The realm of animals includes insects too. In the animal kingdom, the predator hunts the prey and fear is a moment-to-moment experience. One of the main characteristics of animals is ignorance, therefore envy for a pet’s life is inappropriate too.
The consciousness of animals is heavily weighted down by ignorance and is driven by lust and craving. That means it is rather difficult to escape the vicious cycle of rebirth in this lower realm once we find ourselves in it. Personally, I found it quite interesting that artists in the 80s celebrated lust by referencing animals. Westerners refer to a lustful man as a “tiger”, while a woman who lusts for a younger man is known as a cougar. Meanwhile, Chinese culture associates lustful people with animals too. For example, wolves, pigs, vixens, etc. Instinctively, mankind can associate lust with the animal kingdom even when they never heard of Buddhist doctrine.
In addition to the above sufferings, animals are exposed to the elements and suffer attacks from various pests.
When we consider all the above, rebirth in the animal realm is not a happy situation. In fact, it is a dire situation that we ought to be afraid of. in this manner, we should develop a sense of renunciation for rebirth in Samsara. This is because, as long as we stay in Samsara; there is always a risk of us falling into this dire state.
Up till this post, we have explored the dire states of rebirth in the 3 lower realms. Namely, hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.
May all be well and happy.