Smartest Animals

It goes without saying that humans are the most intelligent animals ever. We have long taken pride in our intellect, power to make groundbreaking inventions, memory, cognitive and learning abilities.  But the intelligence of animals need not be disregarded. They don’t lag far behind us. In fact, in some respects, they have proved they fare better than us! Take, for example, dolphins. While we have invented SONAR technology to track enemy submarines, dolphins are born with it. Below are the smartest animals on the earth ranked.

Smartest Animals

List of Top 15 Smartest Animals

1. Chimpanzee

Sharing 98% of the human DNA, chimpanzees are the smartest in the animal kingdom. The intelligent creatures can recognize themselves in mirrors, improvise tools from available materials to serve their needs, and are expert users of such tools. They have successfully solved complex problems posed by human experimenters and trainers. They teach sign language to their young and use it to communicate effectively in a group.

2. Dolphin

The smartest marine animal is capable of both learning and mimicry. It manipulates its environment to gather food. For example, it makes mud traps for fish and collects sponges to help protect itself while searching for food among corals. Dolphins are also extremely social and communicate through a sophisticated language. They have an impressive ability to pick up and comprehend instructions and training given by humans.

3. Orangutan

Orangutans share 97% of the human DNA, enabling them to use tools, build shelter and have complex ritualistic social structures. They also have rudimentary language skills and can learn sign language. But what sets them apart is their ability to understand the ‘why’ or the reason for a certain action. The critically endangered species can be trained to use a hammer and nails and even a hose to siphon liquids.

4. Raven

Ravens can plan ahead and handle abstract concepts better than human toddlers. The highly resourceful birds are efficient multitaskers. They use logic to understand their surroundings. When researchers presented them with food that could only be obtained by completing a series of difficult tasks, they figured out how to reach the treats on their own without any help.

5. Pig

Contrary to popular belief, pigs are very active, clean, and smart. Their intelligence makes them more trainable than dogs or cats. Research suggests that they are able to understand the concept of reflection at only six weeks of age, while human children take several months to comprehend the same. They choose from a stock of around 20 different sounds to communicate, and mother pigs sing to their young when they feed. They also show emotions and express empathy in appropriate situations, something extremely rare among animals.

6. Elephant

Elephants can manipulate their surroundings to achieve their goal. If a fruit is placed on the branch of a tree that is hard for it to reach, it can shift a log to place it below the tree so it can reach the fruit. It can also use tools to achieve its goal and medicate itself. Elephants eat the leaves of certain plants to cure them of illness and even induce labor! Long hailed for having an excellent memory, the huge animal has been seen attending the last rites of a departed family member and mourning its loss.

7. African Gray Parrot

African gray parrots are among the most intelligent animals on the planet as their reasoning ability matches that of a 3 or 4-year-old kid. They use deductive reasoning for problem-solving, to find out which of two boxes contains a food reward. They can even work in groups to accomplish the task. They comprehend colors, shapes, relational concepts, and spatial reasoning. The popular pet bird can learn huge vocabularies (up to hundreds of words), testifying to its intelligence.

8. Octopus

Captive octopuses exhibit high levels of planning to escape from their tanks. They damage things outside their aquarium by splashing water on them repeatedly. They even throw rocks at glass and can open jars with screw-on lids.

The wild specimens sneak around, disguising themselves as rocks. To achieve the end, they move very slowly, matching the pace of the water to create the illusion that they are standing still. Thus they move about undetected by their predators. Their long-term and short-term memory have been testified by their ability to figure out mazes and problem-solving experiments. The trait helps them find their way back to their dens even after traveling a long distance.

9. Bonobo

This freedom-loving species can empathize with complete strangers if the situation so demands. They are parts of complex, matriarchal societies that often solve disputes non-violently. They are also skilled language users and can be trained to use symbols and sign language.

10. Rat

Though rats have small and relatively undeveloped brains, their minds function in a way similar to humans. The reason why rats are commonly used for research is that they can learn from their experiences. They are also excellent at learning and understanding concepts, skillfully figuring out mazes, complex multi-step tasks, and memorizing routes. Being social animals, rats show signs of depression and loneliness if left alone.

11. Squirrel

The dogged persistence and excellent memory of squirrels have troubled gardeners for long. Their impressive array of strategies and tricks that help them survive can be attributed to their advanced intellect and cunning. The essentially woodland animals have adapted to living in the same environment as humans eating from bird feeders, flower gardens, and whatever food they can find lying around.

12. Pigeon

Pigeons make it to this list for their power of thinking, reasoning, and memory. Experiments show that pigeons can distinguish between the artwork of Monet and Picasso with training. Afterwards, they can apply the same concept to distinguish between other arts.

They exhibit a complex sense of self-awareness as they can recognize their own reflection. They can recognize all the letters of the English alphabet and identify the difference between two people in pictures. For centuries they were used as messengers over long distances due to their memory of people and places.

13. Cat

The capacity of cats to maintain their freedom even after domestication has led them to be considered smarter than dogs for long. Their superior memory is a manifestation of greater intellect and perception. Their memory is 200 times better than dogs, and they can recall an event after as long as 16 hours. Their sophisticated brains with 300 neurons make them one of the smartest animals living.

14. Crow

Crows are aware of the knowledge they have and are able to ponder on that. It is the same ability that enables individuals to make new discoveries. They can make tools and use complex group tactics like flanking maneuvers when in combat with other animals. Excellent memory and ability to learn speech also make them feature in this list. They have been known to change their migration patterns to avoid dangerous areas. The owner of the largest brain among birds can even recognize the faces of humans!

15. Goat

Though the goat doesn’t appear to be the sharpest in the barn, they have a strong memory and possess a sophisticated social system. Research has proved that they can lift a lever with their noses, pull a rope with their teeth, to eat fruit from a plastic box. 9 of them were trained, and they picked up these actions in just four trials. On being tested 10 months later, 8 of them could recall the task and obtain the fruits in under a minute.


Q. Which is the smartest animal in the ocean?

A. The dolphin is the smartest animal in the sea and ocean.

Q. What is the smartest land animal?

A. The smartest land animal is the chimpanzee.

Q. What is the smartest animal in the jungle?

A. The smartest animal in the jungle is the chimpanzee.

Q. Name the smartest woodland animal?

A. The most intelligent woodland animal alive is the squirrel.

Q. Name the smartest domestic animal?

A. The most intelligent domestic animal is the African gray parrot.

Q. What is the smartest farm animal?

A. The pig is the smartest farm animal.