Humans have used animals to their advantage since pre-historical times. With much of society and technology not working, here is a list of animals, and ways they might be able to help survivors. It is possible that animals could be prone to infections. If the source of the infection is unknown you should be careful when trying many kinds of meat or animal companions. Many mammals are able to get rabies that is one candidate for mutating into zombie virus (Quarantine, Quarantine 2). Many cloven-hoofed animals (sheep, cows) can get mad cow disease which is also candidate for zombie disease (Zombieland). Other animals can also be the source. Another thread should be noted that many diseases can infect animals without affecting them making them carriers. And they are also prone to other diseases that might kill humans. Animals can still be hunted or tamed as food source. Don't kill too many edible ones at the same time or they could end up going extinct.
Steeds and beasts of burdenEdit
Humans have tamed number of animals to make their work easier. Both as a way to travel faster (also check Vehicles) or to carry burdens for them, and even to help with some work. Of course they can also be killed for meat in harder times. Examples of those animals are:
Although being smaller and more stubborn than its larger cousin, the donkey can serve most purposes that the horse can, although more often used to carry burdens than humans. It is harder to frighten a donkey than a horse and it has been shown that they are intelligent. It has also been seen that the presence of a donkey has calming effects on horses.
ElephantEditMan has been using Elephants almost as long as he's been using horses, either in warfare to simply as load bearing animals. An elephant is strong enough to drag a bus, and smart enough to be trained to do a variety of things. Elephants are excellent swimmers, can walk over a pile of dead leaves without making a sound, their dung (gross as is sounds) makes for excellent kindling, and have both excellent senses of hearing, touch, and smell over incredibly long distances. However those large animals can also be very dangerous. Any zookeeper will tell you that these large creatures are among the most dangerous animals in captivity. Males are particularly dangerous, since they occasionally go into musth, or their mating cycle, where they can experience unexpected bouts of rage, and can be vindictive. Elephants in circuses and zoos also tend to have numerous stress disorders, increasing the chances of one turning on its handler. Elephants also require enormous amounts of food and water, with the average adult eating 300–600 lbs. per day. Trying to find that much food and clean water is going to be a real challenge, even in the wild.
The Llama, being common in South-America, has been domesticated since pre-historic times. Its greatest use is to carry heavy burdens and can it easily travel through rough terrain of high mountains. Its use as beast of burden has declined, being replaced by horses. Now they are mainly bred for their wool. Both could be set for good use. Llamas are famous for spitting but in reality they rarely spit on humans. Llamas which are well-socialized and trained to halter and lead after weaning are very friendly and pleasant to be around. They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. However, llamas that are bottle-fed or over-socialized and over-handled as youngsters will become extremely difficult to handle when mature, when they will begin to treat humans as they treat each other, which is characterized by bouts of spitting, kicking and neck wrestling.
Mules are offspring of a male donkey and female horse. They have been bred for ages due to their amazing ability to carry heavy burdens over rough terrains.
CamelsEditThere are two species of camels, the Dromedary, which is only found domesticated in North-Africa, Arabia and Australia, and the Bactrian camel, found in Mongolia. It's easy to know which is which as the Bactrian camel has two humps but the Dromedary one. They are specialized in living in non-polar deserts. Other climates, even moderate ones, can weaken and kill an animal from being too cold, to wet, or other environmental reasons. That said they are excellent for desert travel. The can go long periods of time without water and food. The downside of this is that when they do get food and water after long periods of dearth they consume a lot of both; it is recommended that you do NOT keep food or water from them unless necessary. They are hard to learn to ride well, but even if you can't ride them they make amazing pack animals. They are surprisingly easy to shock train as they will naturally stomp and "chew" on perceived threats making them valuable combat animals. Their biggest problem is they are naturally stubborn when it comes to being ridden. Their milk and meat can also be valuable food sources.
Many cultures in the high Himalayan Mountains have based their life on this large cousin of the cow. They are specialized in surviving in those high mountains and are the best beasts of burden when traveling there. Their meat and milk is also good food source, their fur is good in clothes for surviving the cold up in the mountains, and at last is their dung good fuel for fire.
OxenEditOxen can pull heavier loads, and pull for a longer period of time than horses depending on weather conditions. On the other hand, they are also slower than horses, which has its advantages and disadvantages; their pulling style is steadier, but they cannot cover as much ground in a given period of time. For agricultural purposes, oxen are more suitable for heavy tasks such as breaking sod or plowing in wet, heavy, or clayey soil. When hauling freight, oxen can move very heavy loads in a slow and steady fashion. They are at a disadvantage compared to horses when it is necessary to pull a plow or load of freight relatively quickly.
Some might consider using zebras as a stead. That is not at all recommended due to their nature; they are more likely to panic and all attempts to tame zebras have failed. Some experiments have been made with cross-breeds of zebras and horses but in the end, horses are still better choses.
This is cross between a Zebra and a horse. This is a more reliable and easier to tame steed and possibly faster than a zebra, and stronger and has better instincts than a Horse and Donkey. The Zorse is considered to be the equine with the largest leg to body length ratio, almost 8% more than zebras and more than 10% more than most horses. This feature allows them to run in a fifth speed, faster than the traditional gallop, called gortse (GOR-ST); as in that Zorse is going at a gorste.
Food and furEdit
Although most animals can be used as a food source, many animals have been specially domesticated for that purpose. Also, most skin can be used for leather-making, but many animals produce wool, which has the advantage of being able to be sheared year after year, and is excellent for clothes.
This smaller cousin of the Llama cannot be used as a beast-of-burden. It serves purpose similar to sheep. Its wool is excellent for cloth making.
The goat can serve the most purposes of a cow, providing milk, meat and leather, but is smaller so it needs less food.
Pigs have been domesticated for a long time. They can be fed on leftovers of many kinds, including human feces, reducing the health threat posed by poor sanitation, and make an excellent food source, not to mention they are rugged, tough animals which can take different seasons well. However disease have been known to jump from pigs to humans, such as the Swine Flu.
It is a good source of both meat and wool. Wool is also excellent for clothes, it's warm, even if soaking wet, does not burn easily, and more.
Honeybees could be kept to keep for honey and beeswax. One must wear a bee suit around them, and never let someone allergic around the holding area. Use smoke to calm them down, but never use eugenal oils, the tree's natural defense against insects, or bug sprays.
Rats can be breed fast and cheap, so they are a fast source of protein. However, they are capable of chewing through some of the toughest materials, so they will be hard to contain and keep away from your food stores. Also, historically, rats have carried disease, including the infamous Black Death that killed 1/3 of the population of Europe.
Humans have tamed lot of animals to help them with hunting. Their purpose can be anything from finding prey to bringing it back to you, or simply hunt for you.
Dogs, descendants of the wolves, have followed humans even longer than the cat. They joined the early humans as hunting partners and have been bred and trained for multiple purposes. Canines can be used for hunting and be taught tricks, which might not always have practical use, but can be very entertaining. You can also train it to alert you of an approaching threat, which is valuable in any scenario. The more aggressive breeds such as Pit Bulls and Bull Dogs may be used to fight raiders, not to mention their barking can alert to the presence of nearby raiders, and zombies.
WolvesEditWolves in the wild will avoid humans. In rare cases human can earn the respect and membership in a wolf pack, but those are mostly wolf experts or children that have grown up with them. Also it can be possible to tame them up to some level. If you manage to do that, don't expect the same obedience of a dog. Dogs have been specially bred and trained for centuries. Their purpose would only be as hunting partners. Coyotes may be used just as wolves.
Golden eagles have been used for hunting animals in middle Asia. Although they can be excellent hunters do to great sight, flying skills and more, they are extremely hard to train, and eagle training is a life profession.
Falcons and hawksEdit
Falconry has been a hunting art since medieval times. It is still practiced across the world. Still, it is both hard to learn, and it is hard to get a trained falcon, and even harder to train a wild one. An idea of co-existence between humans and falcons in zombie-infested world, falcons could be living in high places inside fortresses, where they would hunt other birds that plague crops.
Being both large and strong animal, some may be tempted to train bears for hunting or fighting. That is not advised. Bears are often aggressive if you look like you pose as a threat or food, both which many taming techniques might pose you as. Tamed bears are normally trained from birth or young age, for circus tricks like dancing and more. That has been banned as abuse of animals. Trying to control the aggression of a bear is impossible. So the best advice is to simply stay away from bears.
A Lynx may be used as the more cunning and stealthy killer of small animals. They are more sharing than bobcats but less likely to catch something because they are so noisy. They may be raised from birth or in a special occasion when the hunter had found one injured and nursed it back to health; it may grow a liking to the hunter.
Crows have been the hunting partner of wolves for centuries, informing them about nearby injured prey. Crows are very intelligent and can be tamed by skilled bird owners, it is advised to keep a male and a female since the birds might else way become depressed.
Many other animals can be put to practical use
Cats came to humans when they started farming and staying in one place, searching for the basic needs of shelter and food. Cats have helped humans for millenia by keeping food storages and sources safe from rats, mice, small birds and other small animals. In the modern world with rat poisons and traps, cats are now mostly household pets. In zombie-infested world both can be very useful. Cats are known to affect human behavior for the better.
Homing pigeons have been used for a long time to send messages. Their nature to find their way home over large distances makes them excellent mail carriers. Some pigeons even got medals in WWII for their service. If you are traveling long way from your base they can be used to send news or reports home. It should be noted that those messages can only be sent one way.
Canaries were used in coalmines for a long time, as a gas detector. If it stopped singing, the miners knew that here was gas, and if it dropped dead that they needed to get out of there as fast as possible. If needed to travel underground or building a base in a cave, canaries are must. Their song also has calming effects on people.
Leeches could be used in the case of swelling or blood clots near the surface. They are commonly used as so, and are a lot more effective at it than ticks. It is possible that they may even be able to drain the virus out of a survivor.
Dead scorpions, along with slices of ginger, are placed on the faces of people to cure face paralysis. It didn't work 100% of the time but worked occasionally, and may work in the event of an infection.
Many animals are domesticated, or have now do to adavancements in technology, simply to provide companionship to humans. Popular modern day pets are, for example cats, dogs, fishes and more. Also are many exotic animals sold as pets, like snakes, spiders and more. Those animals may or may not serve some direct purpose toward your survival but you should never underestimate the morale boost an pet will provide.
There are many types of wild animals that can be helpful to humans without being domesticated or hunted. Spooked animals may indicate zombies or bandits. Several examples of mutualism between humans and animals have occurred.
These African birds feed on bee wax and larva, but cannot get into the actual beehives. Because of that, they will first find beehives and then lead animals (like humans) to them. If you know how to kill bees with smoke, this can give you valuable food on the African savannahs. Just remember to leave the wax and some larva for the bird, as local folklore says if you don't, he will next time lead you to a lion's den.
One of the more unfamiliar and uncomfortable examples of mutualism. In the remote mountain areas of Tibet and Nepal, which can lead to areas with thin air, vultures have been used in some societies to dispose of the dead. That way of disposal is impractical everywhere else, as burning or burying the body is both physically and psychologically easier than chopping them up and feeding them to the vultures.
Domesticating wild animalsEdit
All animals mentioned above are descendants of once wild animals, domesticated by humans. So you might wonder about domesticating, either wild relatives of domesticated animals or simply animals with traits you think you need. Knowledge about the animal in question is a must. Not all animals can be domesticated and you should study the animal to find out if it is likely to be domesticated. Pack animals and animals that can co-exist with humans are often more likely. Watch the animals and try to find some individual which seems friendly towards humans. Then you can either capture it for further training or give it food regularly until it trusts you and can follow you home. Any taming experience is invaluable when trying to domesticate animal. Don't expect animals to instantly trust you only because you saved their life. Also, don't expect to gain clear "master-servant" connection to the animal. Such trust from the animals' requires centuries of selective breeding. In a few cases you may run into an animal that has a disease that makes them forget their instincts, those may be helpful as pets, but not much else.
Approaching wild animalsEdit
When traveling, longer or shorter ways, you will likely see wild animals. Even in urban environments, they will probably seek shelter and food. Most of animals avoid humans but some may consider you a threat needed to be dealt with or a prey. Here are some general advice which can help you survive those encounters, even without a weapon.
- If approached by a large predator, like a bear or large feline, never show fear. Don't look like it might consider you a prey. Try to look big and give the expression that if it attacks you, you are dangerous. Still try not to make yourself look like you are going to attack it. Simply look like neither threat nor prey. NEVER RUN. If you have seen wolves or large felines hunting you know that they hunt the ones that run, and you are not and will never be as fast or agile as those animals.
- Many animals will protect their young with fiercely. Never get in between them.
- Just because an animal doesn't run from you it doesn't mean that its friendly and you can pet it. Simply walk past it and be ready if it decides you are a threat.
- It is not certain if animals will know the difference between a human and a zombie. That might cause problem, making them more aggressive or more spooked. Although it is unlikely because they can smell the difference.
- Never get in the way of running/spooked herd of animals (like bison or wildebeast). They will not notice when they run over you.