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The Most Clever Animals

Updated on July 14, 2011

The Most Intelligent Animals

We always assume most animals are pretty dumb but actually they are not and some animals are very clever and quite smart. This Hubpage features the Top 5 Smartest Animals and also a few close runners up are featured too. The animals in this list are all very clever but it is possible I may also miss a smart animal or two so this list may not be 100% scientifically correct but is pretty accurate! If I do miss a fantastically smart animal off the list, please leave a comment and this article will have some of the cleverest animals in the world!

Animals show intelligence in many ways and some of the factors include: social groups, their own language, teamwork and problem solving among other things. This list also obviously excludes humans so no comment saying "human beings are the smartest!"

The Top 5 Smartest Animals are:

Sow with a piglet
Sow with a piglet

Smartest Animal: Number 5 The Pig

We don't tend to think of pigs as a very intelligent animal and when using the word "pig" to describe each other - we take it as an insult like Piggy in Lord of the Flies.  However we often underestimate pig intelligence levels and pigs are in some ways more intelligent than babies and chimpanzees!  

Pigs are very good at adapting to their environment and know that to cool down they should roll in the mud, which also keeps away pests but it does smell too! Pigs also have a very good sense of direction and learn from watching each other. 

Pigs also lead good social lives and interact with each other in surprising ways.  Mother pigs sing to their piglets and also out smart each other!

An elephant
An elephant | Source

Smartest Animal: Number 4 The Elephant

Elephants are also very intelligent animals and are not just giants. For a start, elephant brains are massive and are bigger than humans weighing over 5kg! Again, they care for each other and help each other out. Elephants also have a very good memory and can find water from miles away and somehow just know where it is.

Elephants are also the only species apart from human beings and Neanderthals that appear to have a death ritual, showing grief. Elephants actually touch the bones and cover them up, in effect burying them. This shows high intelligence levels.

Opposite to this, elephants also play and have ever been able to create abstract art, most likely by remembering the brush strokes.  Look below and you will see an incredible video!!

Useful link

Elephant intelligence

Elephant Painting

The Smartest Animals on the Planet Book

The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures
The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures

Interested in how smart animals really are? This 192 page book is perfect for you, showing how animals are intelligent and why and how we know that.

It is full of great facts and beautiful pictures and is highly recommended and rated 5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.


Smartest Animal Number 3: Orangutans

As most people know, great apes are considered our closest relatives and the cleverest creatures after humans. Orangutans have a strong system of communication and a strong culture. Orangutans also use tools like rocks in the wild to help them. They have a very good social life!

Female Orangutans also stay with their young and teach them for many years.

Beautiful picture of a Bottle nose dolphin showing you why dolphins are so popular.
Beautiful picture of a Bottle nose dolphin showing you why dolphins are so popular.

Smartest Animal Number 2: Dolphins

Dolphins are incredible animals which are both beautiful but also highly intelligent.  In the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams says Dolphins are the second most clever animal after mice!

Firstly, dolphins are highly social animals and live together in groups of up to a dozen (12). Dolphins also have their own language and communicate using clicks, whistles and other noises again showing they are very clever. 

Dolphins also play together and love to jump as you can often see in zoos and other places.  If I could be any animal, I think I would choose to be a dolphin - I just love them!

Chimpanzee - the Most Intelligent Animal

Chimpanzees are very intelligent!
Chimpanzees are very intelligent! | Source

Smartest Animal Number 1: Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees are another great ape and are famously considered the most intelligent animals (after humans) and for good reason. Chimpanzees can: make and use tools, communicate with each other and even learn sign language to communicate with humans, hunt together and can solve advanced problems.

So Chimpanzees are highly intelligent animals!

Other Smart Animals

There are many smart animals and some obviously missed the list. Here are some of the runners up!

  • Mice
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Crows

The Smartest Animals on the Planet Book

The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures
The Smartest Animals on the Planet: Extraordinary Tales of the Natural World's Cleverest Creatures

A fantastic book with 192 pages full of information about intelligent animals and lovely pictures too! Rated 5 out of 5 stars on


Your Comments

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    • purrnfurr profile image


      7 years ago from Washington

      Elephants surprised me. I thought that crows or ravens would be on here, given how quickly they adapt to use tools and perform non-natural tasks like picking up discarded change.

      Very interesting, though!

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 

      7 years ago from USA

      The one that surprised me were pigs. I always thought dolphins were the smartest.

      This was an interesting hub. I'm surprised though that dogs weren't rated on it. We had a dog that understood close to 400 words.


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