We think of ourselves as the smartest animals on the planet and we're not wrong. But, that doesn't mean other members of the animal kingdom can have bursts of genius too.
Here, people share stories of the most calculated thing they've ever seen an animal do.
1/28. We used to have two kittens. One day at the dinner table one of them stood up and put two paws on my dad's lap. We all laughed at her obvious attempt at trying to steal food. While our attention was focussed on her, her sister jumped straight onto the table and stole a whole chicken drumstick. They both sprinted away and shared it nearby.
We were all impressed.
2/28. I use to find dead mice in my dog's water bowl. I couldn't figure out why these stupid mice kept drowning themselves. Then, one day, I was watching my dog stalking a mouse on the back porch. She caught it in her teeth, brought it to the water bowl, and held it under water with her teeth until it drowned. Walked away like it was nothing.
Scariest thing I've ever seen.
3/28. There was crow who would drop walnuts on the road waiting for cars to run them over. It would then wait at the crosswalk with people for the light to change. When it would it would walk over and eat the broken walnut.
4/28. My dog once outsmarted me. He tricked me into getting up to let him out on a cold winter morning... only as soon as I turned the corner he jumped up into my warm spot in the bed, curled up tight, and then studiously ignored me when I came back in the room. That bonehead. Best dog ever.
5/28. I had a large lovable great dane, about 140 lbs. One day my husband, my sister in law, and I were sitting in the living room watching my 3 year old niece play with the dog on the floor. At one point my niece grabbed the dog's stuffed toy and walked away with it. The dog got up and followed her to where she stood in the corner. So my niece is standing in the corner playing with the toy and facing the wall and my large dog is looming behind her looking over her shoulder at the toy in her hands. The dog turns back and looks at us grown ups on the couch, then looks back at the toy, then looks back at us, then back at the toy (story continued on the next page...).
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Finally he turned his head, and staring at us, lifted his giant dog foot and punched my nieces head into the wall in front of her. She immediately exploded into tears, dropped the toy, and stood there sobbing and holding her forehead.
The dog calmly and very daintily picked up the toy and took it to his bed and laid down.
6/28. I made a crow friend while smoking on the porch. I gave it fragments of whatever food I could find on the way out. One day, I found an empty pack of Marb on the porch. Puzzled, but I threw it away. Few days later, I found my crow bro standing behind 3 empty packs of cigarettes. I tried to pick them to throw away, but the crow bro was protecting them for some reason. Frustrated, but I gave it a small chunk of meat as I took another drag. As I gave it the meat, the crow picked up one of the packs and placed it front of me. Then, it hit me: the crow is trading with me. The trade went on for few more times until the winter hit Minnesota.
7/28. My horse knows how to unlock gates with his nose. Most of the stalls have a slide lock that they usually just leave alone. Not Rex. We had to put a bottom lock on the door he couldn't reach.
One day one of the newer people locked him in his stall but forgot the bottom latch; then walked away. Rex unlocked his door and then went to the other stalls and let the other horses out. Then he led them on a charge to grassy freedom.
8/28. I was once walking from my grandparents house to the shops, and accidentally went the very long way, which happened to go past a creek (there may have been more water I couldn't see) and park where ducks liked to live. I saw two ducks walk towards the road, and at the edge, one duck put its wing in front of the other duck to stop it, looked both ways and waited for a car to pass, walked to the center line of the road with the other duck, and repeated. I have never regretted not bringing my camera more.
9/28. There was a flock of little birds outside of a french bakery in California. They would pick at bits of scones and croissants people threw away in the trash cans nearby, and many of them would approach people for scraps. We noticed one particular bird hopping around on one leg begging for scraps, and we gave it a little bit of our bread. As soon as it had the bit of food in its beak, I swear to god it looked right at me and dropped its other leg to the ground.
10/28. We used to have two dogs: Lillian the Chihuahua and Einstein the Corgi.
We had to feed them separately, because Ein would gobble up all of Lillian's food, while Lillian preferred to graze at her own leisure like a cat.
So, we set up Lillian's food bowl on a small desk in the corner of the living room, because Lillian could hop directly up to the desk to eat when she wanted, and Ein was too corgi-esque to make the jump.
This arrangement worked great for a while until one day we noticed that Lillian's food was disappearing faster than usual lately. So we started to monitor the situation a bit more closely. Then we found what has happening, by quietly peeking around the corner when we heard some movement in the living room.
We watched Ein deliberately push out the chair under the desk, hop from the chair to the desk, gobble up ALL of Lillians food, hop back down, and I kid you not: push the chair back under.
It was the most devious thing I've ever seen.
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11/28. A few years ago, there were a few slices of bread in the middle of the street for whatever reason. A crow kept flying down and treating themselves, but whenever they did, one of the neighbourhood dogs came and chased them off. The crow tried about three times to eat in peace, but the dog chased it off every time.
So the crow then decided to land a little bit away from the slices of bread and the dog ran towards it. The crow then flew off and landed about a metre away from where it just landed. The dog followed again. The crow repeated this until the dog was in a different street and then the crow came back and chowed down.
12/28. This was my dog.
I was eating a bagel on the couch and he was sitting on the floor next me, just eyeing me down. You could tell he wanted some, but I wasn't giving into his cute persuasions.
He calmly walks over the mud room door and rings his bell that lets us know that he has to go to the bathroom. So I get off the couch, put my bagel on the coffee table and walk into the mudroom. Well between the time I got up and walked to the mudroom door, he ran around, back through the kitchen and had snagged my bagel off the table. I didn't even try to get it back from him, the slick pup deserved his prize.
I realized who was the smartest being in the house that day.
13/28. Your story reminded me: On one edge of my neighborhood there's a large retention pond/lake thing. I've lived there for about a decade, so from my perspective there has always been a small group of geese who live along the shore or in the park somewhere. There have always been people living across the (residential) street from the pond who feed the geese (ugh, don't get me started). So the these geese have been crossing the road for years, and people have been almost running the geese over for years. The road is a main thoroughfare in & out of the neighborhood & can get pretty busy, so a few years ago a stop sign with a crosswalk and then an extra crosswalk down the road were put in. Nothing fancy, just signs and paint on the road.
The geese started using the crosswalks. Since they were installed I have not seen them cross anywhere but within 10 feet of the markings on the pavement.
14/28. When my big orange tabby cat wanted me up to feed him breakfast he got into the habit of coming into the bedroom and meowng loudly around 5 am. I soon cured him of that by getting up and quietly locking him in the bathroom for an hour or so while I got some more sleep. Sure enough after a few times he stopped waking me up with those loud "MEOOOWS!"
But I found I still would wake up early for some unknown reason with the cat on the floor by my bed staring at me expecting breakfast. It wasn't until one morning when I woke up really early and was just lying in bed thinking of getting up when I heard the smallest meow you could ever hear -just a little tiny kitten like "mew". He then waited a minute or two and then repeated. He basically did this non stop at irregular intervals just within hearing range so I wouldn't know that he had woken me up.
15/28. When I was about 11 or 12 years old I was with my family on a beach. There was a seagull there that had stolen a sandwich from our beach blanket. It had grabbed the sandwich, flew away, and landed about 100 feet from us.
So I picked up a racquetball and tried to hit the seagull with it. I missed, but was close enough to startle the seagull. It flew into the air, swooped back down, picked up the ball, and proceeded to drop it like 200 yards out at sea.
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16/28. We once came home to find my dog had ripped into a multi-pack of mini chocolate bars and sweets and gone to town on them. However, we couldn't bring ourselves to tell him off because he'd also placed an unopened chocolate on my bed, my sister's bed and my parents' bed. I guess he thought if he shared the chocolate with us all we wouldn't be mad.
P.S. He's a big dog, and didn't eat enough chocolate for it to actually be poisonous.
17/28. When I was in kindergarten we went to the zoo.
The first enclosure is a big area with what I think were chimpanzees, it was too long ago to remember.
There was a sign apparently that said that you had to be silent to not disturb the monkeys.
This one kid Frederic didn't shut his mouth and a chimp just grabbed a peanut and threw it over 70 yards and hit the kid right in the head. That shut him up...
18/28. I worked at a pet store.
We had a guard dog. Mean looking pit bull dog.
When customers would show up before the store opened and bang on the door to get in, the owner would say "Sic 'em Butch" and the dog would run out of the back, barking and snarling, and slam into the front door glass till the customer went away and waited for the store to open.
One day, I was in the back of the store, and a customer came rapping on the front glass to get in early. Nobody was in the retail area of the store, the dog was in the back and didn't hear the rapping... But, the store mascot parrot was on his perch in the front of the store, and suddenly, called out, "Sic, em Butch!"
The dog came running, snarling and chased the customer away.
no humans were involved inside the store.
I just sat in amazement as i watched the whole thing.
19/28. Each time the door bell rang. My cat would run and hide behind the furniture next to the door, slip out the door as soon as I opened it and run straight for a small hole under the fence where she knew I couldn't catch her. She'd be back after a couple hours of being an outdoor wildcat.
20/28. Just up the street from my apartment in San Francisco, there was one of those fast food restaurants that was either a KFC or a Taco Bell, depending on the angle from which it was viewed. The establishment was a frequent stopping point for students coming from the nearby college... and those students were a frequent target for a remarkably bright crow.
Now, on most days, the bird in question would just hang around the restaurant (as well as other ones nearby) and scavenge for scraps. Every once in a while, though (story continued on the next page...).
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Every once in a while, though - I saw this happen twice, and had it happen to me once - it would enact a much more complex scheme than simply going through the gutter: The crow had apparently discovered that money could be exchanged for food, so it would wait until it saw a likely mark, squawk at them to get their attention, then pick up and drop a coin. Anyone who responded would witness the bird hopping a few feet away, then following its "victim" toward the source of its next snack.
When the crow approached me, it dropped a nickel on the ground. I stooped, picked up the coin, and then jumped slightly when the bird made a noise that sounded not unlike "Taco!"
Needless to say, I bought that crow a taco.
The final out-of-pocket cost for me, minus the nickel, was something like $1.15. Even so, I figured a bird that smart deserved a reward simply for existing.
Of course, that was probably exactly what I was supposed to think.
21/28. I had a German Shepherd-Chow mix who was incredibly smart and loyal. She was a rescue our family picked up from a shelter when she was about 8 months old. Her name was Jazz, and I have never seen another like her.
When my brother was about two years old, he learned to unlock and open doors. We had a fenced in backyard with a large pool. We did have a sturdy cover on the pool at this time, because it was dead of winter, but some water seeped on top of the cover, like most covers, if you were to try to walk across it.
One day, my brother opened the back door and headed straight for the pool. The lady who helped clean our house saw what was happening through the window over the sink. She screamed, and we all ran outside to go get him. What we saw was my wonderful dog stand in front of him, gently take his hand in her mouth and lead him away from the pool.
She was incredible.
22/28. My dog Aries wasn't allowed to sleep in bed because he was so big and there was just no room.
One night Aries woke up my dad and started pacing and pushing on the door acting like he wanted to go out, so my dad got out of bed and walked him down the hallway to the backdoor to let him out.
The second my dad touched the door Aries turned around and bolted back to the bedroom and jumped in bed, got under the covers and laid next to my mom, taking up all the room. I think my dad just slept on the couch the rest of the night because he was so impressed with his planning.
23/28. I once watched a pigeon jay-walk.
It never once tried to fly. It just walked to the edge of the curb. Looked both ways for cars, and then started walking. Got to the yellow line on the road and stopped again. It waited while a few cars went by, and then looked both ways again, and continued walking across to the other curb.
It was fascinating. It must have learned by watching other people doing it.
24/28. There are these little ninja crows everywhere. Small and sleek. They take up posts on the sunbrellas, one per peak. So I'm listening to them squawk, because birds, and I noticed they had a particular sound for 'food'. If any one of them spotted open food or an open tray, they would make this little 'qwaak' sound, and if they heard the 'qwaak', their peak-neighbor would repeat it, and so forth until all the birds knew about it. They had another sound for 'carried food'.
These birds would organize their 'attacks' based on where the food was in their little network. Open food was hit by one bird following another, each taking a piece until it was gone or somebody shooed them away. But the carried food, that was a two-parter. Some would swoop in low, facing the server, and of course, the server would tilt the tray back to protect it. That's when the flankers would hit, dropping from up high, to snag what they could while the server was distracted.
Brilliant approach, and from what I could see, very effective. They got a little something almost every time. It was amazing to watch, I had no idea birds could co-ordinate and communicate like that. Sneaky lil' fellas. Kept me entertained for hours.
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25/28. This won't ever see the light of day, but a cricket rode around on my turtle's back for over 24 hours. If he's that smart, the cricket deserves to live. We set him free to propagate his genes.
26/28. I had a cat, who has since passed of natural causes, that was ridiculously smart. He was allowed outdoors but always slept inside at night. We had recently found some abandoned kittens which we fed, and they made a home in our back yard. One night our indoor cat came up to my room meowing incessantly and left, so I ignored him. He came back again a couple of minutes later and then left, so again I let him be. The third time he did this I decided to follow him and he led me to the sliding glass back door and just stood there. I turned on the light and looked outside and these poor kittens were cornered by some raccoons. The confrontation had not become physical yet, thankfully, and I managed to scare the raccoons away. I am still amazed to this day by some of the things this cat did.
27/28. Saw a squirrel on our campus look both directions on our main street before crossing to avoid cars. Not even our students seem to do that.
28/28. My gf has a rule that her dog is not allowed in the kitchen. Whenever he tries to break this rule she puts him on the carpet right outside the kitchen with a stern talking to.
The second she turns her back he will slide one paw forward like 2 inches to barely touch the kitchen floor.
Her dog is very passive aggressive. Kinda like his owner.