Rats look out for each other

Turns out rats are more emphatic than we first would have guessed. Scientists at the University of Chicago wanted to see if rats would try to help their fellow rats who were in trouble. They took two rats, placing one of them in a small box that could be opened from the outside. The other rat was left right outside the cage. The results were interesting.
Initially, the free rat would circle the cage, digging and biting at it. After about seven days of encountering its trapped friend, the roaming rat learned how to open the cage and liberate the trapped rat. “It’s very obvious that it is intentional,” Bartal says. “They walk right up to the door and open the door.” The liberation is followed by a frenzy of excited running.
Empty cages didn't inspire the rats to open them at all. Only 5 rats out of 40 learned to open them, but a staggering 23 out of 30 rats learned to open the cage when a fellow rat was placed inside.

Even chocolate didn't have much effect in averting their attention from rescuing their fellow friend. About half of them still chose to go for the trapped rat than go rescue a piece of chocolate from another cage. But even more surprisingly more than half of the time the hero rat left some chocolate for the just-released rat.
 “As humans, we tend sometimes to have this feeling that there’s something special about our morals,” says neuroscientist Christian Keysers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam, who was not involved in the study. “It seems that even rats have this urge to help.”
I'm starting to wish that I had a rat for a pet.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/336819/title/He%E2%80%99s_no_rat%2C_he%E2%80%99s_my_brother
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