Some humans in the animal sheltering world could stand to learn a thing or two from our friend the rat.
A new study published in the journal Science reveals that rats are empathetic creatures. In a series of experiments, researchers placed a rat inside a tube, trapping him there temporarily, and placed the tube back in the cage with the rat’s buddy. They found that a rat will not only work to free his cage buddy from the tube, but when researchers added chocolate to the equation, the rat waited to eat the candy until his cage friend was free and could share it with him.
Even though, in the past, many scientists have assumed that altruistic behavior is something uniquely human, [Jeffrey] Mogil [of McGill University in Montreal] says we really should not be so surprised to see it in the lowly rat.
“Behaviors have to come from somewhere,” he notes. “And so it would be almost absurd to expect not to see some sort of simpler form of human sociabilities in other animals.”
Does this study change how you feel about rats? It definitely has affected my view of them, for the better. Of course there are those who keep rats as pets and have long extolled their virtues so this news may not come as a surprise to them.
How about “human sociabilities in other animals”, such as dogs and cats? Have you witnessed altruism for example, in your pet?