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East African Chimpanzee © Michel Gunther / WWF

East African Chimpanzee © Michel Gunther / WWF

Animals that appreciate their home

06 Apr 2020

Keywords

There’s nothing quite like home with all its creature comforts right on hand. You know where everything is and it’s all your choice, your taste, all those things you love, like and treasure. There are so many stay-at-home creatures in nature who just love the cosy life, so cosy that some of them literally never want to leave home. And that’s okay - because home is a sanctuary - just as it is for humans. In this time, isolation can feel very challenging, but these animals remind us of the security, warmth and comfort that comes when we #StayAtHome, and what connects and unites us on our one beautiful planet.

So, why not take inspiration from some of our wildlife who are experts at staying at home?

 

Home Sweet Home

Pagurus, Half Moon Caye, Belize, Central America © Antonio Busiello/WWF-US
Hermit crabs like to feel safe, so they squeeze their long spirally abdomens inside an empty snail shell. But before leaving the old home and moving into the new one they carefully inspect the potential new property. Seriously, these crabs are very choosy and there’s a lot of competition in the market for a five-star shell. Often they’ll leave their current abode, move in and try the new one on for size and decide the fit just isn’t them, so return to the comfortable old residence.

 

Spiral abodes

Snail Species © Edward Parker / WWF
The patient snail may not move very fast but nor does it need to. Not with that spiral shell loaded on the back. A snails’ home is made from a hard structure composed of calcium carbonate that protects their soft body and internal organs. It’s comforting to know that as they grow their shell grows, so they’ll always feel safe and always be able to draw themselves inside to escape the world.

Designer Homes

Macropus Parryi Whiptail wallaby With Joey © Martin Harvey / WWF
It looks like a plain and simple pocket but it’s not. A female wallaby’s pouch is a nursery. Furry on the outside and hairless on the inside this luxury home designed by Mother Nature is lined with sweat glands that release antimicrobial liquid to keep the joey safe from germs and parasites. Carried around in a comfy pouch all day and night it’s no wonder some joeys chill out in their mum’s pouch up 8-11 months.

A room with a view

Smiling Quokka © Christine Mendoza / Unsplash
Pouches are seriously underrated. There’s no doubt that they are a prestige apartment.
Take this proud quokka mother and snuggling joey for example. It’s no wonder they’re called the happiest animal in the world, they’re both glowing. Joey is there for a cosy six months of protection, warmth and suckling. Mum is content in the knowledge that she can provide everything to assist her joey in growing up strong and healthy. Even once they’ve left the comfort of the pouch, baby quokkas are still known to hop back into safety when frightened.
 
A home with a dome

Giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra) © Antonio Busiello / WWF-US
Tortoises are sensitive. Well, at least their shells are sensitive, and like the turtle, the tortoise's shell has nerve endings. But this reptile should feel pretty safe because their hard homes are often built with high domes that withstand weather, outside forces and predators. And if that’s not enough security, not only can they retract their heads inside their residence for protection, because the shell is made of living materials, it can slowly repair itself and regrow. 

 

Close to home

Bornean Orangutan © naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF
Some kids just don’t want to leave home. And the bond between an orangutan mother and child is one of the strongest in nature. For the first two years of life, a young orangutan relies entirely on its mum for both food and transportation. Mothers stay with their young for 6-7 years, teaching them where to find food, what and how to eat and the technique for building a sleeping nest. Female orangutans even get homesick and are known to “visit” their mothers until they reach the age of 15 or 16.

 

A sense of community

East African Chimpanzee © Michel Gunther / WWF

There are all sorts of reasons to stay at home. Chimpanzees, like humans, love their family and community so much they choose to stay together. And it’s that sense of community that gets them through life, through good times and tough times. They laugh, love, fight and comfort each other and chimps socially groom each other, not just to clean each other’s bodies but to reassure as well as maintain friendships.

 

House and garden

Dusky garden eels (Heteroconger enigmaticus) © Jürgen Freund / WWF

Garden eels ‘grow’ from the ocean floor, usually near coral reefs. They look like delicate plants waving in their watery garden. They sort themselves into colonies that range from dozens to hundreds of individuals. Each fish digs its own burrow. From this, just a third of its body sticks out to capture food on the drifting currents. The garden eel rarely leaves its burrow and only shifts its burrow closer to each other for contact during the breeding season.