Mirror Test in the Woods

Dog looks in a mirror (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

9 January 2024

When we look in a mirror we know we’re looking at ourselves, but most animals cannot master this. In fact, baby humans don’t recognize themselves in mirrors until about age two.

@KeepingItWild set up a big mirror in the woods in Australia (i.e. “the bush”) and captured animal reactions. Interestingly many of the animals in this 8-minute video are not native to Australia. For instance: red deer, rabbits and pheasants.

video embedded from KeepingItWild on YouTube

According to Wikipedia, the only animals known to have passed the mirror test are great apes, a single Asiatic elephant, the Eurasian magpie, giant oceanic manta raysdolphinsorcas, and the cleaner wrasse (fish). (NEWS THIS WEEK! Apparently mice pass the test, too. See the comments!)

Sadly, in flight most birds are completely fooled. They fly into the reflection and die.

2 thoughts on “Mirror Test in the Woods

  1. We had a dog that would sleep in one spot in front of our stereo cabinet that had a smoked glass door. Over time he realized he could see reflections in it and recognized his humans and our one cats.. He’d use it to watch us and lay in wait for the one cat and ambush him. He would make eye contact with us via the glass when we were behind him. He also came to get that he was looking at himself too. It was amusing.

  2. Last night on Stephen Colbert, he talked about research that found mice recognize themselves in the mirror. The researchers marked one side of the face and when the mouse looked in the mirror, he tried to clean that side of the face.

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