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  1. #1
    Registered User Luvyna's Avatar
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    Which snake is the smartest?

    We've had the "which snake is the scariest," "which snake is the cutest," and "which snake is the weirdest" threads... but now what about which snake is the smartest (if snakes can be said to be smart at all lol).

    I'm not even sure how one would quantify "snake intelligence" so I guess this is more a thread for qualitative observations. I'm really curious to hear from people who have kept many different species and would love to know how the personalities and capacity for recognizing people and patterns and solving problems compares between different kinds of snakes. If anyone has any interesting stories please do tell!

    I thought I'd make this thread since I have heard some people describe species like the king cobra, rattlesnake, reticulated python, and BCI as more "intellectually present" than other species and I wonder what made them feel that way. Having only kept a BP myself I can't contribute very much (and I'm going to venture that BPs probably would not make it onto the "smartest snakes" list LOL) but I'm very interested in what others have to say.

  2. #2
    BPnet Senior Member AbsoluteApril's Avatar
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    I've always heard King Cobras show the most intelligence (although unclear how what kind of measurement is involved in making that determination).

    Of the species I keep, retics are the smartest. You can almost see their little gears turning when they are looking at things.
    The dumbest of what I keep are the ATBs. Just instinct, something moves? bite it and figure it out later! I've had them almost kill themselves from their own stupidity.
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  4. #3
    Registered User Luvyna's Avatar
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    Re: Which snake is the smartest?

    Thanks for the input! Yes, I've heard that King Cobras are the kings when it comes to intelligence as well. Apparently it's because they exhibit behaviours that are not seen in any other snakes, such as building nests to lay eggs in. They also appear to have a more advanced ability of understanding what's going on—their keepers report that they can clearly differentiate between feeding, cleaning, and handling time, and can recognize their handlers over other people.

    From the videos I've seen, I would also agree that you can practically see the retic gears turning when they are investigating their surroundings.

    LOL poor ATBs! At least they're pretty

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  6. #4
    Registered User Spicey's Avatar
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    Re: Which snake is the smartest?

    And funnily enough, I've heard the statement from more than one person that "retics are DUMB". I guess it really depends on your snake and what your criteria for intelligence is. I personally would call the king cobra the "smartest" snake, but that could just be because personality in a snake indicates smarts to me, and kings have that in spades. If you love your snakes and they work for you, it doesn't matter how "smart" or "stupid" they are. We gotta love 'em because they're amazing animals!
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  8. #5
    BPnet Veteran Bogertophis's Avatar
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    Great topic- It's hard to say which snakes are the smartest, because just like humans or dogs, not every member of a given species is equally-cognizant. My short answeris rattlesnakes & rat snakes, but it will take some time to explain, & some things, I'm not sure that I should, but in any event I'm busy right now & I'll have to come back to this.

    I've never met any King cobras so I cannot offer a personal opinion about them, but there was a lady many years ago who free-handled them & lived relatively unscathed until well into her 60's, when a bite from a small young & newly-acquired cobra (not a King) managed just enough of a bite when she was distracted for an interview, and that's how she died...Grace Olive Wiley under-estimated that deadly little thing, in part because it was too small to get its mouth around her hand (they have fixed fangs, not retractable & longer fangs like rattlesnakes do). Anyway, King cobras are known to have been reliably tamed- Wiley is the one I know most about- & that ability of a snake to recognize & remember a human handler as being no threat & without ever trying to bite is surely a sign of their intelligence.
    Last edited by Bogertophis; 03-26-2020 at 10:09 PM.
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    BPnet Veteran Crowfingers's Avatar
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    Re: Which snake is the smartest?

    I would second King Cobras - or maybe elapids in general - somewhere in internet world there are videos of cobras (I think) drinking water from someones' water bottle in the middle of a drought - can't really see a ball python doing that lol
    No cage is too large - nature is the best template - a snoot can't be booped too much


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  12. #7
    BPnet Veteran cletus's Avatar
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    Out of my snakes it would def be the MBK. I've seen her move from one end of her enclosure to the other parallel to her prey and appear to head it off. She really looks like she is anticipating where the mouse is going. It seems different than just laying in wait to ambush her prey like the boas do. She is an absolute eating machine.

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  14. #8
    BPnet Lifer Zincubus's Avatar
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    Re: Which snake is the smartest?

    I’d say it’s between Woma pythons and Retics


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    If the standard for smart = capacity to learn then I'll go with my retics. I have two in enclosures with sliding doors, and I had to buy jeweler's locks for the doors because both figured out they could slide open the doors by scraping along the door from the inside. I watched one do it after putting him back when I thought I left the door open by accident, and when he thought I wasn't looking he did it again.

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  18. #10
    Registered User Luvyna's Avatar
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    Re: Which snake is the smartest?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spicey View Post
    And funnily enough, I've heard the statement from more than one person that "retics are DUMB". I guess it really depends on your snake and what your criteria for intelligence is. I personally would call the king cobra the "smartest" snake, but that could just be because personality in a snake indicates smarts to me, and kings have that in spades. If you love your snakes and they work for you, it doesn't matter how "smart" or "stupid" they are. We gotta love 'em because they're amazing animals!
    Haha that's fair, I've certainly also seen videos of derpy retics And very true, snakes are wonderful pets regardless of whether they're smart or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogertophis View Post
    Great topic- It's hard to say which snakes are the smartest, because just like humans or dogs, not every member of a given species is equally-cognizant. My short answeris rattlesnakes & rat snakes, but it will take some time to explain, & some things, I'm not sure that I should, but in any event I'm busy right now & I'll have to come back to this.

    I've never met any King cobras so I cannot offer a personal opinion about them, but there was a lady many years ago who free-handled them & lived relatively unscathed until well into her 60's, when a bite from a small young & newly-acquired cobra (not a King) managed just enough of a bite when she was distracted for an interview, and that's how she died...Grace Olive Wiley under-estimated that deadly little thing, in part because it was too small to get its mouth around her hand (they have fixed fangs, not retractable & longer fangs like rattlesnakes do). Anyway, King cobras are known to have been reliably tamed- Wiley is the one I know most about- & that ability of a snake to recognize & remember a human handler as being no threat & without ever trying to bite is surely a sign of their intelligence.
    I would love to hear your stories about rattlesnakes and rat snakes! I remember that story you told about one of your rescue rattlesnakes trying to follow you after you released it back into the wild, which was really amazing. I've heard people who work with rattlesnakes for venom extraction also say that rattlesnakes are incredibly intelligent and also harder to work with to extract venom compared to snakes like black mambas because they really understand what's going on.

    Wow that story about Wiley is incredible! I'm always amazed to see people free-handling King Cobras. Definitely not something I would dare to do. Sad to hear she passed away Accidents can happen easily. It's very common for bites to happen when handling animals during interviews, many people have also been attacked by dogs in similar situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by bcr229 View Post
    If the standard for smart = capacity to learn then I'll go with my retics. I have two in enclosures with sliding doors, and I had to buy jeweler's locks for the doors because both figured out they could slide open the doors by scraping along the door from the inside. I watched one do it after putting him back when I thought I left the door open by accident, and when he thought I wasn't looking he did it again.
    Sounds like you have some very mischievous retics! I'm impressed they figured out how to open sliding doors without hands haha.

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