Rats Pick Saving Friends Over Chocolate

<p> Shutterstock </p>
<p> Shutterstock </p>

Rats have proven time and time again they don't deserve their bad reputation - but this new discovery's a doozy.

A new study has proven what rat owners already know: Rats feel empathy. When rats were shown an unhappy, soaked fellow rat in an area full of water, the rats quickly learned to open a door that let the other rat into the safe, dry area.

Even more impressively, when presented with the choice of chocolate or helping the other rat, most rats chose to help the wet rat before going to get their treat.


The study, which was published in Animal Cognition, also showed that rats who had previously been trapped in the "pool" area were quicker to save their peers, and that the rats didn't rush to open the door when there was no distressed rat behind it. Both of these findings indicate that rats are motivated by genuine empathy, just like humans feel when they see someone in trouble.

It's no secret that rats are loving, intelligent, considerate animals, but they just can't seem to shake their bad reputation. As this study shows, it's time we start giving them a lot more credit.