Reptile Intelligence

Reptiles are often dismissed as being “living rocks”, but their intelligence continues to surprise researchers, trainers and caregivers. Alligators can count, learn through positive reinforcement and figure out complicated behaviors on their own. They can even figure out how to open food containers!


Tortoises have shown a propensity for problem-solving, improving their performance in a timed maze test each time they try it. Snakes have also been found to have high cognitive abilities.

Social Learning

Long considered to be a trait exclusive to mammals and birds, social learning has recently been shown in reptiles. Reptiles that mimic the actions of their conspecifics can solve complex tasks and even learn to imitate specific behaviors. This type of learning allows for faster adaptation to changing environments and can help them avoid predators or acquire food sour 게코도마뱀 ces.

This is just one of many examples that show how intelligent reptiles can be. Their cognitive powers continue to surprise researchers and pet owners alike. Reptiles that are provided with mental and physical enrichment in their habitats, as well as given the opportunity to train behaviors, often exhibit this remarkable intelligence.

For example, scientists have shown that bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) can be trained to open trap doors by simply watching a demonstrator lizard do so. The experimental lizards were able to copy the actions of the demonstrator and successfully access a hidden reward, while lizards in the control group who observed the demonstration made no attempt to access the trap door. This is the first evidence that reptiles can demonstrate a form of social learning through imitation comparable to that observed in “higher” species.

Moreover, when a task is modified to require more than just the opening of a trap door, lizards who had been socially taught to do this correctly reached criterion in significantly fewer trials than lizards in the control group. This suggests that social information can be used to learn instrumental tasks in reptiles, which is consistent with the hypothesis that a complex 게코도마뱀 cognition evolved in reptiles early on.


While many people believe reptiles aren’t as smart as mammals and birds, new research is beginning to shed light on the intelligence of certain reptile species. Among them are crocodiles and snakes, both of which have been shown to show a certain level of intelligence and the ability to solve problems. These reptiles are also capable of learning through operant conditioning. For instance, they can be trained to respond to their name and touch a designated target during training sessions.

For example, in one study, researchers set up an experiment where they placed a wormy treat on the top of a wooden container. The researchers then labeled the containers with a color for those that contained worms and another for those that did not. The anoles were able to figure out the trick and began to associate the correct cap with the wormy treat after just a few tries.

These findings demonstrate that anoles are fast learners and can adapt to change, even if it violates their previous learning. This flexibility is a hallmark of intelligence, and it shows that the reptiles can use their brains to problem-solve.

Other reptiles like crocodiles and monitor lizards have been shown to display a similar level of intelligence in a variety of other ways, including learning how to navigate mazes and remembering locations of rewarding foraging patches. They can also follow social cues, such as observing bird movement, to opportunistically locate fig trees for their next meal.


Although it may seem surprising that reptiles are capable of performing impressive intellectual feats, these animals have been overlooked in comparison to mammals and birds. This is partly due to the fact that reptiles do not have a large number of neurons, and therefore cannot perform as well in experiments designed for mammalian species.

Despite this, there is a growing body of evidence that squamates are far more intelligent than was once believed. For example, chimpanzees use sign language to communicate with humans, elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, and crows can count to 100. But squamates are not just smart, they are also persistent learners. A new study has shown that red-footed tortoises can remember where they buried their food, even after 18 months of noshing on it.

The scientists tested the animals in a radial arm maze, which has eight spokes radiating from a central platform. The goal was for the tortoise to snatch a strawberry from each of the arms without returning to any she had already visited. The test was challenging for the reptile, because she had to make decisions about which arms to visit first in order to solve the maze efficiently.

The results suggest that tortoises have long-term memory, which is important for finding resources in the wild. This ability to retain information about the location of food could help them survive during droughts or other natural disasters.

Reversal Learning

Until recently, reptiles were not given much credit for their intelligence. They were thought to rely largely upon instinct, so it was assumed that they could not learn as quickly or easily as mammals or birds. As it turns out, reptiles have more than enough brain power to solve complex problems and adapt to their environment.

For example, a recent study found that alligators can be taught to open doors using positive reinforcement in the same way dogs and many other animals can be trained. The same experiment also found that alligators can count objects and recall locations in a maze. Other researchers have shown that alligators can remember rewards and follow social cues. For example, they have been observed following the movement of birds to opportunistically locate fig trees that are rich in insects for food.

The same kind of reversal learning task used to test mammal animals has also been shown to work well for reptiles. In fact, the reversal learning task is particularly useful for testing behavioral flexibility because it allows researchers to isolate decision-making from the consequences of the behavior.

The reversal learning task has been used to examine a variety of behavioral and cognitive abilities, including memory, problem-solving, and even prospective planning. A number of different approaches have been used, including the use of summary performance indices (e.g., number of perseverative errors) and the analyzing learning curves in a blockwise fashion.