Study: Rats are social animals who show empathy for others

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Credit goes to my brother Gary for providing the link to this article concerning a study on rat behavior at the University of Chicago. The details were reported in the December 9 issue of Science, as highlighted in a Science News article.

(NOTE – You often see that I take great pains to make sure I label links and sources to credit these sources. It has always been important to me to make sure I do this.)

In the study, one rat is placed in small, clear enclosure with latched door. Another rat is placed outside of the smaller cage and eventually, after several days of hour-long sessions, discovers a way to free his buddy. Once the one rat is free, there is a “frenzy of excited running.”

When the cages where empty or when a stuffed toy was used, the rats showed no interest in opening the door. Researches introduced pieces of chocolate to the experiments and in more than half of the trails, the “hero” rats left chocolate for their freed buddies.

This sort of study and its findings are becoming more commonplace and more in the mainstream of science. We are slowly removing the curtain from the worn out and false claims that animals do not have feelings or are not able to empathize for others.

I believe that as we move forward in time, new findings such as this will raise awareness about animal cognition, self-awareness and their thought processes. And those tired, old statements about anthropomorphism will fade into history.