Rats Show Empathy, Save Each Other From Bad Situations In Study

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If you think rats were merely mindless pests, you might want to reconsider.

According to a study, rats feel empathy and will go out of their way to get others out of a bad situation.

The report published in Animal Cognition demonstrated that when rats saw their cagemates in a dire situation, in this case an unsafe area with water, they quickly learned how to operate a door-opening lever to get them to safety.

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Even more interesting, rats that had previously experienced being soaked themselves operated the lever even quicker.

The study also found that the rats would choose to save their cagemates instead of getting food for themselves, if given the option. The author of the study wrote, “rats chose to help the cagemate before obtaining a food reward, suggesting that the relative value of helping others is greater than the value of a food reward.”

This just goes to show us that humans aren’t the only intelligent and sentient beings out there.

rat 3Image: Alexey Krasavin

This isn’t the first shocking study on rat cognition. Research at a University in Belgium showed that in some cases, rats can outperform humans in tests of intelligence.

The researchers gave both the students and rats two “cognitive-learning tasks.” Ben Vermaercke, a researcher involved in the study said, “The rats did outperform the humans in the second task. They needed more practice with the initial set of patterns to figure out how to discriminate between “good” and “bad,” but when given the next set, they were able to apply what they’d learned more quickly.” You can read more on that study here.

Never underestimate a species!

See how rats are helping to protect humans in Africa: