Rats Display Human-Like Empathy

Elvis_the_RatRats are better than many people. The Telegraph writes:

Rats actually display human-like empathy and will unselfishly go to the aid of a distressed fellow rodent, research has shown.

The results of an experiment in which rats opened a door to free trapped cage-mates astonished scientists. No reward was needed and not even the lure of chocolate distracted the rescuing rats.

”This is the first evidence of helping behaviour triggered by empathy in rats,” said US study leader Professor Jean Decety. ”There are a lot of ideas in the literature showing that empathy is not unique to humans, and it has been well demonstrated in apes, but in rodents it was not very clear.”

Psychology graduate student Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal, who helped devise the experiment, pointed out that the rats were not trained in any way. ”These rats are learning because they are motivated by something internal,” she said. ”We’re not showing them how to open the door, they don’t get any previous exposure on opening the door, and it’s hard to open the door. But they keep trying and trying, and it eventually works.”

Commenting on the research, Professor Jaak Panksepp, a US veterinary expert at Washington State University, said: ”There is no question that all other animals have emotional feelings. The science is strong for that. And all our strongest basic emotional feelings come from brain networks all mammals share.”

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  • religious?well_forgive_me

    My girlfriend had a rat and man, the things he could do. Very friendly, would giggle when tickled and could stop what he was doing if you called him. Super smart and would love to cuddle in your hood if you were playing video games. I think we should get another one.

  • religious?well_forgive_me

    My girlfriend had a rat and man, the things he could do. Very friendly, would giggle when tickled and could stop what he was doing if you called him. Super smart and would love to cuddle in your hood if you were playing video games. I think we should get another one.

  • BrokenEgo

    Humans are the only animals unaware of the collective consciousness. We like to think we are unique, special autonomous creatures. All that leads to is Hell and your welcome to it. I like the Big Mind, little ego is a joke.

    • Frederick Appleton

      You say that but really nature is filled with utterly horrific things. It is species vs species out there! 

      • Anarchy Pony

        That’s a very ignorant assumption to make. Almost all species must conform to the needs of their natural communities in order to maintain healthy balance and a continuation of the ecosystem as a whole. If they start resorting to hyper exploitation of their surrounding ecosystem, it usually in the long term leads to a collapse of their population and potentially extinction.

        • Frederick Appleton

          ..and yet in spite of this marvelous ‘healthy balance’,  the vast majority of species that have ever existed have succumbed to extinction. Stability in nature is limited and there is no point to any of it. 

          • Anarchy Pony

            Your ignorance is pathetic. I said in my post, that when some creature begins to hyper exploit its environment, that’s when it collapses. You’re an anthropocentrist apologist, please FOD.

          • Frederick Appleton

            That is one cause of instability, one of many. I think your characterization of me is wildly inaccurate- I am someone who just recognizes life on earth for what it is. You seem to have the comfortable perspective of someone who is very well-fed.  This, from the Norwegian philosopher Zapffe, is more like how things are:

            “At its most elemental level the human organism, like crawling life, has a mouth, digestive tract, and anus, a skin to keep it intact, and appendages with which to acquire food. Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to feed–a struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a science-fiction nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh.”

  • BrokenEgo

    Humans are the only animals unaware of the collective consciousness. We like to think we are unique, special autonomous creatures. All that leads to is Hell and your welcome to it. I like the Big Mind, little ego is a joke.

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • justagirl

    i think the scientists are confusing empathy with the instinct for survival of the species.  the rat probably would not turn down chocolate to rescue a mouse or other trapped animal..  unless it was going to eat it.  empathetic humans on the other hand will rescue other species of animal if they think it is in distress.  

  • Frederick Appleton

    You say that but really nature is filled with utterly horrific things. It is species vs species out there! 

  • Frederick Appleton

    You say that but really nature is filled with utterly horrific things. It is species vs species out there! 

  • anti_secret_squirrel

    I don’t have to be a scientist and do such a simple experiment to know that rats have empathy.  I have two pet rats and I have to say they are the best pets to have. They are easy to hide (if you are not allowed to have a traditional pet where you live), they are quite for the most part, and they are just as affectionate (if not more) than a cat or a dog.  Yes, a whole lot of people have misconceptions about them such as they are dirty and have diseases but the fact is they are clean, loving little animals.

  • anti_secret_squirrel

    I don’t have to be a scientist and do such a simple experiment to know that rats have empathy.  I have two pet rats and I have to say they are the best pets to have. They are easy to hide (if you are not allowed to have a traditional pet where you live), they are quite for the most part, and they are just as affectionate (if not more) than a cat or a dog.  Yes, a whole lot of people have misconceptions about them such as they are dirty and have diseases but the fact is they are clean, loving little animals.

  • Anarchy Pony

    That’s a very ignorant assumption to make. Almost all species must conform to the needs of their natural communities in order to maintain healthy balance and a continuation of the ecosystem as a whole. If they start resorting to hyper exploitation of their surrounding ecosystem, it usually in the long term leads to a collapse of their population and potentially extinction.

  • Anarchy Pony

    That’s a very ignorant assumption to make. Almost all species must conform to the needs of their natural communities in order to maintain healthy balance and a continuation of the ecosystem as a whole. If they start resorting to hyper exploitation of their surrounding ecosystem, it usually in the long term leads to a collapse of their population and potentially extinction.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Human-like empathy? What a joke, we hardly have a monopoly on empathy, especially when our current society seems to be doing everything it can to beat it out of us.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Human-like empathy? What a joke, we hardly have a monopoly on empathy, especially when our current society seems to be doing everything it can to beat it out of us.

  • Anarchy Pony

    Human-like empathy? What a joke, we hardly have a monopoly on empathy, especially when our current society seems to be doing everything it can to beat it out of us.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BY6K4DLG4FCJTDIXFHCUCTAP2U NukL

    Those rats must not be Republicans.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BY6K4DLG4FCJTDIXFHCUCTAP2U NukL

    Those rats must not be Republicans.

  • Frederick Appleton

    ..and yet in spite of this marvelous ‘healthy balance’,  the vast majority of species that have ever existed have succumbed to extinction. Stability in nature is limited and there is no point to any of it. 

  • Anarchy Pony

    Your ignorance is pathetic. I said in my post, that when some creature begins to hyper exploit its environment, that’s when it collapses. You’re an anthropocentrist apologist, please FOD.

  • Frederick Appleton

    That is one cause of instability, one of many. I think your characterization of me is wildly inaccurate- I am someone who just recognizes life on earth for what it is. You seem to have the comfortable perspective of someone who is very well-fed.  This, from the Norwegian philosopher Zapffe, is more like how things are:

    “At its most elemental level the human organism, like crawling life, has a mouth, digestive tract, and anus, a skin to keep it intact, and appendages with which to acquire food. Existence, for all organismic life, is a constant struggle to feed–a struggle to incorporate whatever other organisms they can fit into their mouths and press down their gullets without choking. Seen in these stark terms, life on this planet is a gory spectacle, a science-fiction nightmare in which digestive tracts fitted with teeth at one end are tearing away at whatever flesh they can reach, and at the other end are piling up the fuming waste excrement as they move along in search of more flesh.”

  • Lester

    Alternative title: “Humans Display Rat-Like Empathy”

  • Lester

    Alternative title: “Humans Display Rat-Like Empathy”

  • Alejandro Witte007

    Wonder if those empathic rats would run experiments on humans.

  • Alejandro Witte007

    Wonder if those empathic rats would run experiments on humans.

  • Atkins1999_1999

    These rats must no be married woman they have no empathy for men!

  • Atkins1999_1999

    These rats must no be married woman they have no empathy for men!

  • itsrabbitstew

    …. that rat in the photo is too adorable.

  • itsrabbitstew

    …. that rat in the photo is too adorable.

  • gwen jackson

     wanna know something else hilarious about this study?

    Do you have any idea of how inhumanely our so-called human researchers treat their lab animals while they “study” them?

    And they’re still saying humans are the one’s with superior empathy?
    lol.