What are domestic animals?

A domesticated animal is any animal that depends on a human for food, water, and shelter. This includes farm animals such as cattle, horses, sheep, chickens, goats, dogs, and cats.

There are relatively few domesticated animals compared to the huge number of species on the planet. As well as the obvious, 'western, farm animal' examples above, there are also a couple of species of insect (e.g. the silk worm) that are classified as domesticated. Certain birds (besides chickens) and fish are also considered domestic, even a species of reptile and amphibian or two.

Domesticated animals also, by definition, need to be able to breed under human, captive conditions. Hence the Indian Elephant, although tamed, is not domestic as new stock are usually captured from wild bred animals.

Animal domestication has played a huge role in the development of differing human civilizations. Horses and camels in Africa, Asia, and Europe and the llamas and alpacas of South America provide an interesting example.

Most, modern domestic animals are recognizable by the selective breeding they have been subjected to over generations of human interference. Thus, the dairy-cow looks little like the Bovines of cave paintings and it has become hard to recognize the dachshund as a descendant of the wolf.