# What animals would a sedentary centaur civilization domesticate?

The first in a series of questions on building a realistic sedentary centaur culture.

From what I have encountered, centaur civilizations are usually modeled on (semi)nomadic cultures from the Eurasian steppes or the North American plains.

In contrast, the centaurs in my world have developed a sedentary civilization, complete with farms, villages, and large cities. This question is aimed at figuring out which animals you would find in these centaur communities.

Now, I am aware that domestication is a long and difficult process, and demands a lot from the animal one is looking to domesticate. For the context of this question, assume that this is not an issue.

This is my view on the why of humans domesticating animals:

Humans have domesticated a variety of animals for different purposes, each species providing us with something we need, or helping us accomplish something in an easier way. These needs are dictated by our bodies.

On to the centaurs. The humanoid torso part of the centaur is the same size as your average human torso, with the equine parts sized to match. Strength-wise, the equine parts are comparable to horses, and the humanoid parts are comparable to humans. Intelligence is equal to humans. Assume a diet comparable to humans: omnivorous, with a preference for cooked food.

The title question can be separated into two parts:

1. What animals would centaurs domesticate that humans have not, and why?
2. What animals that humans have domesticated would centaurs leave undomesticated?

As to where you may look for animals to domesticate, all biomes are fair game, from fertile, open plains to dense rain forest, to deserts (both hot and cold), mountains and lowlands, arctic, anything. These centaurs live anywhere humans can.

• I think it would be better if you split this into two questions. They have different answers. Also, your title covers only half of the question.
– L.Dutch
Feb 12, 2019 at 18:27
• These needs are dictated by our bodies They are? Frankly, to avoid closure as POB, you should explain why you think centaurs wouldn't domesticate the very same creatures: cows, chickens, dogs, cats, horses (beasts of burden), etc. Why don't centaurs have the same needs as bipeds (companionship, mousing, protection, carrying burdens, BBQ, etc.)? Feb 12, 2019 at 19:37
• Centaurs are unlikely to do well in dense rain forest, they just are not built to move through dense underbrush and unstable ground.
– John
Feb 13, 2019 at 5:07
• do horses exist too? I'm picturing them owning pet horses its weird Feb 13, 2019 at 19:39

Even though your centaurs are sedentary, their equine portion will still require exercise so a sedentary existence for a centaur is going to cover miles of territory. A natural animal for them to domesticate would be the ostrich. It would replace the chicken in a human's diet as it's larger size eggs and body meat would satisfy a hungry centaur. Herding them wouldn't be a problem either. I image that centaur fashion includes a lot of ostrich feathers - at least in their hats and maybe in pillows. (Do centaurs sleep standing up?) I would also believe that centaurs would take up the sport of falconry and maybe add owls to the mix. Owls could also help control the mice population. Partly because these animals can keep up with an active centaur youth and travel distances. I can also image centaurs keeping snakes as pets and for food and leather. As for farming, I can image them cultivating vine and tree crops - training plants to grow so that harvesting of fruit and vegetables is within easy reach. They might allow themselves to be hitched to a farming plow but they are not going to plant many crops that require them to bend down all day especially to do weeding so raised bed gardening with water feed using screw auger to elevate the water to proper level something similar to the hanging gardens of Babylon. The centaur engineers would be masters of using basic simple machines of wheel, pulley, lever, inclined plane, wedge and screw to overcome some of the perceived limitations to bending or vertical climbing. A major career field might be crane operator. Ship builder, sailor and fisher-centaur would also be interesting occupation for coastal dwellers.

• +1 for acknowledging the speed differential between humans and centaurs and its effect on the choice of livestock. Even if this culture is sedentary, a fair amount of domestication either definitely occurred or most likely occurred in nomadic or semi-nomadic cultures, and their livestock would have to be able to keep up. Feb 13, 2019 at 11:53
• The ostrich kicking behavior won't be as a big a deal ot centaurs as it is for humans, the ostriches can't kick high enough to hit anything vital. So the centaurs definitely have a better shot than humans.
– John
Feb 14, 2019 at 5:19

Cat first, to keep mice from grain stores. Cow second, for dairy reasons like humans did. Horses may be tamed like humans do with monkeys... for novelty, but also to help with farm work. They would probably do a lot more domestication of elephants because they actually get a significant increase in available strength. Also, probably smaller more nimble animals. (Monkeys would probably replace dogs for the versatile domesticated animal) as the major centaur limitation would be their large size in inflexibility.

Would not do dogs as a herbivore species doesn't need to hunt, which means they never get tot he other uses. Same with hawk.

• My thought as well for primates as domesticated animals. The major problems centaurs compared to humans in a physical sense is that it's impossible for them to climb anything vertically, and they'd have problems working right on the ground. Which makes building a major challenge: it's easy to pre-fab much of a building's structure such as walls on the ground and then raise it (as we still do), but then how do they work on the roofs? Feb 12, 2019 at 21:36
• The problem wit monkeys is actually domesticating them, humans never managed it.
– John
Feb 13, 2019 at 5:04
• @John One reason we never did is because we didn't try nearly has hard as we did with the dog. Almost everything we could use a monkey for, it was easier to say, "Hey Bob, could you give me a hand with this?" With dogs and hunting, often it was a matter of survival. For building defenses, having a well-trained monkey could also be a matter of survival, so they'd likely put a lot more effort into domesticating monkeys than we did. See how many dog breeds we have compared to monkey breeds. Feb 13, 2019 at 19:52
• Humans domesticated fish, and birds for no reason other than entertainment both of which were by no measure easy, the problem is monkeys are intelligence which you don't want for domestication, intelligent animals do what they want to do not what you want to do. but really centaurs are not getting much from monkeys to begin with, just about all you could use them for is picking fruit. Humans solved that problem by attacking a blade to a stick.
– John
Feb 14, 2019 at 5:15
• I wouldn't really call most birds we've domesticated "domesticated" so much as learned how to get them to imprint on a human rather than a parent bird and then never kick them out of the nest. For example, getting a 'domesticated' bird to respond well to anyone other than its owner is neigh impossible unlike with a truly domesticated animal. The US military has also domesticated dolphins and seals, and they're smarter than the monkeys. As for humans with monkeys, we've gotten them to play music and wear funny suits. They just aren't nearly as domesticated as we'd like. Feb 14, 2019 at 17:46

This almost entirely depends on where centaurs originate from.

Humans domesticated whatever local animals they could (unless they hunted them to extinction first) then later imported a few others via trade routes and bring animals with them when they colonize. Some animals proved very easy to domesticate and extremely useful on top of that. Those are the ones that got traded brought along during migration. Most of the more common domesticated animals come from the southern half Asia The same places we first see widespread agriculture. Cattle, goats, sheep, and poultry spread fast, since they each have many uses. Pigs have the advantage of eating almost anything and being easy to care for, so expect them to be high on the list as well.

But there is a problem here, centaurs are not going to be milking anything, not unless it is job given to young children, or they build special raised floor buildings (unlikely). You have to get fairly low to the ground to milk even cattle. So cattle and goats are less useful. Which leaves you with sheep, pigs, and poultry.

But humans (at least successful ones) also tend to adopt animals that do well in the local climate, so camels, llama, and yaks have a shot. Humans that tried to raise animals in the wrong environment did not do so well, looking at you greenland vikings. Then you had human cultures that never domesticated any animals or only one or two because that was all the local environment had and trade was not a option. So really it all comes down to what is available, centaurs will not all have hte same animals.

The odd ones out are horses and asses which humans moved everywhere but they are really only useful for riding until you have done a lot of breeding, so centaurs are unlikely to ever bother.

Dogs on the other hand are still useful to them for much the same reason they are humans, more so since centaurs are unlikely to have the stamina humans have so they offer even more advantage in hunting and herding. A human can literally walk a horse to death, centaurs will likely have similar stamina to horses, size, fur, and an unguligrade posture do have their drawbacks. It might even be worse since they are stuck with the same large calorie hungry brain we are.

• A setup to allow a centaur to milk a cow is trivial (raised floor, or a ditch to stand in) as you said), but the problem is to get the animal to that point to begin with. Milking began long before barns. Feb 13, 2019 at 17:37
• Thats what I meant by unlikely, they could build a system to do it but they would liekrly never domesticate them for that purpose ot begin with. Although if they are making contact with humans they might learn the benefits of having a milk animal for offspring from humans.
– John
Feb 14, 2019 at 5:22