Humanosity says….To most people rats are vermin only good for extermination. We have a long history of deciding that there are good and bad animals – ones worth saving and protecting and others that we owe no regard. The research outlined in this article should make us question the moral basis of these attitudes as researchers have found rats that jump for joy….
It might seem like a research proposal for April 1st but German scientists have been playing hide and seek with a group of rats. The scientists would take cover behind various obstacles and then would encourage the rodents to try and track them down. The result was that the rats proved too adept at tracking down the hidden humans.
The adolescent males were taught to start each game in a closed box, which was opened remotely. From there, they quickly developed various strategies for finding the human players – including re-visiting spots they had been during previous rounds.
The researchers reversed the roles and the rodents soon learned to hide in opaque rather than transparent boxes. Each success was reinforced with positive social interaction rather than food and it seems that the rats were literally jumping for joy.
Konstantin Hartmann, from the Humboldt University of Berlin, said that the rats enjoyed the games so much that they didn’t want the activities to come to an end. The rats would run off and repeatedly hide in new locations indicating that they really didn’t want the activity to end.
Dr Hartmann said it showed the rodents enjoyed playing for the sake of play itself