Mansuetae naturae

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The JC’s guide to pithy Latin adages


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Of an animal,[1] “by its nature, tame”. From the Latin.

An animal of a type generally considered to be domesticated, gentle, tame, and therefore more apt to serve (or be eaten by) than to attack (or eat) its master.

Dogs, (domestic) cats, cows, geese, hamsters: these are mansuetae naturae. If such a beast causes one’s neighbour an injury, its master will only be liable if he knew[2] that the beast had a tendency to engage in the sort of perfidious behaviour which ultimately befell the plaintiff — in Rex v Huggins the mutt in question was an elderly beagle with no known history of incontinence. His master not being liable, to recover the dry-cleaning bill, Mr. Huggins joined Rex to the action. The action succeeded at first instance but was overruled on appeal.

Held, had Rex been a tiger, or a scots terrier, it might have succeeded. A similar action was found in In Re Bassett about a flatulent bloodhound who was partial to Scotch eggs.

A water reservoir is, in the eyes of the law,[3] a sort of domesticated animal with a known predisposition to leak on things. A bloodhound with a weakness for meat-covered eggs is a domesticated animal with a tendency to fart on things.

Chicken Licken is a domesticated animal with a known predisposition to drafting impenetrable disclaimers.

See also

To be contrasted with wild animals ferae naturae[4].


  1. or deliberately collected body of water: see Rylands v Fletcher.
  2. Or ought to have known? Not clear.
  3. Rylands v Fletcher, again.
  4. Like lions, tigers and Scots terriers.