7 Animals That Are Smarter Than You Think

A List Of Animals That Are Smarter Than You Realize

contributed by Kate MacDonnel

We don’t give animals enough credit for how smart they are. Assumptions are almost everything for the average person’s view of animals, but careful observation has shown us a peek into the animal mind. Check out some animals that are much smarter than you thought!

1. Pig

Pigs get a bad rap. They’re either seen as dirty or dangerous, mostly depending on whether or not they’re in a pen. Porky Pig is a common perception, something of a dumb animal.

The truth is that pigs are incredibly intelligent. Those who’ve studied them closely put them on par with dogs when it comes to cognitive ability. They actually outperform most breeds of dogs consistently.

The intelligence of a full-grown hog is about on par with that of a 3-year-old child. On top of that, they’re even more trainable than cats and dogs! That’s a lot of brains for an animal we don’t normally associate with intelligence.

2. Goldfish

The 14-second memory of a goldfish is a common joke. Most people have heard it, and often people assume it’s true.

In truth, goldfish are quite intelligent. Some people have even trained them to jump through hoops for treats. They’re also quite alert, watching what’s going on outside of their aquarium constantly.

Goldfish have been domesticated for a long time, with tons of morphs available. They do well in captivity, but most people never bother to see how smart they are. It’s an impressive set of traits for a fish associated with having a terrible memory.

3. Squirrels

Squirrels are often thought of as… less than bright. Farmers in the West have to deal with ground squirrels, and they’re often seen as flighty critters. They’re undeniably cute but definitely not domestic. Since you can’t really tame or train one, most people assume they’re on the dimmer side.

Squirrels actually show quite a bit of cognitive ability. They store food away for the winter, show exceptional problem-solving abilities, and have a complex communication system. They use both sound and scent to chatter with other squirrels to share information about possible danger and food sources.

Scientists are still studying them, but it turns out the secret lives of squirrels are more complex than we previously thought.

4. Jumping Spiders

Arthropods don’t have much going for them in the way of intellect. Hive insects like ants aside, they don’t really show much more than base primal drives.

Enter the humble jumping spider, which has shown advanced problem-solving skills. They show the ability to trace out routes in advance, dodging predators and finding their prey. They can even learn to manipulate orb-weaver webs to bring in small ones or keep larger ones from attacking them.

This extended cognition is a surprising find, but it makes sense since they are generalized predators. These little guys have big brains, especially for their size!

5. Crows

Everyone knows that crows are clever, but their intellect goes a bit further than that. They’ve been shown time and time again to be one of the smartest animals on the planet.

Crows can remember individual humans for a long time, and even communicate how to identify them to their group. Dangerous individuals can be avoided, or even harassed by the crows. People who regularly feed them, on the other hand, often find small gifts left behind.

Crows also use tools like probes. They can find a sharp stick or cactus spine and use them to find food. They’ve also been observed dropping nuts on roads and retrieving the contents after they’ve been run over.

While crows and ravens get the spotlight, it’s actually the entire family of birds that’s intelligent! Something to think about the next time you see a Blue Jay.

6. Octopi

Octopi have an impressive brain, there’s no way around it. These short-lived creatures have been solving mazes and opening puzzle containers easily for a long time. They’re adept at problem-solving, one of the big hallmarks of intelligence.

Most researchers who’ve worked with these critters have anecdotes about their intelligence. A common theme runs through them: octopi will use everything they can in order to retrieve food!

While a bit single-minded, octopi have shown cognitive skills on par with a 3-year old child. They’re ahead of most of the “intelligent” land animals, which leaves the cephalopods on our list of surprisingly bright animals.

7. Rats

Most people’s experience with rats is unpleasant. Those who keep them know that these little rodents have serious brain power. The famous maze training aside, rats show their intellect in more ways than most animals.

One of the biggest intellectual feats of rats is their communication. They’re able to give each other important information, including where traps are and how to avoid them. If you’ve ever trapped rats, you know that constantly moving traps and trying new techniques is the only way to thin the herd.

As pets, they can learn tricks and voice commands. One of the most important parts of their care is making sure they’re intellectually stimulated with toys and regular social interaction.

Whether they’re pests or pets, however, no one can deny that rats punch above their weight when it comes to smarts!