John Fryxell on the counting skills of wild animals on CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks
John Fryxell, the executive director of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at The University of Guelph explains that animals can be trained to evaluate the number of objects with some accuracy, especially if there is a food reward.
But generally, animals in the wild, like wolves in a pack, can measure relative magnitude in terms of ratio, rather than actual counting when it comes to an encounter with prey or predators. This is also true of primates and some birds. Humans also do better at assessing ratio or proportions rather than actual numbers.