English Across the Curriculum

The World of Mammals

Senses of Mammals

Mammals have five senses that tell them what is happening in their surroundings. Not all senses are developed equally among mammals.

Mammals rely on a sense of smell to find food and warn them of their enemies. Many species use smell to communicate with each other. Humans, apes and monkeys have a relatively bad sense of smell. Taste helps mammals identify the food that they eat.

Most mammals have a good sense of hearing. Some mammals use their hearing to detect objects in the dark. Bats, for example, use sounds to navigate and detect tiny insects. Dolphins also use such a system to find their way around.

While higher primates, like humans, apes and monkeys have a highly developed sense of sight other mammals are nearly blind. Most of these mammals, like bats, are active at night.

Mammals have a good sense of touch. They have nerves in all parts of their body that let them feel things. Cats and mice have whiskers with which that they can feel themselves around in the dark.

The whiskers of a cat help them feel things
Image:  Wolf ReynoldsCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons