Unlike popular belief, rats are not dirty. They are fastidiously clean animals, grooming themselves several times a day. In fact, rats and mice are less likely than other animals to catch and transmit parasites and viruses. The Government of India has actually passed a law allowing a certain percentage of rat droppings in grain ! The only reason that they are labeled ‘unclean’ is because we produce trash and dirt and they clean it up . If we were cleaner , they would be too. In fact a rat’s skin has a very pleasant perfume-like scent.
Mice and rats are highly social animals—they communicate with each other at high-frequency sounds that you can’t hear , play together, wrestle, and love sleeping curled up together. Much like us, if they do not have companionship, they can become lonely, anxious, depressed, and stressed. They live together in groups. The males are more placid than females and they are most active during the first half of the night, if food is abundant. They are only active during daytime hours when food is scarce, or their nests have been disturbed, or when a poison has been used and the population is sick. They have no desire to harm or disturb humans, and only come in contact when there is nothing left to do or nowhere else to go. The notion that they are dependent on our waste and us is not only false but an insult to their ingenuity and creativity.
In July New Scientist reported that if rats benefit from the kindness of strangers they become altruistic themselves, helping complete strangers .Claudia Rutte and Michael Taborsky of the University of Berne, Switzerland, trained rats to pull a lever that released food for their partner in the next cage. If the rats subsequently received snacks released by lever-pulling strangers in neighbouring cages, they were more likely to lever-pull and so feed another unfamiliar rat in the future. In other words, the scientists discovered a general level of cooperation in the population. Theoretically, such "generalised reciprocity" shouldn't exist. Like humans , rats should take advantage of helpful strangers and offer nothing in return. But they don’t. For rats, kindness is a way of life.
Rats can memorize their environment and never forget a route. This is important because they have bad vision. They have an excellent sense of smell.
Both mice and rats are also highly sociable animals. They become attached to each other, love their own families, and easily bond with their human guardians, returning as much affection as is given to them. Many rats will even “groom” their human companion’s hand and would appreciate a massage, a scratch behind the ears, or even a tickle in return. A happy rat will chatter or grind its teeth. Often, chattering teeth results in "vibrating" eyes, caused by the lower jawbone pressing the backs of the eyes. This is a good sign, regardless of how silly it looks.
In fact they are like people. They enjoy eating, playing, sleeping, and having lots of sex. After engaging in sex, male rats sing at frequencies beyond the hearing of humans, around 20 to 22 KHz !
Rats have personalities, and they can be glum or cheerful depending on their upbringing and circumstances. One study showed that rats accustomed to good times tend to be optimists, while those reared in unstable conditions become pessimists. Both rats will learn to associate one sound with a good event a gift of food and another sound with no food, but when exposed to an ambiguous sound, the optimist will run over expecting to be fed and the pessimist will grumble and skulk away, expecting nothing.
Rats love to laugh, specially young rats. Scientists say giggling, ticklish rats have provided them with the first evidence that animals unrelated to humans can laugh. Scientists Jaak Panksepp and Jeffrey Burgdorf, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio have discovered that rats "laugh" when tickled. Rat laughter consists of high-pitched, chirping whistles, outside the range of human hearing. They found that young rats chirp vigorously during rough-and-tumble play sessions and that they chirped more than their older relatives when tickled. According to the scientists, this fits in with the idea that children are more ticklish than adults. Mr Panksepp told New Scientist magazine: " They clearly have a sense of fun. Keeping rats laughing isn't difficult. They're small, of course, but it's really no different than running your fingers as if you're tickling a child.You get the most laughter at the nape of the neck, where they direct each other's play behavior. When they play together its like a children’s playground" Rats register their gratitude with little nips.
They are as choosy as us with food. They like variety and pick around their food, eating the tastiest parts first, and separating out what they dislike. Tt’s a myth that rats like cheese, in fact they are lactose intolerant or allergic to cheese
While in the west rats are considered pests, eastern cultures are far more tolerant and respectful of all life. The Egyptians deified them. In Imperial Chinese culture, the rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are expected to possess qualities associated with rats. These include creativity, honesty, generosity, ambition, a quick temper . They are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex..
In the Indian pantheon of Gods , the rat is the vehicle of Lord Ganesh and a rat’s statue is always found in a temple of Ganesh. In fact, in the northwestern city of Deshnoke, in the Karni Mata Temple, the rats are held to be destined for reincarnation as Sadhus. The priests feed milk and grain to both pilgrims and animals. Eating food that has been touched by rats is considered a blessing from god.
Those who have kept rats as companions will tell you how much they loved them and what they learned from them, just like a dog or a cat. The only thing rats need to become more popular is a good public-relations campaign, and maybe a new name. Short-tailed squirrels, maybe? Next time you see a rat, discard the training that you have been given and take time to appreciate the clever and gentle creature that God has made to share your world.