I have always wondered what animals see in the mirror. Living in Michigan I have grown up around many farm animals and numerous house pets. I thought I’d put my wonder to the test and see how the animals I own would respond if I put a mirror in their cage.
This was the most interesting of all the tests I did. I placed the mirror in to the cage of the rabbit and left it there for a few hours. I noticed the rabbit had come to inspect the mirror I had placed in and it wasn’t until an hour or so until I noticed any response. After about an hour I heard the rabbit chattering its teeth and looking aggressively at the mirror. It was clear the rabbit could see itself in the mirror, however couldn’t recognize itself.
I placed a mirror behind my dogs bed and near his water bowl to see if this would generate any reaction. Unfortunately, the dog didn’t react in any way to the mirror.
My cat previously used to jump up at the mirror to play with its own reflection so I knew I’d get some response from placing a mirror near my cat. The first response was when I placed the mirror near my cat when it was sleeping. When my cat woke up it immediately jumped back from its position before leaping towards the mirror. I can’t conclude if the cat could recognize itself or if it was just playing with its reflection. It definitely recognized a cat in the mirror.
Leaving my home experiments at that, I decided to do some research of my own. The first information I found was here. This described my discovery and clarified only certain animals can recognize themselves in the mirror. Currently only animals such as primates, dolphins, orcas, elephants and, surprisingly, European magpies can recognize themselves in a mirror but all animals can see a reflection in the mirror.