Humans and rats (even though unwittingly and unintentionally!) have lived in a close proximity since the beginning of time and while many people find their little rodent neighbours repulsive, humans and rats are not so different after all. Here’s some interesting examples proving how similar we are!
1. Warm blooded mamals
Humans and rats are warm blooded mammals, which means their body temperature stays roughly the same and the females give birth to live babies (or kittens, in case of rats). Both human and rat babies are being cared for by the mum, until they are ready to be weaned off milk and live life independently. Behaviours similar in both instances include cleaning, feeding and protecting the newborns from harm.
When you think about human and rat’s bodies, you don’t really notice the immediate similarities in the way they look. Interestingly enough, the construction of the internal organs, responses to brain stimuli and even developing of diseases are practically the same in both rats and humans! As a matter of fact, it has been proven that nearly all diseases present in humans, have their counterparts in a rat’s body and that’s why rats are so often used as test subjects in laboratories. Also, genetically speaking, humans and rats share over 90% of genetic composition, making them a nearly perfect match when it comes to finding cures for many conditions, including cancer.
3. Rats have personalities too!
Rats, just like humans, develop specific traits and personalities, which differentiate them from each other. It happens very often that even rats from the same litter are completely different when it comes to their behaviour, interacting with cage mates and humans. Especially noticable in pet rats, you can easily gage which of them is more outgoing and which one is shy, which one is inquisitive and which one holds back. A lot of rats also display high levels of intelligence and eagerness to learn new things and can keep themselves entertained for hours with mazes, puzzles and toys.
4. Rats dream like humans
Another interesting similarity between humans and rats is their ability to dream while asleep. Dreams form while we reach the REM stage of sleep and we can quite often have multiple dreams during the night. Same goes for rats! According to research consisting of mapping rat’s brain via electrodes, rats store mental images in their hippocampus of places where they have been and can replay them during sleep as we would. They can also dream about places they would like to go and explore, for example a far corner of the room which they’ve seen from afar but not yet gone to. Many pet rat owners say that their rodents often twitch and make noises while they doze off, and while we can’t tell for sure what images they are seeing, it’s so entertaining to watch!
5. Social situations
Humans and rats both live in their respective communities with rules and hierarchy. People form governments and create laws, rat groups are based on more natural pecking order, complete with alpha leader and the followers. In an experiment that took place in USA between 1950s and 1980s, a group of rats was placed in a room filled with food sources, water and makeshift ‘housing’. Rats were free to roam around anywhere and breed without any restrictions. After a while, when their numbers started growing rapidly, a sort of overcrowded, urban city has formed and many well known issues of big human conglomerations started happening in the rat society. Groups of young male rats formed “gangs” that bullied others into submission and compliance, there was more violence and vicious fighting, mothers started to abandon or outright murder their children and some rats even participated in rape like “crimes”. Doesn’t that sound a lot like any given big city humans live in?
6. Rats feel compassion
On a more upbeat note, rats are also perfectly capable of expressing many positive, human like, behaviors including showing affection, being friendly or even feel love. It has been proven via various studies that rats feel compassion, especially for other rats. In one of the experiments, one rat was allowed to free roam anywhere in the room while the other one stayed locked up in the cage. When faced with a dillema whether to accept food or release the caged mate, rats would choose the latter, therefore showing compassion to their own kind. Many pet rats also care for their elderly, incapable or sick fellow cage mates by grooming their fur, bringing them food or even dragging them into a nest where they can be comfortable and safe. It’s very touching to watch and humans could learn a lot from rats in that respect.
7. Rats are athletic
Have you ever seen a gymnast competing in the Olympics or watched a circus performer walking on high ropes? Of course you have! The way they hold themselves steady and can conquer even the most unstable and thin surfaces, that’s what rats have been doing ever since they started walking the Earth. Thanks to their long tail, rats are experts at keeping balance and manoeuvring on the narrowest walkways. To observe them do it is like watching the most entertaining circus show or gymnastic performance. Just another interesting thing people and rats have in common.
If you ever had any doubts about similarities between humans and rats, they should be all gone now! While we only listed a few of the intriguing facts, it clearly shows that humans and rats are more alike than we think. No wonder why rats are used in experiments and studies, that are meant to help humans in the future. Maybe instead of recoiling in disgust, we should have more respect and appreciation to these adorable rodents and embrace the fancy variety as pets in our families! If you are wondering, whether rats are the right pets for you, check out this article. One thing is certain: humans and rats have lived along each other since the beginning of time and that’s not going to change anytime soon!If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and on your social media! Also leave us a comment below with your thoughts or questions.