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Cutest Experiment Ever Shows That Rats Love Playing Hide And Seek

Amy Pilkington 9 Oct 2019

Rats are one of those animals that have a complicated relationship with humanity. They're loving pets, but they are also at least partially to blame for the Black Death. I mean, technically the plague was passed by fleas, but it was the rats that acted as their public transportation.

They're adorable, but also pretty gross when you find them tearing apart your trash bags for food. Rats also procreate like crazy, which is part of why they're a popular lab animal. That, and people complain less when you experiment on rats than say, cute bunnies.

Now, I'm not here to debate the ethics of experimenting on or with animals.

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But rather, I'm here to share a particularly delightful experiment scientists from Berlin's Humboldt University decided to try out.

They'd heard from multiple people who have rats for pets that the animals liked playing complex games with their humans.

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In order to see this for themselves, they decided to test it out.

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Neurobiologist Michael Brecht, told CNN, "It has long been known that rats engage in simple forms of play — rough and tumble — but we wanted to know if they could do more complex games, like hide and seek."

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They put together a play area with cardboard barriers and remote-controlled boxes.

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Over the span of two weeks, they slowly showed the rats how to play the game, both as the hider as well as the seeker.

Successfully finding the researcher or being found resulted in some extra play and tickling as a reward.

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Not only did the researchers find it easy to teach them the game, but the rats seemed to enjoy it.

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When found, they began to rush away and hide again, forgoing the reward in favor of more of the game.

When hiding, the rodents stayed pretty quiet, but would "squeal with joy" when they were found or discovered the researcher's hiding spot. They even chose opaque boxes when provided with some that were transparent, showing an understanding of when they were actually hidden from sight.

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It's pretty darn adorable!

Sometimes science means chemistry and complicated math, but sometimes it means playing childhood games with cute rats.

And that's fine by me!

h/t: CNN

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