How Long Does It Take To Domesticate An Animal?

By Antonia Čirjak on June 16 2020 in Did You Know

To domesticate an animal means that there is a relationship between the human and the animal.
To domesticate an animal means that there is a relationship between the human and the animal.
  • During the process of domestication, animal species changes, or evolves to become more accustomed to human interaction.
  • It takes generations for the genome shift to happen in animals for them to be considered domesticated.
  • For domestication to work, animal species need to grow and mature quickly, otherwise, it would not be efficient to farm them.

To domesticate an animal means that there is a relationship between the human and the animal, a relationship of influence and care. Humans have been domesticating animals for a long time for various reasons such as augmentation of food obtained through hunting and gathering.

Dogs were among the first of the animals that have been domesticated by people, and today, animals such as dogs and cats have been genetically adapted to coexist in relationships with humans. Unfortunately, there is no exact number of days that need to pass for an animal to become domesticated. It depends on several factors.

What Do The Animals Prefer?

Initially, humans used animals only for food, but eventually, they found out that many of the animal species can be used to help them with work, transportation and provide them with clothes during winters. Over time, human beings have been able to adjust the protective and suspicious nature of animals and thus they became more docile around people.

During this process of domestication, animal species changes, or evolves to become more accustomed to human interaction. Some historians, like Stephen Budiansky, believe that animals chose their domestication. According to him, certain animals prefer to co-exist in communities with human beings and that some species would be extinct if they were left in the wild. Whatever the truth is, humans owe a lot to animals, as they gave big contributions to the advancements of our lives.

What Is The Domestication Process?

It is important to differentiate between taming and domestication.
It is important to differentiate between taming and domestication.

It is important to differentiate between taming and domestication. Put simply, taming is learned behavior that is not inherited in future generations of that animal, while domestication refers to a change in the genome that does influence the future generations. For example, if you were to raise a baby bear, hand-feed it, and nurture it, there is a chance that the animal would be safe to keep around humans.

However, if that bear had children, there would be no inheritance of their learned behavior and friendliness around humans. It takes generations for the genome shift to happen in animals for them to be considered domesticated and they need to be modified apart from their ancestors by humans. According to Jared Diamond, an evolutionary physiologist, humans can domesticate almost any animal. However, certain requirements need to be met according to Diamond.

For domestication to work, animal species need to grow and mature quickly, otherwise, it would not be efficient to farm them (elephants, for example, take up to 15 years to reach adulthood). It would take to much time to feed and care for animals that have a longer life span according to Diamond. They need to be breed in captivity, be methodical eaters that eat plant-based food, have a relatively acceptable and good personality that makes it easier for them to adapt to a different condition. 

What Makes An Animal Suitable For Domestication?

This effectively excludes some of the species from the animal kingdom, such as pandas, zebras or elephants, due to their somewhat aggressive nature and longer lifespans. According to all of this information, it follows that domestication depends on many factors. It happens because of selective breeding and because certain animals display desirable traits and that can be passed to future generations of that species.

Because of artificial selection, humans were able to make decisions of desirable traits and increase the chances of the offspring having those traits through generations of breeding.

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