It comes as no surprise that mice and rats are an annoyance. In fact, when you think of them, you almost certainly focus on the negative: They can spread pathogens that cause disease, infest your home, and cause property damage. They also have a bad reputation for being filthy. Their intelligence, on the other hand, may astound you. How intelligent are mice and rats, and why does it matter?
The Rodent’s Mind
It should come as no surprise that rodent brains are smaller than human brains. What’s amazing is that, according to research, rat brains are structurally and functionally similar to human brains. For many years, people assumed rats were deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly de Harvard researchers, on the other hand, have demonstrated that their vision and processing abilities are advanced enough to recognize 3-D objects despite changes in size or orientation. They can even tell when a film contains rats.
There are a number of natural rodent behaviors that indicate intelligence. Mice, for example, have several ways of communicating with one another. They can communicate by making distinctive squeaks and chirps. Some vocalizations, referred to as ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs), are so high-pitched that humans cannot hear them. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that mice can sing
Urine, which contains pheromones that can spread important messages, and body language, such as tail drumming, can also be used to communicate with mice.
Some mice, such as certain species of deer mouse, are monogamous and provide parental care to their offspring. Deer mice have also been observed digging burrows to protect themselves from predators. The type of burrow formed depends on the species, soil type, and geography.
Rodents are social animals. Rats are known to live in groups, and a group of rats is appropriately referred to as “mischief.” They engage in social behaviors such as grooming, sleeping together, and playing within these communities. They have also been observed to be aggressive toward unfamiliar rats.
Rodents in the Laboratory
Scientists have used rats in psychology experiments for over a century, owing to their brain structure’s similarity to the human brain and their decision-making abilities. Rats, according to researchers, can find and stick to a good pattern, and they are less likely to second-guess themselves than humans.
Mice were long thought to be less intelligent than rats, but new research shows that this is not the case. In fact, studies show that mice and rats have many of the same decision-making abilities. This means that mice, like rats, can be trained in the lab and used to study and understand human behaviors.
Why Is Rodent Intelligence Important?
Why should pest control technicians be concerned about rodent intelligence? Understanding rodent behavior, for example, can assist professionals in detecting infestations and determining the best course of removal and control. Rodents can adapt to a variety of food sources, and on top of that, they are notoriously successful breeders. To be effective, rodent control professionals must understand what attracts rats and mice to homes, where they are likely to be found, and the behaviors they may exhibit.
Despite their bad reputations, rats are fascinating creatures. Are you still skeptical? Take a look at the ten facts about rats below.
- Rats are capable of swimming. Rats, believe it or not, could outperform Michael Phelps in the pool. Some rats can tread water for up to three days and hold their breath for three minutes. Furthermore, some species can swim for more than a mile. And stories about rats appearing in toilets are not urban legends. They can easily gain access to your pipes.
- Some cultures revere rats. More than 15,000 rats live in a temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Karni Mata in northwest India. These rodents are revered and protected, and human temple devotees believe that when they die, they will be reincarnated as rats.
- Their Tails Help Them Stay Cool. Rats do not sweat like humans, nor do they pant like dogs to relieve heat. Rats, on the other hand, regulate their body temperature by expanding and contracting the blood vessels in their tails.
- The teeth of a rat never stop growing. Rats have a reputation for gnawing on things, and for good reason. Their teeth can grow at a rate of up to 5 inches per year. They must chew on things in order to wear them down. Rats can gnaw through lead, cinder blocks, and aluminum sheeting in addition to wood.
- Rats Come in a Variety of Colors. The majority of people are familiar with Norway rats (brown rats), pack rats, and roof rats (black rats). Many people are unaware that there are 56 known species of rats in the world.
- Some rats grow to be quite large. True, there are some large rats out there rummaging through garbage cans, but the rats most people are accustomed to seeing are small in comparison to some of their larger rodent relatives. The Sumatran bamboo rat, for example, can weigh up to 8.8 pounds and reach a total length of 20 inches. That is roughly the size of a small housecat. The Gambian pouched rat, while not as heavy at 3 pounds, can grow to be 3 feet long from nose to tail.
- Rats are Excellent Breeders. One of the most well-known facts about rats is their ability to reproduce quickly. Every three weeks or so, a female rat can reproduce. When she gives birth, the litter usually consists of six to ten pups. When these pups reach sexual maturity at three to four months of age, they can start spawning their own broods.
- They are Social Creatures. The majority of rat species live in communities where they groom, sleep, and even play with one another. They are territorial, however, and can become aggressive toward unfamiliar rats. A “mischief” is a group of rats.
- Rats can transport pathogens that cause disease. Yes. One of the most well-known facts about rats is that they can carry pathogens that cause diseases in humans. Rats and mice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can transmit over 35 diseases. They were even to blame for a monkeypox outbreak in 2003.
- Rats Have the Ability to Laugh. When rats play, they experience what Jaak Panksepp, a researcher, refers to as “social-joy.” What was the end result? They laugh, but not with a hearty chuckle like a human would. They instead make a high-pitched chirping noise.