Crows will remember your face… for decades

Not only can crows remember individual humans for years or even decades, but they can also communicate how to identify them to the rest of their murder. As such, mistreating one crow can mean raising the ire of their entire family, just as rescuing or helping one can sometimes lead to the whole group leaving you trinkets out of gratitude. In short: a crow is smart enough to either be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Vampire bats are great at doing favours

The vampire bat has a pretty fearsome reputation, so it may surprise you to know that it has among the highest levels of emotional intelligence in the animal kingdom. Not only have vampire bats been known to share food with hungry members of their community whether or not they are related, but they also understand the concept of favours. Observation by scientists revealed that vampire bats were far more likely to give resources to members of their group who had helped them in the past, even if it was a long time ago.

Pigs are smarter than your dog, and your toddler

Pigs are often thought of as dirty, smelly or stupid, and when their intelligence is brought up it’s usually presented in a negative light. In truth, pigs have been known to outperform most breeds of dogs when it comes to recalling and executing tricks, and their identification skills are on par with that of a three-year-old child. Pigs also have observable personalities, and they can form deep friendships and even indulge in games and jokes with each other.

African hornbills are bilingual

Many animals have their own complex languages, but far fewer can claim to be bilingual. The African hornbill is one of just a handful of creatures capable of understanding the language of another, as they often use the warning calls of Diana monkeys to their own ends. Hornbills have learned to distinguish between the monkeys’ cry for leopard and their cry for crowned eagle, for example, and will only scatter when they hear an animal is near that poses a threat to them. How smart is that?

Goldfish have a better memory than you think

Some animals are on this list because they’re even more intelligent than previously thought, but others have earned their place simply by being less stupid than is generally assumed. Many of the myths about goldfish, for example, simply aren’t true. For one, they do not have a six-second memory, and they can actually learn tricks like swimming through hoops. Not only that, but science has proven that goldfish do in fact watch their owners through the glass, and even take an interest in what’s going on.

Rats can learn dozens of commands

The rat is another animal with a less-than-stellar reputation that’s totally underserved. In reality, rats make excellent pets and companions, in part because they are so smart. Not only can they learn numerous voice commands and do various tricks, but they also have the ability to communicate complex ideas to each other, from where dangers are to how to successfully navigate them. Scientists at KU Leuven University have even said that the structure of a rat’s brain has meaningful similarities to that of a human’s.

Monitor lizards can count

Lizards are often depicted as sneaky, dangerous or conniving, but the reality is much more interesting. Moniker lizards in particular have the ability to count up to six, as demonstrated by scientists who taught them to expect a certain number of delicious snails to eat and then gave them two less. The lizards then went searching for the final two snails that they’d become accustomed to. Not only that, but moniker lizards also work in pairs to distract other creatures, with one leading a female crocodile away so the other can devour her eggs before swapping places.

Squirrels will bury fake nuts to protect their haul

Thanks to their habit of hiding away resources for leaner times during the winter, squirrels are often lauded as symbols of foresight and modesty. However, delayed gratification isn’t the only thing that they’re good at, as they’re also great at being duplicitous when the situation calls for it. In addition to their legitimate burials, squirrels will also make a show of digging up and then re-covering mounds of earth without hiding anything in them at all, in the hopes of throwing off any other creatures looking to cash in on their hard work.

Ravens are better with tools than most apes

The phrase “bird-brained” might be an unambiguous insult but, given how intelligent ravens are, it really shouldn’t be. These ominous, hulking birds are often associated with death or misfortune, but they’re also incredibly bright. At just four months old, they have the same tool-making and implementation skills as an adult great ape, and their ability to plan tasks is on par with a four-year-old human’s. Most impressive of all, New Caledonian crows are the only non-human species known to modify existing tools to make them more effective.

Cows have best friends and rivalries

There’s no doubting that cows are adorable, but they’re also often considered to be fairly lazy and dopey. In truth, cows actually form complex and deep relationships with each other that can span decades and even generations. Not only do cows have best friends within their herd and often favourite human keepers, but they also have squabbles, grudges and even the concept of mischief. That’s a far cry from only caring about grass and naps.