“It’s a rat,” I said.
“It’s not a rat. It’s a really big mouse,” he said.
I wasn’t so sure. But one thing was clear. It was dead, courtesy of my cat, who tripped over her own kill in her rush to come into the warm house. It was clear that she had no empathy for the creature. We give rodents a hard time. Mice, I’m used to. Rats, on the other hand, I have trouble warming to. However, it appears that they’re actually pretty decent creatures, at least to each other.
Scientific American published an article entitled Jailbreak Rat, outlining the empathic nature of these creatures towards their friends. Not only that, but they also share. When a rat was placed inside a plexiglass cage, its’ friends would learn how to set them free, and do so, repeatedly. This became even more remarkable when the free rat had the choice between a cage of chocolate chips, or their caged friend. They still chose the friend, then opened the sweet shop, and shared the bounty.
The purpose of these experiments, is to show, where possible, that animals share altruistic qualities with humans. Personally, I would strongly question whether we humans would act in as selfless a manner if put in the same experiment.