Skip to content

Duck plays dead to avoid being killed by dog

Duck plays dead to avoid being killed by dog standing over it
Duck plays dead to avoid being killed by dog standing over it

Duck plays dead to avoid being killed by dog standing over it. Screenshot.

Playing dead is called ‘tonic immobility’. Some duck species do it as we can see in the video. It occurs in other animals as well. The objective is the obvious one: to hope that the predator goes away because they lose interest in chasing prey as there is an innate instinct to chase fleeing prey animals. It is a defensive response.

In each occurrence it is a response to an extreme threat. The animal becomes temporarily paralysed and unresponsive.

When people become paralysed with fear, in other words they freeze in the face of an extreme threat, I think this is the stage before playing dead. It’s a version of playing dead in my book. And when humans can either run away or fight they do sometimes go into tonic immobility which is also called thanatosis.

In some animals, thanatosis is also used to make it easier for a male to mate with a female. The French biologist Georges Pasteur described it as a form of mimicry or camouflage when the animal mimics itself as in a dead state.

The animal best known for thanatosis is the Virginia oppossum which is why playing dead is sometimes called “playing possum”. It can also mean to pretend to be injured, unconscious or asleep.


Abused pigeon at pub adopts young woman who likes vintage things

Pigeon in a pub adopts young woman and they go home together

This is the strange story of a pigeon who had been abused by young people in a public house in ...
Read More
White-tailed eagle chick hatching

First ever video footage of a wild white-tailed eagle hatching in the UK

The video shows a white-tailed eagle chick hatching at RSPB Scotland Abernethy nature reserve. The parents are called Shona and ...
Read More
Tethered hawk

UK government will phase out bird of prey tethering by December 31, 2027

The UK government has consulted with zookeepers on zoo standards in England, Wales and Scotland and agreed that bird of ...
Read More
Unusual for a person to pick up a swan on a bridge and carry it about 80 yards to the river

Man picks up swan from sidewalk on bridge and carries it 80 yds to the river

It is unusual for a person to pick up a swan and carry it about 80 yards to the river ...
Read More
Crows trained to pick up litter butts in Sweden and other countries

Intelligent crows trained to keep streets clean by picking up cigarette butts

SODERTALJE, NEAR STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN-NEWS AND COMMENT: Crows are being trained to pick up cigarette butts. The birds receive a food ...
Read More
Bhagvanji Rupapara's dove nest boxes made from clay pots and a steel frame. Image: The Times.

Indian farmer builds a 40-foot-high dove nest tower for 2,500 doves

NEWS AND COMMENT- NAVI SANKALI VILLAGE, GUJARAT, INDIA: A farmer, Bhagvanji Rupapara, has spent almost all his savings in constructing ...
Read More