For those of you who live in an environment where your mum controls the family, or if you have a whole load of partners, you can find out how to name your situation right here! There are many different social groupings in to which animals can be divided and here we look at a selection of the major grouping types.
Solitary animals clearly make up the smallest group of animals, seeing as there is only one! These animals only meet up with others during breeding season, after which they go their own way again. Usually the female is left to raise the young. Animals living like this include Snakes and Leopards.
Pairs of animals are common in bird species, with about 90% of birds living as pairs. The male and female usually have a strong bond, often as a monogamous pair.
Family groups describe the situation while the young are living with their parents, so it is really only a temporary extension to the pair grouping. Occasionally older siblings from a previous litter remain, and can even help with rearing the new young.
Harem is a polygynous grouping, where there is one male with multiple female partners. Sometimes this is a permanent setup; otherwise it is a temporary union, breaking up after the breeding season. Harems are common amongst mammals, for example Sea Lions and Zebra.
Matriarchal societies are ruled by the female, generally the oldest and largest female is the matriarch and makes the decisions for the group. Elephants form probably the most famous matriarchal groups, others include Hyenas and Lions (Surprisingly, but the females form the pride, with different males competing to mate with those females. Sometimes females mate with multiple males so all the males think the cubs are theirs and don’t kill them).
Oligarchy describes a society where the members are controlled by a group of dominant males. This has a number of advantages, as a group of males can work together to fend of predators and rival males. Baboons live like this, sharing the females and looking after their joint offspring.
Arena is quite a funny group phenomenon, and occurs amongst some bird populations. The males will group together within a breeding site known as a ‘Lek’ where they all perform to attract females. Each male has his own little performance area, known as the Arena, although the Arena can also refer to the entire Lek. The females will come along and watch, before choosing their favourite, mating with them and then leaving. These guys have quite an incentive to practice their dance moves!
Caste Systems are common in insect populations who have some fascinating social structures, pretty much civilisations. Different members perform particular tasks, all contributing to the success of their society. There are usually Queens, soldiers, workers, drones and maybe kings, as well as potential regal pairs ready to start a new colony, or to replace a deceased leader. Insects where this social structure occurs include ants, termites, bees and wasps. We think we’re smart, but these guys had successful civilisations way before we even existed!