15 Smartest Animals in the World

People are always trying to understand the animal kingdom and scientists have been studying different animals for years. We do know that their world is different from ours and each animal has its own unique intelligence, instincts and survival tactics. Animals have their own world just like people do and have their own special way of communicating. In order to understand animal intelligence, some scientists take the animals to the lab, study them and learn their different behaviors. In this book we will talk about some of the smartest animals in the world and some information about why they are considered intelligent.

Some of the animals that are rated as the most intelligent may surprise you! We will start with the least intelligent of the 15 and finish off with the most intelligent. Can you guess which animals are the smartest? I will bet that you already know a few of them, but I think that some of the animals listed here might just surprise you!

#15. Sheep

Smartest Animals

There are many sheep in the world, almost 1 billion. A lot of people think that sheep are “stupid” because they all flock together, however, their only protection from predators is to band together. Sheep have a very strong flocking instinct which means that they will always try to be with the herd.

Sheep have a very good memory. They can remember the faces of up to 50 other sheep for up to two years. They can even remember a person’s face and pick them out of a crowd. Scientists in Australia were surprised that sheep performed well in a maze. They were able to go through a difficult maze without any mistakes in 12 seconds.

When a sheep gets sick he has the ability to seek out plants in nature that will help him get well, and stay away from the plants that are poisonous.

Hungry sheep in Great Britain taught themselves how to roll 8 feet across hoof-proof metal grids to raid gardens in the village. They lie down on their sides or back and roll over and over until they are clear. (BBC News, July 2004) This shows that Sheep are a lot smarter that most people think!

#14. Pigeons

Smartest Animals

Do you love going to the park and feeding the pigeons? If you do, you must know that pigeons are actually smart.

Pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet! Like some parrots, they have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror.

The alphabet of the English language contains 26 letters and pigeons know all the letters. Pigeons can tell the differences between two different photographs and even paintings. They can even identify two different people in a picture.

Pigeons have better eyesight than people and can even see some colors we can’t see with our normal eyesight. That is why they are now being used to save people at sea. Project Sea Hunt has trained pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets floating in the water. They found that pigeons were quicker and more accurate than people when it came to finding survivors in a sinking boat.

When pigeons are released as far as 400-600 miles away from home they have the ability to find their way back, in some cases that same day. This is why they were used as messengers in earlier times.

#13. Rats

Smartest Animals

If you see a rat in your house you may shriek or scream in fear! Rats have been given a bad rap so that we sometimes forget how smart they actually are.

Not only do rats have amazing physical abilities but they are also good at problem solving and can remember things for a long time. They learn new behaviors and tricks very easily. They have an amazing sense of smell and hearing. They have even been trained to detect land mines and bombs.

Rats can easily find their way through a maze. At first, it may be difficult but eventually they always find their way out after several trials. Once they figure it out, they don’t forget it.

Rats like to be with each other and if you have a pet rat, it will enjoy your company. Rats can show different feelings such as being sorry, excitement, stress and loss. They dream just like us and like to be organized, neat and tidy.

Rats can also measure how deep or far down a place is which is referred to as depth perception. Rats can swim for 72 hours. Rats have a survival instinct which means that before they settle in an environment, they scope it out first.

Rats are also used by many scientists to test behavioral theories related to humans which is a fancy way of saying they study why people act the way they do. Did you know that rats have also been trained to associate a sound with food? They can then be trained to make the sound and then get their food.

It is not easy to poison a rat because they will only eat a small portion of a new food. If it makes them sick, they will not eat the rest of the food. Rats have also learned to avoid traps because they can smell the scent of a rat that has disappeared. This is why it is difficult to catch them.

#12. Octopus

Smartest Animals

Octopuses are sea creatures with 2 eyes and 8 legs that live in the depths of the ocean. The octopus is considered the smartest invertebrate (has no bones) alive. Scientists have found that these amazing creatures have really good memories. They are intelligent, not in the same way people are, but they are able to learn about their environment from watching and using their brains to solve problems. This allows them to survive. They are not taught by their parents because they are basically on their own once they are born.

Octopuses can easily change their shapes to escape a trap. They have squishy bodies that can be easily reshaped to allow escape from tricky situations.

They have 2 brains which helps them learn about their environment and adapt as fast as possible. Scientists have discovered they actually have part of their brain in their arms! They have incredible keen eyesight, sense of touch and are very fast.

When attacked, octopuses cut off their arms and escape from predators. The arms grow back eventually after a few weeks. Octopuses create a safe environment by cleaning out the front of their dens, getting their food and then they close the entrance by gathering rocks before they go to sleep. Octopuses can open jars with their arms and they have been known to board ships to steal food.

#11. Squirrels

Smartest Animals

Squirrels are very sneaky or deceptive which allows them to bury their food in the ground without being caught. Using these skills, they can hunt and gather large stores of food. They can jump 10 times higher than their bodies so they can escape traps and any tricky situations. Squirrels have ankles that rotate 180 degrees. This allows them to maintain a grip when climbing no matter what direction they are facing. Squirrels can also learn about their environment and how to survive in it by watching how other animals do it. For instance, by watching people cross the road, squirrels can learn when or not to cross the road.

Squirrels have a motherly instinct and take care of their young just like people do. They can feed them and look for food until their little ones are able to take care of themselves. Squirrels try to keep each member of their species safe.

#10. Pigs

Smartest Animals

Pigs are not only good for eating! Did you know that pigs can be trained to do all sorts of tricks? In fact, those who have pigs and dogs as pets will tell you that a pig can outdo a dog in everything related to learning tricks! A pig can learn tricks or understand language sometimes better than certain breeds of dogs. Pigs can learn to do things or actions very fast. They are the perfect animals for the circus because they can jump through hoops and do other circus tricks. They also have a very good memory and recognize humans from the way their face is shaped.

Mirrors work through reflection. Pigs understand how reflected images work and use this to their advantage. They can look for food or protect themselves from their predators by using reflected images to see predators that may be hunting them.

They also have an amazing sense of smell which is why they are often trained to hunt truffles, (fancy mushrooms) Did you know that pigs cry when they get hurt or feel pain? Pigs are cleaner than dogs or cats and the only reason they roll in the mud is to keep cool as they have no sweat glands.

For those who keep pigs as pets, a pig can learn its name within a few weeks. Pigs are fast and can run for 1.6 km in 7 minutes. This helps them escape their attackers by running as fast as possible. Pigs can eat anything in their environment which means that their digestive systems are ready for anything. Thanks to this, they don’t get hungry even when in an unfamiliar environment.

#09. Cats

Smartest Animals

Many people don’t know that cats are very capable of learning things by copying what they see or by trial and error. Some experts believe that they are just as intelligent as dogs, but we haven’t found a way to communicate as well with them. They seem to respond best if you can find something they really like for example, a particular treat, food or attention. Cats can be toilet trained, taught to open doors and windows and have been even shown to perform tricks that dogs can do. Cats are also incredible hunters and just like lions, can work together when they need to bring down a larger prey.

Cats also adapt to their environment very fast. They can learn where to hide, where to sleep and what to do in a different environment. Lastly, cats have a motherly instinct where they take care of their young until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Cats feed their young kittens until they are old enough to eat meat.

#08. Dogs

Smartest Animals

We all know that dogs are very intelligent creatures. Some experts believe that a fully grown and well trained dog has the intelligence of a 2 to 3-year-old child. Firstly, dogs can understand the human language and the tone of your voice. Secondly, they also understand gestures and signals that we make. Thirdly they can show a wide range of emotions including happiness, sadness and sulking.

Dogs are referred to as man’s best friends because they can form strong relationships. If you treat your dog properly, it will offer you protection against anything. Dogs like to follow their owners around, play and be affectionate. This allows them to bond with their owners.

There are dogs that have saved little children who had been abandoned by their parents and carried them to the nearest hospital. This means that dogs have a survival instinct and can protect even those that can’t take care of themselves.

Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and that’s why they are used by Police to sniff out drugs. They are also used to follow the scents of escaped prisoners and lost children. There are many dogs that have discovered criminals, kidnappers, escaped prisoners etc. Dogs are also very loyal to their owner and can identify with different people of the same family. This is why dogs bark at intruders but never members of the family. Once a dog identifies with a particular family, it tries to protect all the members of the family from any harm.

#07. Parrots

Smartest Animals

We all know that parrots can be trained to copy how people speak but did you know that some species of parrots are able to associate words with their meanings? There is a limit to the number of words they can say, however some parrots have learned more than 100 words in the English language and have formed sentences using them.

Remember the round toy with different shaped holes and sometimes with different colors? Well a parrot can successfully insert all the blocks in the correct hole and match the color! Some experts believe that a fully trained parrot can be as intelligent as a 2 or 3-year-old. Parrots from New Zealand can even recognize themselves in the mirror!

Parrots form very strong bonds with their owners and can stay with one owner for a very long time. They can also identify with other members of the family. Parrots have some of the most beautiful colors in the animal kingdom.

#06. Crows

Smartest Animals

A crow may not look as pretty as some birds, but some experts believe that they are one of the most intelligent birds. They can recognize and even use tools like knives or they can skewer their prey on sharp objects. They can recognize people by the features in their faces. They have been known to drop hard, shelled nuts on rocks or even roads in order to get to the nuts inside. Crows also know how to fish using bread crumbs or even their own vomit as bait.

Crows can also mimic lots of different voices, like parrots and they understand how to play. Crows are very smart because they have the ability’ to plan for anything. For example, when gathering food, they store lots of food in case the farmers’ crops don’t grow that well.

#05. Elephants

Smartest Animals

Elephants are the largest mammals in the planet. Because they are so large, elephants never run. When attacked, elephants basically trod very fast to escape.

Elephants have an incredible memory, which is where the saying comes from, “An elephant never forgets”. For instance, if someone has hurt an elephant in the past, it stays in its memory for a long time. An elephant also remembers their friends who have been kind to them.

They can follow a path to water and other landmarks that they haven’t travelled to in years. They are a very social animal, which means they are friendly to many other animals. They will help other animals, even people. They have one of the closet knit families in the whole animal kingdom. When an elephant in the herd is hurt, other elephants will help it. When a baby elephant complains, they will go over and caress it. Elephants also are sad when an elephant in the herd dies.

Elephants have what is called “cultural memory”. This means that elephants can pass along information from one generation to another.

Elephants can mimic sounds they hear and can even paint with their trunks. They cry, work, play, laugh and use tools from their environment. They also have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. Elephants can also be trained to perform tricks in the circus.

#04. Monkey

Smartest Animals

Monkeys in general are also extremely intelligent and also share most of the same characteristics as people. Scientists have done many studies on them. They have an excellent memory and have the ability to learn new things and make their own decisions.

They use expressions on their faces that are much the same as what we use. They can recognize one person from another as well as basic shapes and colors.

Monkeys can also communicate using sign language. They can communicate to each other by calling out using different sounds. They can make different shapes or gestures with their bodies or arms to communicate with other monkeys. Monkeys attack their enemies and protect themselves by making dead branches fall on to their attackers. They also throw things such as fruits or other objects at the predators.

#03. Whales

Smartest Animals

Whales are some of the largest mammals. The length of a whale is about the same size as 150 small cars. Unlike other sea creatures such as fish, whales need to come out of the water for air because they are mammals. Therefore, although they live in the deep seas, once in a while they can be found near sandy beaches. Also, just like dolphins, whales can jump up and down in the water in search of fresh air.

Whales have very large brains, even larger than human brains. With this large brain they can adapt to their environment and improve their survival tactics. Scientists have found these special cells in whales called spindle cells. These are the cells in people that are related to love and emotion and have only been found in one other animal, the great ape.

Studies have shown that whales can solve problems and use tools and that they show grief and joy, especially when a family member dies. Whales are excellent at working and hunting together. Whales like to stick together and they have a way to communicate, even over long distances.

#02. Dolphins

Smartest Animals

Dolphins are not only adorable but have very large brains and are extremely intelligent animals. They are very social and live in pods of up to a dozen other dolphins. They can communicate with each other using whistles, clicks and other noises.

One very interesting fact is that dolphins sleep with only one part of their brain in sleep mode at a time, so half of their brain stays awake and the other half asleep. Since they are mammals, this allows them to breathe and watch for possible predators.

Dolphins have amazing eyesight and can hear sound ten times or more above the upper limit of a person. Their teeth act like an antenna and receive incoming sound so they can tell the exact location of an object.

Dolphins know how to solve puzzles, work together, follow instructions and learn from things that have happened in the past. The female dolphin will pass on her knowledge to her calves.

Dolphins can learn a large amount of commands by people. They are sometimes used by the military for things such as finding mines, rescuing lost or trapped people and delivering messages between ships.

Dolphins have the ability to care which has been shown where one dolphin will risk its life to save another dolphin or a person.

#01. Great Apes

Smartest Animals

Apes are nearest to human beings when it comes to physical characteristics. It is not surprising that apes are considered as one of the smartest animals in the world, next only to people. In fact, apes are so intelligent that they have their own basic language and society, and are naturally curious. Some apes are so intelligent they are not only able to use tools, but also make basic tools.

Great Apes can communicate using sign language, body shapes or sounds. They can understand each other using basic body movements or gestures. Great Apes are very social and live in packs to prevent attacks from predators. They take care of their children until they are old enough to survive on their own.

One surprising fact is that 98% of the great ape’s genes are the same as ours. They can recognize themselves in the mirror, and just like us, they can kiss, snuggle, tickle, laugh, and can count. They are very trainable and have their own language.

They have what is called “joint attention”, which means an ape can focus on an object when another ape is pointing at it. Pointing can mean using their finger, head or even eye movement.

They are also very social and love making friends with other animals. Great Apes have large brains and can memorize many things in their environment.


Scientists have disagreed on the order of the above smartest animals. Using tests and theories they have come up with different hypothesis or guesses that some animals are smarter than others. All the animals mentioned above have a certain degree of intelligence which allows them to survive in their different environments. Also, most of the animals mimic human behaviors and are used by scientists to come up with treatments for human diseases.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of