Home Animals Most Cunning Animals: 10 Exceptionally Clever Creatures

Most Cunning Animals: 10 Exceptionally Clever Creatures

fox sleeping

When we talk about animals, we often assume that they live simple and carefree lives. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when it comes to cunning animals. These animals have a unique set of skills that allow them to thrive in the harsh environments they inhabit. 

With their impressive intelligence, they use various tricks to achieve what they want, making them some of the most fascinating creatures to study. Their survival mechanisms are truly remarkable, and the list of cunning animals that use deceit to get ahead is endless. 

It’s no wonder why they reign supreme in the wild – their smarts, wits, and adaptability have truly made them stand out.

List of Most Cunning Animals


Most Cunning Animals

Scientific Name – Vulpes vulpes
Class – Mammals

Renowned for its cunning nature, the fox is hailed as a master manipulator in the wild, effortlessly acquiring its desires. Among its most delectable meals are eggs, and the fox possesses a clever strategy to obtain them without confronting the creatures that lay them.

Patiently, it lies in wait for the bird to vacate its nest, biding its time for hours or even days. Seizing the opportune moment, the fox stealthily approaches the nest and pilfers the treasured prize, relishing the forthcoming feast. In cases where the egg proves too cumbersome to carry, the crafty fox intentionally cracks it against a rock, granting access to the succulent contents within. This resourceful trick can be repeated multiple times.

Not only limited to eggs, but the fox also employs similar tactics when hunting prey. It displays unwavering patience, awaiting the perfect opportunity to pounce on either an injured or defenceless young animal. By selecting such vulnerable targets, the fox effortlessly overpowers its quarry, ensuring a successful meal. Furthermore, it exhibits scavenging behaviour by patiently waiting for larger predators to finish their hunt, subsequently seizing the chance to feast on the remaining remnants.


Scientific Name – Delphinidae
Class – Mammals

Renowned for their exceptional intelligence, dolphins showcase both ingenuity and cunning in navigating the oceanic realm, even in captive environments. Their survival strategies include cooperative hunting, where they pool their skills to encircle schools of fish, preventing any chance of escape and securing a bountiful feast.

In addition to their cooperative hunting techniques, dolphins have also displayed remarkable adaptations for self-protection. They have been observed using sea sponges, which they carefully attach to their beaks before engaging in a hunt. This ingenious behaviour serves as a shield, guarding them against potential injuries during confrontations or conflicts with other marine creatures. This practice is aptly referred to as “sponging.”

Furthermore, a fascinating example of dolphin intelligence emerged in captive settings, where these marine mammals were trained to collect trash in exchange for fish rewards. Once they comprehended the system, they exhibited an impressive level of strategic thinking. Dolphins began saving up pieces of trash, meticulously subdividing them to maximize their reward potential. 

For instance, they would tear larger plastic bags into smaller fragments, effectively increasing the number of exchanges for fish treats. This demonstrated their ability to recognize patterns, optimize their rewards, and adapt their behaviour for advantageous outcomes.

Cuckoo Bees

Scientific Name – Nomada Fervida Smith
Class – Insects

Resembling their avian counterparts in name, these bees exhibit remarkable cunning and employ deceptive tactics to fulfil their desires. A prime example of their cunning nature is their ability to infiltrate unsuspecting beehives, seamlessly blending in with the resident bees. They patiently interact with the hive’s occupants, acquiring their scent over an extended period. By assimilating as one of their own, these bees avoid arousing suspicion and elude expulsion from the hive.

Once the opportune moment arrives, the infiltrating bee targets the reigning queen, eliminating her and usurping her royal position. While some resistance may arise from the other bees, these crafty bees possess formidable strength to withstand and fend off any opposition they encounter.

On occasion, after dispatching the queen, the cuckoo bee indulges in a sinister act. It consumes the queen’s eggs and proceeds to replace them with its own. As the newly laid eggs hatch, the cunning intruder’s larvae devour their unsuspecting counterparts, eradicating any remnants of the fallen queen’s progeny. Truly a cunning manoeuvre, wouldn’t you agree?


The Deadly Blue Ringed Octopus

Scientific Name – Octopoda
Class – Cephalopod

These cunning sea creatures with their eight limbs possess remarkable intelligence that sets them apart. Octopuses have demonstrated their advanced cognitive abilities through various experiments and observations.

One impressive feat is their adeptness at comprehending intricate mazes and successfully completing tasks to obtain rewards, often in the form of food. Additionally, octopuses have gained recognition as unparalleled escape artists. Their boneless bodies allow them to squeeze through minuscule openings, enabling their remarkable ability to liberate themselves from confinement.

But that’s not all. Octopuses possess a host of other fascinating traits. They have the capacity to recognize individual human faces, a remarkable feat for marine creatures. They exhibit ingenuity by opening jars both from the inside and the outside, showcasing their resourcefulness and problem-solving skills. Moreover, these cunning cephalopods are known to utilize tools and even mimic the sounds of other animals.

Truly, these sly creatures possess an array of impressive abilities. If only their lifespans were longer, humans would find themselves facing some serious competition indeed.


Scientific Name – Crocodylidae
Class – Reptiles

Despite their position at the apex of the food chain, crocodiles display cunning behaviour in their hunting strategies, particularly when it comes to targeting birds as prey.

To secure an effortless meal, crocodiles camouflage themselves with nesting materials like sticks and grass. They strategically position these items on their bodies or even inside their open mouths, luring unsuspecting birds into their trap. When the birds approach to collect the nesting materials, the crocodiles seize the opportunity and swiftly devour them, eliminating the need for extensive hunting efforts.

Moreover, when crocodiles spot animals that are cautious about approaching bodies of water for fear of becoming prey, such as potential prey items, they patiently submerge themselves and lie in wait. With their exceptional ability to hold their breath for extended periods, they wait underwater until the unsuspecting animal deems it safe to quench its thirst. At that moment, the crocodile swiftly strikes, instantly incapacitating the prey and securing a meal for the day.

In their pursuit of sustenance, crocodiles exhibit cunning tactics that capitalize on the vulnerabilities and behaviours of their prey, ensuring their survival and success as apex predators.

White-Winged Vampire Bats

Are Bats Smart

Scientific Name – Diaemus Youngi
Class – Mammals

Vampire bats are fascinating creatures with their unique feeding habits centred around blood consumption. Among them, white-winged vampire bats exhibit a cunning strategy that can be deemed a true masterpiece.

Using their incredibly sharp teeth, white-winged vampire bats skillfully create a tiny incision on a chicken’s leg, allowing them to access and feed on droplets of blood. However, the most cunning aspect of their feeding technique lies elsewhere.

These bats have developed the remarkable ability to mimic the appearance and behaviour of hen chicks. With this deceptive disguise, they stealthily approach a hen and crawl beneath her brood patch, cleverly pretending to be one of her offspring. While nestled snugly under the warm embrace of the unsuspecting “mother,” the vampire bat strategically makes a small incision on the hen’s body, feasting on her blood. It’s a remarkable display of cunning and adaptability.

The white-winged vampire bat’s ability to imitate and exploit the nurturing behaviour of hens showcases their advanced level of cunning in securing a blood meal.


crows vs magpies

Scientific Name – Corvus
Class – Aves

Crows are renowned for their exceptional cunning and survival skills, making them one of the most resourceful birds in the wild. Their ability to thrive in challenging environments is truly impressive.

These intelligent birds often form tight-knit groups and exhibit remarkable collaboration. They possess a keen understanding of how to strategically attack and secure food, employing synchronized tactics that catch their prey off guard and prevent effective defence.

In some instances, crows have been observed organizing coordinated attacks on humans to acquire their food. Working together in large numbers, they overwhelm their target, seizing the desired sustenance and swiftly transporting it to a safe location for consumption.

Researchers have also discovered that crows have the capacity to hold grudges against specific individuals. They may intentionally target these individuals by defecating on them or engaging in pecking attacks, resulting in varying degrees of injury.

In certain regions, such as Japan, crows have even demonstrated their ingenuity by learning to crack nuts using the assistance of traffic lights. Taking advantage of the red signal, they strategically place the nuts on the road, awaiting the opportune moment. When the light turns green and vehicles pass over the nuts, the crows capitalize on the impact, successfully accessing the nutritious contents within.

The cunning and adaptability of crows are truly remarkable, showcasing their ability to utilize their intelligence and observational skills to navigate various challenges and exploit available resources in their environment.

Brown Trouts

Brown Trouts

Scientific Name – Salmo Trutta
Class – Fish

Reproduction in brown trout is a complex process as they do not engage in physical mating. Instead, they fertilize the eggs after they have been laid, requiring precise timing.

However, mating is not solely reliant on timing. Female brown trout seek the best possible mate, and if they are not satisfied with the available males, they may choose not to lay their eggs.

When a female is ready to lay eggs but is dissatisfied with the male’s quality of fertilization, she resorts to a deceptive strategy. She simulates an orgasm and pretends to have deposited the eggs, thus driving away the undesired male without fertilizing the eggs.

Subsequently, female brown trout patiently wait for a suitable male to approach. If a desirable mate does not appear, they continue the ruse by vigorously shaking, as if they have laid the eggs, until they attract a male they approve of.  



Scientific Name – Corvus Corax
Class – Aves

Ravens, like crows, are also birds and follow a similar reproductive process. They lay eggs, typically in nests located in trees or on cliffs. Both male and female ravens share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

Ravens are considered some of the most intelligent birds. They have been observed using tools, solving puzzles, and even playing games. Their problem-solving skills and ability to mimic sounds contribute to their reputation as clever birds.

Ravens have a sophisticated system of communication. They use a variety of vocalizations, including croaks, clicks, and harsh calls. Research has shown that they can communicate about specific objects and events and even have the ability to deceive other members of their species.

Topi Antelopes

Scientific Name – Damaliscus Lunatus Jimela
Class – Mammals

The topi antelope is a unique animal that uses a different strategy to attract mates compared to other animals. Unlike those that use physical strength to fight for their chance at mating, the topi antelope uses its voice to woo females. However, the male topi’s efforts do not end there. They also let off an alarming sound that warns the female from wandering away. 

This might sound like the opposite of what they should do to attract more females, but by keeping the females close, there is an increased chance of mating. After all, the perfect time for mating is when the females are near and receptive. Despite this unusual method, it is evident that these antelopes have found a way to make it work for them.

Final Words

In the wild, many animals use their natural abilities to gain an advantage over others. Some do this in order to survive, while others just do it because they can. However, it is important to note that animals are much more intelligent than they appear. From the sneaky tactics of the octopus to the clever deception of the cuckoo bird, the animal kingdom is full of examples of cunning and deceit. The fact that animals are capable of these complex behaviours is a testament to their intelligence.  


Author Profile

A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.

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A motivated philosophy graduate and student of wildlife conservation with a deep interest in human-wildlife relationships, including wildlife communication, environmental education, and conservation anthropology. Offers strong interpersonal, research, writing, and creativity skills.


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