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Which Animals Can Recognize Their Own Reflection?

Relatively few animals have the ability to recognize their own reflection. The measurement for self-recognition is the mirror test, a psychological test developed by Gordon Gallup, Jr. Animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror include dolphins, orcas and elephants.

More on the mirror test:

  • Human children generally cannot recognize their own reflection until they are about 18 months old.

  • Some birds have passed the mirror test, including European magpies and trained pigeons, although it is not clear whether pigeons in general have the self-awareness to pass the test.

  • Gorillas have had difficulty with the test, although Koko, a gorilla that uses sign language, has passed it. Researchers suspect that gorillas' problems with the test might be because gorillas consider direct eye contact a sign of aggression.

Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
Discussion Comments
By anon346870 — On Sep 01, 2013

Pigeons can recognize themselves in the mirror, but cats can't recognize themselves at all.

By anon299017 — On Oct 23, 2012

I had a dog that would look at herself in the mirror whenever she got a new toy. seeing herself with the toy in her mouth was rather convincing that she was in fact checking herself out.

By anon298836 — On Oct 22, 2012

It would appear that cats often recognize themselves in the mirror. At first they look behind it as kittens and then seem to know it is themselves. Any proof or ideas?

By anon298798 — On Oct 22, 2012

I thought cats could also see themselves in a mirror! They have frontal lobes, just like humans. The problem is that it's only an image without other senses, like sound and smell, so beyond the first few times, the mirror image is ignored.

By Gurenda — On Oct 22, 2012

As a young girl I used to keep budgerigars/budgies as pets and clearly remember that one or the other male would "make love" to a mirror I had added to its cage watching it as it was actually reaching orgasm.

It may have recognized not itself, but it did recognize the reflection of another, hopefully female, bird, thus showing that the mirror image was acknowledged and reacted to? Bird brain!

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
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