New Brunswick

The 3 smartest animals found in your backyard

Science East's Michael Edward does some research on the smartest animals you will find in your backyard.

Of the many animals your backyard is likely to host, the smartest do not include cats and dogs

These three creatures are smart, says Michael Edward of Science East. (CBC, Jesara Sinclair/CBC, CBC)

Quite a few different animals bring their personalities to a typical backyard —  paranoid squirrels, barking dogs, empathetic crows, rummaging raccoons, haughty felines, silent mice, bashful rabbits — but which ones are the smartest?

After getting the question from a young, eager scientist, Michael Edwards, the director of strategic initiatives and exhibits at Science East in Fredericton, did some digging.

He discovered that the three smartest animals people might find in their backyard would not include the average cat or dog, he revealed on Shift New Brunswick.

1. The crow

According to Michael Edwards at Science East in Fredericton, crows are both smart and understanding, at least of crows feeling blue. (Submitted by Ferne Williams)
The first smartest animal likely to be found is the crow. These black-feathered, short-beaked birds are among the most intelligent of birds.

According to Edwards, crows have a level of complexity that other animals don't often exhibit.

"They use non-verbal communication, which is not common in a lot of a lot of animals," he said.

Crows develop complex social groups before they mate, and they mate for life. Their gang-like social groups are useful in helping them practise their empathy. Crows console sad fellow crows.

Next time a murder of crows shows up in the backyard, and it looks like a group meeting, it is.

2. The raccoon

Raccoons are strong and they love the nightlife. (Submitted by Ronnie Mackenzie)
These black-grey pudgy animals are often called nuisances, but they're smart.

Raccoons are the second smartest animal and they enjoy the nightlife and are extremely strong.

"They are also good at problem solving," he said. "We're building smarter raccoons every day."

By creating barriers, and trying to keep raccoons from getting at food, humans actually encourage the animals' problem solving behaviour, leaving backyards vulnerable to being taken over by raccoon overlords.

These bright and lively animals also wash their food.

3. The squirrel

Squirrels are crafty about making sure their food isn't stolen. (
Lastly, the tree-climbing, nut-hoarding and fluffy-tailed squirrels are the third smartest animal.

"They are good at overcoming what has been done," said Edward. "They are good at problem solving, they`re good at getting into stuff, and they have really good agility."

That agility comes in handy as they try to dash across busy streets and avoid swerving motorists. 

And if squirrels sometimes do appear paranoid, they are. They will fake hiding food so that other squirrels won't gain access to their stash.

With files from Shift NB