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Old 09-27-03, 06:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Animal Intellegence

I am currently reading an interesting book about animal minds, and I was curious as to your thoughts regarding this. I often see on this forum, the point made that snakes don't have individual personalities. Personally, I believe that many animals do in fact have their own personalities.

First, take humans as an example. Humans are a type of animal, however advanced our brains are. (some people i'm not so sure... ) We obviously have different personalities. You give the same stimulus to three different people, and their reactions will be different, depending on their individual personalities. Say you yell and swear at all three people. Person #1 might start to cry, person #2 might just tell you that you are a moron and leave, and person #3 might start a fight. People are also able to learn and work things out.

So are many animals. Parrots have been proven to be able to learn and figure out simple puzzles. It has been proven time and time again, with many different species, that animals posess a greater intellegence than we initially thought. In fact, just a few days ago they had a piece on the discovery channel about fish being smarter than we thought before. If you have ever owned a dog or a cat, you will probably see that they all have different personalities, and they learn things. Rats and many other animals have their own social ranks, and they can recognise others and remember their individual personalities. So, are animals really intellegent? Do they really have their own personalities, not just different 'qualities' that make them react differently?

I think so.

Often it is a case of us humans having a bias towards some animals regarding how smart we think they are. We mainly think of animals like chimpanzees and other primates to be quite intellegent, almost 'equal to humans.' Dogs and cats are usually next in line. And parrots. The list goes on, but when we think of animals such as snakes, frogs, and fish, we tend to label them with a lower intellegence. But is this really true? Or is it just what we believe because of the way we were brought up? As I said, fish were recently proven to have a higher intellegence than originally believed.

We never really know what is going on in an animal's mind, but isn't it a possibility that they are almost as unique and intelligent as individual humans?

You may argue and say this is just me being anthropomorphic, but I will have to disagree. There is just too much evidence of animal intellegence and personalities to ignore.

What are your thoughts on this topic?
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Old 09-27-03, 06:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree that mammals have personalities and are intelligent. I think reptiles have certain individual "characteristics", yes..but does that constitute as a personality? I am not sure. Using your example, if you were to take three snakes of the same species and put them in the same situation..they may react differently. A more "mellow" snake may just sit there and disreguard it's surroundings, whereas a more "aggressive" snake may strike or hiss due to the surroundings. Cats, dogs, even rats, enjoy human companionship..but do reptiles? I don't think so. I have never seen one of my snakes or lizards follow me around, react when I'm away, or act "happy" when I'm around. I would like to see others' input on this topic. If anyone has any articles, essays, or books that discuss this topic (do reptiles have emotions, are they intelligent, etc?). What is the book that you are reading called? I am interested
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Old 09-27-03, 06:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's called 'Inside the Animal Mind' by George Page. It's really quite interesting. Lots of good theories.
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Old 09-27-03, 07:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I think reptiles run on instinct but that doesn't mean they don't think and make simple choices(I don't believe we can prove whether that is true or not).....if I walk into the room and my burm presses her cute little face against the glass and (what seems like) looks in my direction....I think its curiosity, perhaps for her own survival, maybe she is thinking "noise, possible danger, food, lets look" and then the realization "oh its 'her' again...damn it"...lol i'm joking about the last part! i do think there is some sort of thought process, whether it is solely based on instinct....I have no idea but that seems like a logical conclusion when observing their behaviour.....I do think they can become accustomed to being handled and some species are obviously more placid than others. I chalk that up to a level of trust....if they could say something it might be something like "hasn't eaten me,doesn't hurt me, i'm not threatened" maybe they see us as trees..non-threatening...the Ents of the real world!lol
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Old 09-27-03, 10:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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This is a topic I'm very instrested in reasently. Mostly because I plan to buy a bird. Some experts belive lager parrots are on an intulectual level of a 3-5 year old child. african grays in perticualar have been shown to not only mimic human speech but comprehend and respond in an appoprate way.
As far as reptiles go I think reptiles like BD's and simalar one's IG's ect. do have personalitys and my even enjoy human contact to some degree. snakes however I have found to be more or less indiffrent. I dont know if I would say snakes have personalitys but they defently have indivual basic caritoristics.

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Old 09-28-03, 12:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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ahhh yes...birds Ihave a 2 year old green wing macaw.....i dont think anyone could argue with me that she doesnt have a personality birds are an amazing pet...as much as you teach them you learn so much more back. Im amazed at how much she can do. If i put her back in her cage and she decideds she wasnt done with me yet, she'll climb down the the bottom of her cage and flip onto her back and repeat "dead bird, step up dead bird...mom? dead bird" untill i come in the room, then she mimics my laugh and gets up and looks innocent. They definitly have a great intellegence level.

Matt, if your looking into getting a bird....its a good idea They're great companions ! My macaw runs the house over the other animals my 8 year old golden retriver is terrifed of her , shes the boss
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Old 09-28-03, 12:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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ahhh yes...birds Ihave a 2 year old green wing macaw.....i dont think anyone could argue with me that she doesnt have a personality birds are an amazing pet...as much as you teach them you learn so much more back. Im amazed at how much she can do. If i put her back in her cage and she decideds she wasnt done with me yet, she'll climb down to the bottom of her cage and flip onto her back and repeat "dead bird, step up dead bird...mom? dead bird" untill i come in the room, then she mimics my laugh and gets up and looks innocent. They definitly have a great intellegence level.

Matt, if your looking into getting a bird....its a good idea They're great companions ! My macaw runs the house over the other animals my 8 year old golden retriver is terrifed of her , shes the boss
~Shannon
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Old 09-28-03, 02:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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hehe This is a subject that i really like .

I think every single living thing has some kind of intelligence . Some seems more intelligent than others but i think its more because they are so different from us that we have problems understanding them .

Take snakes with heat sensing pits for example . We dont really know if they actually do have the physical ability to recognize us . They can taste the air really well and see our heat patterns wich is defferent for everyone but can they really recognize one human from another ? By watching mine I see they learn pretty fast . They learn things that are useful to them . Its not because they dont bring us the newspaper that it makes them stupid . Like dogs they are genetically engineered to do anything they can for us or for food , in their own minds its good for them to give their paws and stuff like that so they get rewarded . Snakes on their sides are born with all they need to survive on their own they already know what to eat what to avoid where to live how to climb trees how to swim and how to camouflage themselves . They are not domesticated so when they are in your house they cant do everything they are meant to be able to . In the nature snakes know where to hide to have the best camouflage ever , they can recognize these spots so it probably means they know what they look like and they know they have to match with the surroundings to be invisible . I think it is just because they are so different from us that we cant see how intelligent they are . They wont behave the way we want , they will behave the way they are meant to and the way they want .

We tend to say mammals are more intelligent , its probably because we are more related to them genetically speaking and by the way they behave . Like a mother teaching her child all the stuff they need to know to survive on their own . Those are the kind of things that we understand since its the same way for us .

Never forget that reptiles have more evolution in their genes than us they were there way before us and have adapted to a lot of changes and they are still around .

Mammals like birds have a mind set to learn because their minds are empty when they are born . Its their parents task to fill it up the way they need to . Reptiles are born with everything they need so they dont need to learn a lot more . But just take a look at the way they move they know everything thats is around them they know where to go to reach some places and the best they know how to outsmart mammals so they can catch them and eat them . It doesnt really matter if their preys are vegeterians or canivores they are built for the kill and will use all their tools to do it .

I think the term intelligence should be used only for humans because its not all animals that actually needs to learn stuff fast to survive some rely on strenght others on hiding its different for everyone and as intelligent as we are lots of people still lose their life to those species that dont look intelligent . We always underestimate them cause we think we are so smart but sometimes i actually think that they are the intelligent one and we are not , we a just are just an accident of natures .

Anyway whatever the species , whatever they look like , whatever they give you the creep , animals needs to be loved and needs to be respected .


Ps: i was really tired when i wrote this so some stuff might be incoherant :P
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Old 09-28-03, 07:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Natural Condition Response.....is the word for reptiles.....When they recieve stimuli they think as this---
Food- No Food
Threat- No Threat
Need Heat
Need Water
Kill -No Kill
Sex
---There are no reptile politics ,,no morality..
--Thats simple and Perfect....A 110 million years of evolution is not wrong ..Hundreds of millions of the lives of each species over this time period ,modified and naturally morphed the design, until the species is where it is now...
Many animals such as mammals do have more complex mental systems....but thats their story..designed that way through evolution..
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Old 09-28-03, 08:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think that Chas*e summed it fairly well. I try to not attribute their actions to emotion but there are alot of times when I really wonder.
I like to think that my animals like to be handled but I know that logically, they just tolerate being touched. Well when all the arguments and discussion is finished I'll do what I've always done and just enjoy them all for what they are, fascinating animals
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Old 09-28-03, 08:46 AM   #11 (permalink)
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All animals are born with some knowlege of how to do things. like human babys for exsample know how to walk on their own it's just somthing that doesent kick in untill 10-15 months. Parents dont teach there kids how to walk. if you locked a baby in a room by it self it would learn to walk. (aside form the great scicological trama) also human babys are born with the basis of speech all the little sounds they make are really the root sounds for just about any language. or back to the bird, they are born knowing how to beg for food. animals that have lower inteligance levels from a human stand point are born knowing how to do everything, snakes, ect.

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Old 09-28-03, 09:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I dunno, I think some reptiles are rather clever, look at snakes. once they escape once they will continue to escape until you fix the escape route. crocs protect their young, you can teach many monitors to walk on a lead.
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Old 09-28-03, 12:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I never said that reptiles are not clever. They, just like any other life form on this planet, modifies and exploits it's enviornment to survive. They, just as mammals, birds, plants are born "knowing" instinctual techniques of survival....Reptiles just are not "smart" to our standards(whatever that might be)....I know one thing is that there is no reptile species that would exploit it's enviornment to exhaustion...so much for our smarts...lol
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Old 09-28-03, 01:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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They're smart enough not to do that. acually i think they can do it to an extent. look at the islands in the south pacific where the brown tree snake and the habu have been introduced. some of the native animals have been practically exterminated because they couldn't adapt to the new threat of the snakes.
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Old 09-28-03, 04:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Good point Lisa but the key word is "introduced"..lol...not their fault, they would never have been able to do that naturally. Besides island species reach a balance over time..strong survive and all that....
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