive, and calls to the ratel, who then opens the hive. Since the ratel is immune to the stinging bees, she is successful in getting inside the hive. Both benefit from their alliance in finding the bees and sharing their bounty.

In these cases, study both animals and how they relate to the other. Animals who are competitors working together in a common pursuit teach how people can do this. Animals of different species can demonstrate how to get past differences to co-operation. If your animal teacher has these type of relationships, then the other animal has a place in your life as a helper.

However, there are “partnerships” that serve as a warning. Commensalism occurs when one animal benefits while not harming the other. Study the natural history of your animal teacher to determine if they have this type of relationship with any other animal.

For example, the cattle egret rides on the back of a hippo. When the hippo moves about, the cattle egret eats the insects disturbed by the hippo’s rising. However, the hippo gets nothing from the relationship. The cattle egret will do the same with buffalo, too.

In this example, if the hippo is one of your animal teachers, then examine whether such people as the cattle egret exist in your life. Then study what the hippo does about them. If your animal is the cattle egret, then examine why you are dependent on others. If the cattle egret comes as a message animal to you, then look to what is going on in your life. If they both come together in a message, this is the subtext to review –why is one benefiting and the others are not.

Parasitism occurs when one animal lives on the host and harms it. If you feel drained, consider looking at if this relationship is occurring with your animal teacher. In these cases, these parasites could be obvious or subtle. For example, deer have deer ticks, which people tend to overlook when they think of “Deer.” Meanwhile, red ants herd aphids to leaf sap and then “milk” them. The aphids are slaves of the red ants. Also, these ants farm caterpillars for formic acid. Look to the animal’s natural history as to clues about what is going on in your life.

In the world of animals, many varied partnerships exist. Study how the animals interact with each other. See how they conduct themselves in their relationships. Apply what you have learned from their examples to your life. Moreover, learn how to benefit from an unlikely partnership.

Last modified on
Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


Additional information