Rats have a long history as house pests, but how much do we really know about them?
For most of us, we see rats as nothing more than mere pests, rodents that like to ransack your kitchen while spreading some rather nasty diseases. But did you know that rats actually have some bizarre behaviours that are likened to that of humans and other primates? And, that they possess unique social behaviours that suggest a high level of intelligence?
Like humans, rats are social creatures, albeit devoid of speech. Rats actively seek out and enjoy the company of other rats. You may not know it, but domestic rats love being with humans, too.
Several laboratory studies show that rats tend to keep an eye on their group and make sure that everybody's safe, so that when someone's sick, they take care of them. Rats, just like humans, also love to be in the company of their "friends" becoming lonely or depressed when alone.
Due to their high level of brain intelligence, specifically long term memories, rats are frequently subject to experiments. On a maze test, when rats finally learn how to navigate the route, it usually becomes imprinted vividly in their memories.
Rats may have not been endowed with a speech organ as complex as humans, however they substitute that by grinding their teeth and by making chattering sounds to express their feelings. They are also known to vibrate their eyes and produce "laughter" sounds, to express their current emotion.
Just like humans, rats are susceptible to peer-pressure, choosing to disregard previous experience in favour of behaviours exhibited by their peers.
Resourceful And Adaptive
Rats are able to go without drinking water longer than a camel. This special ability comes from the rat being able to metabolise water from their food source. In extreme cases, they can go weeks without having to drink water at all.
They don't sweat either, so in order to regulate their body temperature, the blood vessels in their tail expand or constrict to release or trap the heat from their body, meaning their tail is used for body temperature regulation as well as balance.
Their teeth have an amazing ability to grow at an average of 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 inches each year. This is because they wear them down easily by gnawing on virtually almost anything, from wood to lead pipes, to cement and other small animals.
Religion And Pop Culture
Rats represent one of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac. And those born in the year 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, or 1996 are assumed to possess qualities similar to that of rats, such as being intelligent and resourceful as well as wasteful.
In Hindu beliefs, the rat goddess Karni Mata in Deshnok is revered in India and by other Hindus around the globe. A Hindu temple in India alone has 20,000 rats carefully cared for and held in high regard. These rats are believed to be reincarnations of Karni Mata, a Hindu deity, and members of her clan.