Photograph via snooOG

They say that intelligent life is somewhere out there. But what about right here at home?

Hello, we are /r/AnimalIntelligence. A sub-reddit for discussing intelligent life (other then humans) here on earth. Our goal is to better understand animals and become aware of their intelligence.


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A book which I think portrays rat intelligence realistically

The rat does not speak English or cook meals, but it shows an interest in human technology. The cover art shows a rat looking intently at a pocket watch. It is a known behavior of crows to not only be interested in shiny objects but also to give them as presents to humans who have managed to befriend them. Perhaps rats might do the same sort of thing.

Moreover, in real life rats have been observed apparently deliberately riding in subway cars and getting off at another station as the rat in this book does.

This is an audiobook narrated by Berger entitled The Rider.

20:52 UTC


Virginia Tech researchers seeking participants for a study on pets’ stress

Are pets influenced by their owners' stress? Virginia Tech researchers are recruiting participants for a research study on stress shared between employees and their pets. Participation will consist of completion of an online opt-in survey (10-15 minutes) asking about your pet (dog or cat), your job, and yourself. For more information, please contact Tanya Mitropoulos at tmitrop@vt.edu. Thank you!

Virginia Tech IRB #24-538

03:26 UTC


Cats Cutely React to Grass Patch Hunting Box Toy !!

05:50 UTC


My dog's impressive understanding of shadows

I have two dogs and each has a very different type of intelligence from the other. I will do my best to explain how one of them recently surprised me with her understanding of light and shadows.

In my house, like in many, the backyard sliding glass door sits unaligned to but opposite the front door, of which mine has a white-tinted sidelight. However, between the house layout and the backyard having so much vegetation, it is very rare for any angled light from the backyard to make it's way very far into the house. At least 99% of the time, if there is a shadow casted onto the sidelight of the front door, it is coming from someone/something outside of the front door (or from us and the lights in the house, but then the shadow is too large to define any figures). I make this a point to express that my dog's recent reaction was not based on any "training" or routine event.

Yesterday afternoon, an object I had been cleaning sat in my backyard in a way that it perfectly reflected the light of the sun through the backyard slider all the way to the sidelight of the front door. When I walked by, both of my dogs noticed the shadowed figure of a human on the sidelight and started barking at the person they thought might be out front. Trying to silence them, I opened the door so they could peek out and see no one was there. When they continued to see my shadow a few seconds later, "Dog A" ran back to the front door to sniff in confusion, as she just saw there was no one outside but yet had no other explanation for the shadow. This did not surprise me. However, Dog B instead ran to the back slider to bark and look for which human out back was walking around.

Now, clearly, neither of them were smart enough to immediately realize the shadow was being casted by me from inside the house (although they did eventually accept that fact after I showed them by picking one of them up to cast the shadow of a human holding a dog). However dog B knew that even though the shadow next to the front door is almost always coming from light/objects outside of it, it could instead be coming from behind her, outside of the backyard. This was against what she is used to... how could she consider the object was in the opposite direction if she didn't have such a good understanding of light and shadows?

I'm neither a journalist nor a scientist so pardon me for not having the right words to explain why this is an impressive observation. We are so quick to notice when our baby tracked an object with their eyes for the first time... We all understand the young infant's capability shown by that action. but when it comes to animals I think we often take these moments for granted without thinking of the intelligence value behind them. To me, this was as impressive as knowing a fish can pass the mirror test. And it shows that despite lack of a complex language like ours, animals are much smarter than we think.

19:32 UTC


New animal language processing subreddit

Hello everyone,

I have created a subreddit to discuss animal language processing at r/ALP

I am currently doing research on this topic and would like to discuss with others :)

02:41 UTC


Looking to develop a bibliography of books about Animal Intelligence

Both Non-Fiction and Fiction:

Fiction: (I would prefer more realistic books where the animal behaves more plausibly, but here is a start):

  1. Watership Down (Not sure I have read this in years -- Intelligent Rabbits)

Non-Fiction: (Perhaps some of the things described in these books is open to debate, but they are not completely fictional):

  1. The Parrot's Lament: This is one of my favorites, especially the titular story
  2. The Human Nature of Birds: An older book IIRC
  3. King Solomon's Ring: The author Konrad Lorenz was a pioneer I believe in studies of animal intelligence
13:33 UTC


An amazing video


I honestly believe I have encountered cats who have looked at me with disappointment when they perceived that I did not respect their intelligence.

This video reminds me of a few others. Imagine that we once thought of animals as dumb or lacking empathy:

  1. For plain smarts, the cat touching its ear when it sees its reflection. If your young child had done that, you'd be bragging about it at work the next day.
  2. There is a story of an old man, living alone, who fell and was unable to get up. He was stuck for a long time and finally in desperation, he asked his cat to bring him the cell phone. The cat was the only one who could help him and the cat did. (Not a video, but the producer Billy Rose had fallen as child and the family cat ran to the nearby store (this was 120 plus years ago and I guess people left infants alone in those days) to fetch his mother.
  3. The cat seeing a goldfish in a pond stuck on a projecting rock -- the cat gently nudged the fish back into the water. (I saw a dog desperately trying to save fish on a dock by splashing water on them.)
  4. Perhaps the most amazing cat intelligence video I have ever seen is the one where her kitten has messed up a bed. The mom cat spanks her kitten and remakes the bed. Incredible.
  5. There is a cat named Billi who uses word buttons to communicate. You can argue whether cats and dogs are really using human language, but I saw the cat press "Billi Pet Mom" and sure enough Billi lifted her paw and petted her owner. It is not only showing that the cat could create a simple sentence but beyond that, it demonstrates that the cat thinks about things like occasionally trying to repay her owner.
  6. The cat who discovered light diffraction and moved its paws back and forth behind a glass of water, observing the distortion.

The story I have repeated of Whitey a cat that lived in the 1960s who supposedly could use English in a very sophisticated manner. Although there is no recording or video of this, I do not consider it impossible. The smartest of cats might be as intelligent as, say, a 7 year old human as they assert crows are. We really do not understand how intelligence works, how animals with brains only a small percentage of the size of human brains nonetheless give them intelligence roughly within human range.

As I have suggested many times before, do not be surprised if artificial intelligence allows us to finally communicate with whales who have 8 kilo brains. I would kind of be surprised if we do NOT discover they are our superiors. And it won't even be close. Not merely a different kind of intelligence but a different order of intelligence, as much above us as we are above perhaps the other primates. (Of course, we may not be as above primates as we had thought...)

1 Comment
05:47 UTC


An interesting video about animal consciousness


Irrespective of the philosophical aspects, the beginning is remarkable.

03:05 UTC


Old item about rat riding subway


The interesting question is whether they go into the subways seeking food or they actually use the train to get from one location to another and even return.

My understanding is that both dogs and cats have been known to use public transportation regularly enough to conclude that they really use it as transport and I have further heard it argued that rats are about as intelligent as either dogs or cats (perhaps better at some things than dogs and cats are) so it is not impossible that a rat lives in one location but goes elsewhere for food (almost like commuting for work, isn't it?).

1 Comment
14:38 UTC


Cat sounds that mimic human speech -- what does this mean?

I do not at all accept that the strange noises cats somehow make mean anything at all, or even that the cat is repeating something it heard.

On the other hand, it certainly shows that cats have the vocal apparatus to sound much more like a human than dogs are able to.

Why do cats even have this vocal apparatus?

I am convinced that both dogs and cats occasionally do employ words in the language of their owners. I am sure everyone has seen the husky plainly saying "no" repeatedly in a context that makes sense.

I have also seen the cat upset at going in the car to the vet and pretty clearly saying, resignedly, "We're going..." -- I think the cat meant what she was saying.

I read a story that is hard to believe but I do not completely discount it: Almost 60 years ago there was a cat named Whitey who spoke English, reporting to his owner that a visitor had struck him with a newspaper, etc. Eventually the cat stopped speaking, IIRC after an illness but given that cats are supposed to be as intelligent as a 3 year old human (that sounds high to me) and of course 3 year old humans can speak, it is not so surprising that some cats can speak. And maybe really exceptional cats are as intelligent as 4 or 5 year old humans and one would expect them indeed to be able to speak meaningfully just as a parrot apparently does.

19:58 UTC


Cat-tastic Takeover: When Cats Run the Pet Store!

07:03 UTC


Does my cat understand the concept of physical space?

My beloved cat had a botched spading when she was a kitten and has a ovarian fragment left in her body. The new vet said going back to remove it was an unnecessary risk and my cat now goes into heat for 6-7 days every few months.

My apartment is ridiculously small and my cat has explored every aspect of it (trust me). When she goes into heat; she makes yowling mating calls constantly in her desire for a male cat.

I know she is an animal and the chemicals in her brain are making her do it; but does she really think a male cat will show up? As far as she knows; this apartment is the entire universe and nothing exists beyond it. We don’t let her leave the apartment as we live in the city and would never want to lose her.

23:44 UTC




I think we really have had no idea what animals are capable of and the reason we are only recently finding this out is this:

100 years ago basically animals were food, vermin or working animals. It is only relatively recently that wild animals have figured out we are -- usually -- not dangerous to them and will often help. It is not just mammals and birds. Even turtles have sought human help.

This fox not only sought human help but drew conclusions: If we helped her kit, we must be friends. It behaves just like a dog or cat. Outside chance I suppose that the mother had been a pet, but I have never met anyone who had a fox as one -- fennec foxes are even unusual and that sure was not one.

17:27 UTC


Do horses understand races?

I think I read that female horses in human-organized races actually will defer to males by letting them win.

This is somewhat plausible to me -- in nature, although males will also fight with each other, perhaps they also assert dominance by showing they are the fastest.

I have met more than one person in the horse racing business. One was a horse vet and he was quite sure that horses don't have the brains to understand that they are in a race but a trainer seemed to believe that horses do in fact get the situation and will try to win even without the jockey's urging.

If not all racehorses understand, perhaps the most successful ones do. I recall that champions are supposed to be more intelligent than other horses -- one actually picked up a rake in its stable and imitated the human who cleaned out its stall and another was observed tossing a stick in the air and catching it in its mouth.

In general, whenever someone asserts that animals are mindless, I am skeptical -- as I have mentioned before, all recent studies I have read have tended to show animals are more intelligent than previously believed. And since horses have pretty much one major "skill", which is running, why shouldn't they grasp the concept of racing?

19:32 UTC


Is it really true that shelter dogs (maybe cats too) understand being adopted?

seems like they might.

we have underestimated the minds of animals, I think.

07:05 UTC


Old Story About an Orca

Not sure when I read this but I think before internet, the book is from 30 years ago:

One story that I think I read in the book The Parrot’s Lament (a great book about animal intelligence) is a male orca scanned its pregnant mate and then acted angry/sad and it turned out that the orca baby was later stillborn. So we see an animal understanding the concept of pregnancy and incidentally is able to perform a test/diagnostic that was only developed by humans in the past half century or so. (Sonogram.)

It may have been about same male orca in same or different book where the orca understood a human needed a platform to stand on when they were moving the female into or from the tank and so he stayed still and allowed the man to stand on him -- weighing 5 tons, holding a 200 lb human steady is not a problem.

06:17 UTC


Puffer Fish Nests -- Have you seen?

It is only within the past 20 years or so that it was discovered that Spirograph-like geometric patterns in the sand were created by male puffers for mating purposes -- trying to attract a female who will lay eggs in structure if she likes it.

Similar to the bower bird in this. I have read that bowers are intelligent in other ways -- their nest-building behavior could hardly be accounted for if they were not intelligent for such birds seem to get inspired by looking at bowers built by other males and will steal components or entire nests (a backhanded compliment especially if they kill you for it which happens).

I have read that puffer owners consider their fish unusually intelligent and I saw a remarkable video in which a pair of puffers were seen with one tangled in a net fragment.

While a diver worked to free its friend/mate/sibling/offspring, the puffer waited nearby (close enough for the diver to touch it) calmly and when the tangled fish had been freed, both puffers swam off together. Tell me that does not suggest high intelligence!

1 Comment
13:53 UTC


Crocodiles helping baby turtles to ocean?

I have seen a video (not sure how many times this behavior has been observed or recorded) that shows an adult female croc helping hatchling turtles to the ocean.

It has been suggested that the croc is confusing baby turtles with its own young.

I would argue that certainly a croc can tell the difference between baby turtles and baby crocs.

I suggest that this behavior is either simply altruism, just as a human would try to help small creatures or perhaps more likely is that the extremely long-lived croc understands that the turtles grow up and lay more eggs -- this is then a sort of long-term farming activity, if indeed crocs sometimes eat turtles and/or their eggs.

Crocs may be the most-intelligent reptiles and they can live a century or more so they are likely to have good memories which serve them for example in their long-distance navigation to obtain foods (animals) that are available in different locations and times.

02:24 UTC


video full of intelligent animals

15:46 UTC

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