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Top 10 Animals With the Lowest IQ (Explained)

Top 10 Animals With the Lowest IQ (Explained)

Humans are considered the most intelligent of all mammals. But we often do foolish things that don’t justify this claim. Hence the sayings – ‘dumb as a fox,’ jackass,’ ‘bullheaded,’ etc.

But, If it’s any comfort, some animal species can be good counterparts in stupidity. Not only because of their low intelligence but also because they frequently engage in illogical behavior that endangers their own lives and even the lives of the entire species.

That is why we have compiled a list of animals with the lowest IQ and solid evidence to back it up – a hint: the brain’s size is not necessarily correlated with intelligence level. 

10 Animals With the Lowest IQ

The assessment of animal intelligence is not simple, and many scientists would disagree on a single definition of the animal’s intelligence.

Still, some of the most common metrics used to assess an animal’s cognitive ability include learning, self-awareness, problem-solving, memory, processing speed, and decision-making. In simple words, a set of skills and abilities which help the animal to adapt and survive in a specific habitat.

And while there are some brilliant animals, like dolphins, ravens, or gorillas, there are also some quite stupid ones.

In a world with more than 8 million species, the competition for the dumbest animals is high, but we’ll look at the top 10, which, by our standards, have the lowest IQs.


giant panda eating in the nature

When talking about dumb actions that have brought animal species to the point of extinction, pandas probably come first to your mind. Yes, they are super cute and cuddly. But these gentle giants are also incredibly lazy and quite stupid animals.

Pandas are large mammals adapted to life in the wild. They have strong claws and sharp teeth necessary for catching prey. And what do they do instead? They chew bamboo leaves! 

In fact, pandas must eat these plants all day to provide a minimum of nutrients for survival. Without protein and fat, they don’t have the energy to hunt, climb trees, and, most importantly, mate, which is why the number of pandas in the wild declines. 

So, it should come as no surprise that pandas are at the top of the list of non-intelligent creatures, given that their laziness threatens the survival of their species.


black turkey on grass

Some animals justify the title ‘foolish’ with their weird looks. Indeed, turkeys would definitely be at the top if we’d list the least intelligent animal only by their appearance. 

Wide-spread eyes, odd head flips, and sloppy walk contribute to that. However, it was not the silly look that led turkeys on our low IQ animal list. 

Instead, it’s their thoughtless actions and the fact that they live lazy lives on farms. That’s why this poultry wouldn’t have a chance to survive in the wild.

Some farmers report their turkeys often stare at the sky while raining with their beaks open. And while they ‘enjoy’ the sight, water pours down their throats, causing them to drown. Pretty absurd way to die, to say the least.

Also, turkeys have a friendly character, which is why they get into trouble. And since they are very slow and often too heavy, these foolish birds become easy prey for predators and even domestic dogs and cats.


close up photo of a kakapo bird

Parrots are known as intelligent animals that can learn many tricks, thousands of words, and even whole songs. But the kakapo is the opposite of the prevailing opinion about these birds.

Kakapos are flightless birds that resemble owls. They’ve lived freely in New Zealand. They were the bosses, with all that food and space available and no predators in sight. So these birds haven’t developed the instinct to recognize danger and survive.

With the settlement of New Zealand regions, more capable and intelligent animals arrived. And kakapos became easy prey for them. As if that wasn’t enough, these dummy birds have found a way to destroy themselves – by not mating.

It’s not like kakapos don’t have the desire to reproduce. But they do everything wrong. From building an unusual mating nest to irritating females with their crying ‘love song.’ 

So it’s an absolute miracle there are still a few hundred birds that somehow survive.


sleepy koala sitting on a tree

Koalas are another endangered species. People, who often hunt and sell them for their fur or as pets, certainly contributed to this. But these animals also do a lot to put themselves in danger of extinction.

Let’s start with nutrition. Koalas are herbivores, and most of their diet consists of leaves of eucalyptus, acacia, and similar trees. But they’re so mindless that they’ll starve to death if a food source is not within reach!

Also, koalas are so clumsy and weak animals that they don’t even try to run away when threatened. 

Besides, koalas are an excellent breeding ground for bacteria and diseases, given that hygiene is not their cup of tea. So, do you still think they’re cute?

The reason for the koala’s odd behavior can be found in their anatomy. Their brains are so tiny (in proportion to body weight, koala brains are the smallest among mammals) and underutilized that these animals behave as if they’re high 24/7.

That makes them kinda cool but still dumb as a stump.


pink flamingo near the water

The flamingo is like a stupid blonde of the animal world. Sure, we shouldn’t generalize the fact that beauty and intelligence can’t go together. But in the case of flamingos, this statement is true. 

Despite being quite a sight, flamingos are not smart! 

Have you ever wondered why these flamboyant birds stand on one leg when they have two? And why on Earth do they sleep like that? 

Also, flamingos have a strange fishing technique. Namely, their beaks are upside down, which is not practical for catching fish. 

So why do they do that? The answers can be quite logical, but we still need to find them.

On rare occasions, flamingos’ intelligence shines. That usually happens when they get chicks, so they take good care of their youngsters. And that’s how these birds still resist all the challenges of their own stupidity. 

Secretary Birds

secretary bird walking on a grassy field

The ability to fly is a natural gift in the bird world, allowing them to travel faster, hunt more efficiently, and escape predators. However, some species seem to take that ability for granted. 

For example, the secretary bird has large wings but rarely flies. Yeah, that’s right. These low-IQ birds only utilize flying abilities to reach nests or during courtship.

Also, secretary birds use a strange hunting technique. They catch their prey while walking on the ground. First, that significantly reduces their vision. Second, they risk becoming prey rather than a hunter.

Furthermore, secretary birds are stupid enough to catch reptiles and rodents with their beaks instead of claws, which is not a wise move. Because if they miss, they can be bitten by a snake or a rodent and killed.


sloth hanging from a creeper

If you’ve watched Ice Age, you probably noticed Sid the sloth and his genius ideas that often get the animated buddies into trouble but also get them out of it. So you might have thought that real sloths are brainiacs, but nuh-uh.

On the contrary, sloths are slow, clumsy, often careless, and not too interested in the environment. In fact, these animals spend most of their days sleeping. And sometimes, they sleep so deeply that they unconsciously fall and die. 

Also, it is not uncommon for them to mistake a tree branch for their limb – leading to fatal consequences.

On rare occasions when sloths are awake, their main ‘hobby’ is hanging on trees and digesting food for several days and even weeks. 

So maybe it’s correct to say that these animals are super lazy rather than dumb. Or both?

Related: Most Useless Animals in the World


big-footed jerboa in the sand
Credit: Cliff, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons (edited)

When you live in harsh conditions, with limited food sources and predators all around you, you have to be extremely resourceful. Well, that’s not the case with the jerboa, a desert rodent with a strange appearance and even stranger behavior.

This unusual animal looks like a mix of a rabbit, a mouse, and a kangaroo. And in an ideal world, that would be a huge advantage. 

For example, long legs help jerboa run fast or jump when threatened. And large ears help them locate enemies and sense danger.

Yet, the reality is different. Yes, jerboas jump, but it takes them a few months to learn how. In the harsh desert, that’s a risk. 

Also, these animals don’t hoard their food, which many rodents do. They live day by day, which is not an intelligent way to survive in areas with limited food sources.


ostrich with its beak open

The bird species definitely took over this inglorious list of animals with the lowest IQ. Even the biggest of them, the ostrich, has found their place here. 

Probably because the anatomy simply doesn’t do these giant birds a favor, as ostriches’ brains weigh only 26.34 grams (less than an ounce). The whole brain represents about 0.015% of their total body weight.

Although ostriches deserve respect for their physical abilities, they’re not overly intelligent. In fact, every action of these giant birds seems to be thoughtless and reckless, from the point they’ll eat almost anything they run onto to the general behavior pattern when they’re in danger.

To conclude, ostriches don’t seem to be using their own strengths. So, instead of running away (with such long legs, an ostrich is one of the fastest two-legged animals) or fighting off predators, these dumb animals bow their heads to the ground and probably think they’re invisible. Seriously?

Komodo Dragons

komodo dragon crawling on a tree branch

Although they are powerful predators, Komodo dragons usually don’t pose a threat to humans. We can’t say they’re stupid animals because they’re not skillful or resourceful for life, but these giant lizards are existentially dumb.

In fact, they very often endanger themselves by not controlling their instincts.

For example, Komodo dragons can have weight issues, as they can eat almost the entire prey in one meal. And when their bellies are overloaded, they certainly don’t feel like running and climbing up. 

So it’s clear they can fall prey to many predators, even those smaller than them.

Also, these lizards don’t think of humans as a threat. So they’re often illegally hunted and tamed as pets. That could be one of the reasons these low-IQ animals are on the verge of extinction. 

Luckily, Komodo dragons are protected as a species, so if they don’t extinct themselves, no one else will.

Read Also: Most Hated Animals in the World

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