In a simple experiment, researchers at the University of Chicago sought to find out whether a rat would release a fellow rat from an unpleasantly restrictive cage if it could. The answer was yes.
The free rat, occasionally hearing distress calls from its compatriot, learned to open the cage and did so with greater efficiency over time. It would release the other animal even if there wasn’t the payoff of a reunion with it. Astonishingly, if given access to a small hoard of chocolate chips, the free rat would usually save at least one treat for the captive— which is a lot to expect of a rat.
The researchers came to the unavoidable conclusion that what they were seeing was empathy— and apparently selfless behavior driven by that mental state.
every time i see this i almost cry a little
the most important post in the universe is this.
I have pet rats and I say yes, they are so sweet. They’re very kind and they really do have the ability to love and care for others.
One of my pet rats (Poppy) is ‘disabled’. She doesn’t seem to think she is. Her tail was cut partially off, and one of her hands can’t grip anything and has a very limited range of motion. She’s also the sweetest little fuzz I’ve ever met. Her adoptive sister Molly, my other rat, (also very sweet) often helps her groom her face because she can’t reach the side of her hurt hand.
Molly does this just because Poppy can’t reach and she apparently thinks it’s just not right to not be entirely clean.
They both groom me to the best of their abilities when they get out of their cage as well. You wouldn’t believe the number of kisses I get from them every day. It’s easily a few hundred.
They also keep all their treats together and if one doesn’t like a specific type of treat, she gives it to her sister. Sometimes they trade treats, if they both like what the other has more.
I don’t understand why people are so stunned when these types of articles come up. Why is it so “astonishing” that animals portray empathy, the same as humans are capable of? Animals have feelings, too. They cry and moan in distress when their children are snatched away from them. They hop excitedly and tremble with joy when they can play with each other. Just because they do not express themselves in a way humans can understand does not mean they are incapable of feeling just as humans can. Or that they are incapable of great acts of kindness, in one way or another.
We should have realized that we are not the center of the universe. We are just ignorant - meaning we have trouble accepting the things that are unlike us. This is not that different from people being ignorant towards other people.