Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads

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#StevesLibrary: The Inner Life of Animals

As some of you my remember, I recently read and reviewed one of Peter Wohlleben’s other books The Hidden Life of Trees – I thought it was time to pick up another one of his books and see what I made of it. I am sceptical of Wohlleben’s writing for a number of reasons including the fact that he tends to over-anthropomorphise animals and plants to the point that they are pretty much human. Despite this I very much enjoyed The Linner Life of Animals as I can happily draw parallels with my own observations of the animal kingdom. It’s light-hearted, it’s warm with the flow and writing style inviting you in for more!

The questions and themes posed within The Inner Life of Animals can only be described as more challenging given their nature. They often go against the norm held by scientists and researches instead and devolve into the romantic – turning the story into something more reminiscent of a Beatrix Potter story rather than the true grit of the real world. Many of you will be aware that Wohlleben’s views on the thoughts and lives of trees were revolutionary especially when most people disregard plants as being able to feel pain or fear. Moving onto the animals, yes discoveries have shown that their social lives are more intricate than we once believed and they’re more intelligent etc, currently Wohlleben has filled in the gaps with his own thoughts and feelings. Whilst this makes a wonderful story, there is an inherent danger with doing this.

The Inner Life of Animals visits a number of different animals which inhabit the forests in which Wohlleben works. Many of them are familiar to those of us who have grown up in Western Europe such as squirrels, hedgehogs and rabbits. The anecdotes are heart-warming and they do have a level of scientific merit but they observations themselves and the conclusions drawn on then should be taken with a pinch of salt. The book is always fascinating (indeed I finished it in almost a single sitting) and is a great introduction to the natural history of a forest for those looking to connect with nature. For the general naturalist, I can see this book being an amazing read and I thoroughly recommend it – it’s just I’d like to see some more science behind the claims Wohlleben has made.

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