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12 Animals That Protect Their Family and Work Together

When it comes to protecting their families from predators, or even rival groups of the same species, there are a few types of animals that come to mind for me. These animals will work together in teams and chase off predators or even kill them when necessary. Though sometimes they will just alert their family members to danger so they can take cover, like prairie dogs. Animals with strong family bonds like these have different ways of protecting their family members. In this article we’ll take a look at 12 different types of animals that protect their family and work together as a team to stay safe from danger!

Let’s take a look!

1. Chimpanzees

Arguably the most well-known primates next to humans, Chimpanzees are very social animals. They are highly intelligent and work together in a number of different ways. Chimps live and survive in groups of anywhere from 15 to 150 apes. As omnivores, they have also been known strategically hunt monkeys and other large prey.

In addition, if the family group is threatened by a rivaling Chimpanzee group or predator like a Jaguar, the family unit will band together to fend off the threat.

2. Elephants

Another one of the smartest animals on earth next to humans are elephants. As you may know, Elephants live in herds and have strength in numbers. Even though they have almost no natural predators, they aren’t totally safe in the wild. Aside from humans, the African Lion does pose a threat to elephants. It can take as many as 7 lionesses to take down a single elephant, however more like 2-3 of the heavier male lions may be up to the task.

Having said that, if the elephant herd is nearby, they will quickly come to the rescue of any other Elephant that is in distress. The lions will quickly scatter as they stand no chance against several fully grown elephants working together. Elephants have even been known to come to the aid of other species when they see one in need of help.

3. Otters

Not only are otters highly social animals that live in groups like the other animals on this list of animals that protect their family, but they are also carnivores. While they may look cute and adorable, they are actually wild animals with sharp teeth and quite dangerous!

They primarily feed on fish, but they will also work together to take down large prey like an alligator or a caiman. These clever guys are also very protective of their young. If they sense danger nearby, like an alligator for instance, they will quickly get the young some place safe and the adults will go after the threat. They will then proceed to toy with it and harass it, kill it, and eat it!

4. Dolphins

image: Tracie Jacques

Dolphins are very family oriented mammals and even nurse their young for a time after their birth. Any time a predator approaches, like a shark, the young dolphins, called calves, will be herded to the center of the group for maximum protection.

The adult dolphins will then work as a team to harass and fend off the predator by ramming them with their strong noses. Dolphins have been known to kill sharks, since sharks are solitary predators and dolphins always travel in groups known as pods. Even though these toothed-whales don’t seem dangerous, they are highly intelligent and are not to be trifled with in their environment.

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5. Orcas

Orcas, also known as “Killer Whales”, are not actually whales but toothed whales like the Bottlenose Dolphin above. Like dolphins, they are also highly protective of their young. However because of their large size they have fewer natural predators, aside from humans. In fact, Orcas are thought to be the only natural predators of the Great White Shark.

These beautiful sea mammals have strong family bonds and the young will stick very close to their mothers in the first few years of their lives. Other females of their pod will even take turns in helping care for each other’s young.

6. Lions

A group, or family of lions is called a pride. A pride of lions consists of anywhere from 15-40 lions with about 3-4 males, a dozen or 2 females, with the rest being cubs and juveniles. Each adult member of the pride has a specific job with the females, or lionesses, being responsible for hunting and bringing in the food. The male lions sole responsibility is to protect the pride from any and all threats.

Lions are quite clever and will work together in teams both to take down large prey, such as zebra or buffalo, as well as fend off threats. African Lions are at the top of the food chain and aside from humans, have no natural predators. However they do have some natural enemies that will fight them for food such as hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, and African Wild Dogs that travel in large packs.

7. Wolves

When you think of pack animals, wolves are definitely one of the first that come to mind. In fact wolves are among the most highly social carnivores on the planet with each pack having a specific hierarchical order, and each pack member knowing its exact place in the pack.

These complex social units are very tight-knit families where everyone has the protection of the pack as a whole. A wolf packs main threat is a rival pack, and pack-members will defend themselves and their family members fiercely and to the death if necessary against a rival pack or predator.

8. Hyenas

Hyenas are highly social animals that live together in groups called clans. These clans can have as many as 100 members and each member typically has a specific place in their complex social hierarchy. Unlike many other types of family-oriented animals, like lions, Hyena clans are thought to be ruled by the females of the groups.

On their own hyenas are not exceptionally large animals and stick to smaller prey and scavenging. However when working together, they are able to overpower large prey, even an adult lion.

9. Prairie Dogs

Prairie Dogs are cousins to the squirrels you see in your backyard almost everyday. These ground-dwelling mammals live in family groups called coteries that consist of up to 30 animals. The coterie will usually only have one or two breeding males, the rest will be made up of females and young.

They get the name “dogs” from the barking sound they make when they are communicating to each other. We only hear random squeaking and barking, but scientists believe that Prairie Dogs may have a more complex communication system than almost any other mammal on the planet.

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10. African Wild Dogs

African Wild Dogs live in packs of up to 27 individuals. They are tightly bonded with healthy dogs even caring for sick and injured ones. These South African Wild Dogs are classified as endangered with an estimated 3k to 5500 left in the wild.

Sometimes called Painted Hunting Dogs, African Wild Dogs are incredibly smart, have a very high success rate when hunting, and can run at speeds of up to 44 mph. This list of animals that protect their family wouldn’t be complete without including these wild dogs that are often disregarded as a nuisance animal.

11. Crows

Crows and corvids may not be the first animals you think of when you think of animals with strong family bonds, but crows often live together in family groups. Mating pairs of crows will continue to live with their adult young who will help them raise their new brothers and sisters.

Crows are highly intelligent, believed to be another one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom next to humans. Some studies suggest that crows are as smart as a 7 year old human child.

12. Honey Bees

Honeybee getting pollen

It is well-known that honey bees live in very large families called colonies ruled by a single queen. These colonies can have thousands and thousands of bees in it. There are 3 types of bees in a honey bee colony; drones, workers, and the queen. Each member of the colony has a job, and that’s pretty much all they do all day long.

Worker bees are entirely female and their job is to forage for pollen and nectar, and to pretty much just take care of the colony and the hive. Drones are all males and their one job is to fertilize the eggs that the queen bee lays. If an intruder’s presence is detected, the bees will attack the intruder. The workers are the only ones that are able to sting, and they do die after they sting since the stinger rips out part of their abdomen once it is embedded in its victim.