6 Reasons Why We Should Care About Rats
With rats, there is always more than meets the eye. They’re not just instinct-driven pests determined to infest your property. They’re actually very social, smart, and emotional creatures. As part of the largest family of mammals on the planet—the rodent family makes up more than 40 percent of all mammals—rats are here to stay. If you have a rat problem, think about investing in a humane rat trap, because rats deserve your respect just as any animal does. Here are six reasons you should care more about rats:
1. They’re smart.
Would you believe that rats frequently outperform humans in cognitive tests? There is a reason that cognitive experiments are so often performed on rats, not to mention the reason rats are so difficult to kill: Change prompts caution. Rats don’t function with careless curiosity, because they’re neophobic like humans and other animals. This phobia of new things means that when a change is introduced into the rat’s habitual path, the rodent becomes suspicious and cautious until it decides to adapt to the change.
Additionally, domesticated rats can be trained to understand basic human words and come running when you call their name.
2. They’re empathetic.
In a study by University of Chicago neurobiologist Peggy Mason, rats exhibited highly empathetic behaviors when the rodents opted to rescue a trapped cage mate in distress instead of retrieving a piece of chocolate—which rats love—from a separate cage. Even Mason was surprised by the rats’ sense of empathy: "The fact that the rat does that is really amazing."
3. They’re affectionate.
Rats can be just as emotionally dynamic as any other animal—they even love to snuggle and have been shown to be “as smart and affectionate as dogs.”
4. They love to laugh.
When rats are in a good mood, you can tickle them and they will elicit a high-pitched chirp of laughter. This is according to a study by Germany’s Humboldt University, published in Science, in which neurobiologists tickled the back, stomach, and tail of rats to see how they would react. The rats laughed and even did a “joy jump,” which is a phenomenon where the front and back legs move in tandem when tickled. “They were so excited,” said Humboldt Neurobiologist Shimpei Ishiyama, “pretty much like human kids, giggling and chasing around.”
5. They’re moral.
Rats are known to be incredibly social creatures, and their prosocial behavior was captured in a study by the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon. For this study, rats were placed in pairs, with one rat being the helper and the other being the partner. At the end of a double t-shaped maze, the helper had to decide whether to tap a door to receive a single pellet of food itself or tap another door to receive a pellet of food for both rats. Impressively, 70 percent of the time, the helper opted for food for both rats and only one of the 15 rats in the study made selfish choices.
6. They balance the ecosystem.
With reports of infestations popping up every day, rats being vital to the ecosystem might seem like a surprising reality, but rats actually play an important role in prompting tree growth around the world by spreading seeds. Rats often hoard seeds in underground stores for later consumption and then never return, so those seeds become new vegetation. In North America specifically, kangaroo rats exhibit this behavior and are responsible for seed sprouting, which is vital to a sustainable ecosystem.
Although it’s important to note that wild rats should never be approached, because they can bite and scratch humans and carry dangerous diseases and parasites, the fact that rats are highly emotional, affectionate, and clever creatures shows why you should care about rats. Buy A24 humane rat traps to protect your property from an invasion and your family from harmful chemicals, but also to respect the value of a rat’s life.