Sep 6, 2021
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We are of the same blood

We are of the same blood

The rat is feared and hated.

They poison and kill. And she lives. Why? The secret is in her intelligence. Ilya Gomyranov, a zoologist, an employee of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, told us about this.

– Not very pleasant, you know, a combination: intellect and some kind of rat …

– Something ?! Did you know that the average IQ in rats is like that of a 3-4-year-old child? The mind is a tool given by nature. And intelligence is the acquired skills. The rat, like a man, learns all his life.

By the way, rats are an example to human parents. These animals raise their young according to the rules: do as I do! And no punishment. If the rat has rolled out of the nest, it will emit screams at a frequency of about 32 kHz (the area of ​​maximum sensitivity of rats to ultrasound). And this is a signal for the mother: grab and drag! Mother carefully monitors, warms, shifts the children: someone in the middle, someone on the contrary. Is it because rats in adulthood have adapted to fit in such a way that they even survive the arctic cold? In addition, the rat is by nature cleanliness: it washes before and after eating and sex.

– Yeah … Clean … Who spread the plague in the Middle Ages?

– It’s not about rats, but about the parasites that are on them. And as scientists at the Agricultural University of Tanzania have established, rats can detect tuberculosis in humans by the smell of sputum! And at an early stage. Today experts know about a variety of sounds emitted by rodents – they have recorded more than 500 rat “words”. They warn their relatives about danger by emitting special alarm sounds. And rats, like people, have abstract thinking.

Gray rats (Rattus norvegicus) lived in East Asia and settled around the world with merchant ships. Adults weigh up to 400 grams, reach 25 cm in length.There are also huge Gambian rats the size of a small dog

– Listen to you, so disgusting rat – right “crown” of the animal world …

– How else? The animal that has become so widespread is the crown. And the rat’s brain is more complex than that of many animals. She has perfectly developed both hemispheres, in the cortex there are a lot of neural connections, due to which the rat can simultaneously perform several actions, while calculating the result in advance.

– What else can a rat do? What is her intelligence?

– Unlike a human, a rat perfectly passes any difficult labyrinth. She instantly remembers which turns and where to make. Rats can even count to 12. She remembers 12 turns, then she gets confused. It will go where there is more food, even if the heaps look the same.

And rats are excellent predictors. They know how to calculate in advance what benefits they can derive. Imagine four windows, in each of which a rat is given some kind of tasty treat. But where they give more, they do it with a delay. And where there is less, they give more often. And what? The rat immediately realized: it is better to take a little bit of sweetness, but where they give it faster. There was also an experiment where a rat needs to open a complex lock. She did it. But the individual, who simply watched and studied, also coped with it.

Rats know how to sympathize and will always come to the aid of a relative in trouble. Several rats were tested with salted water poured onto their backs. The fur was stuck together, and the rats could not cleanse themselves. But their relatives helped them. And more willingly – to those who once helped them. According to the principle: “You are for me, I am for you.”

“But rats are aggressive. Probably, they would have killed Princess Tarakanova in Flavitsky’s painting …

– Absolutely not. There is simply no need for a rat to attack. They are generally not too aggressive, they even try not to enter into conflicts with relatives who offended them.

– And where is their intelligence when they eat their cubs?

– The intellect is to blame for this. From the point of view of the rat, it does this so that children do not end up in a hostile world where there is no food and water. An experiment was carried out: the tailed beasts were settled in a room with ideal conditions. They multiplied rapidly. But when there was almost no room left, the rats sharply reduced their population. Some even “made” themselves an abortion: they stopped the development of the fetus. They had a miscarriage. By the way, when rats stopped reproducing, homosexual relationships and narcissistic rats appeared in this semblance of human society …

One rat brings up to 60 pups per year. In Moscow alone, there are more than 10-12 million rodents. The lifespan of a rat is 2-3 years.

Inexplicable, but true: rats sense danger. No wonder there are legends about rats fleeing from a ship. And they noticed: the rats ran away not only from the sinking ship. During the bombing, people tried to hide where there were rats. The bombs did not get there. And also these cute animals are very musical …

– Well, then, when you see the rats, you have to play the flute? And they will run after the musician, like in Selma Lagerlef’s fairy tale?

– Of course not, but rats experience positive emotions from melodies of a certain orientation. They can even laugh, for which they use ultrasound with a frequency of 50 kHz. And it’s easy to ward off a rat. She needs … to offend! Do not kill with a rat trap, but buy a live trap, where the door slams. Take the rat away from the shelter and release it. Rest assured, she will not appear in your house again. The rat remembers that you didn’t feed it, and even locked it in jail.

– There are still too many rats. It’s good that there is deratization …

– So what? Rats do not react to many poisons. Again, it’s about intelligence. Rats are very observant. And if the gray became ill, or the rat died, others will not come close to the food! Rats, unlike humans, never step on the same rake. And in general, they become resistant to poisons. They pass on this immunity to the next generations.

The rat lends itself well to training, responds to a name, and can become a true friend. And how happy the owner is …

– But where does the fear of the rat come from then?

– It is not the rat itself that causes terror, but its bare tail. This is a subconscious, evolutionary fear: the naked wriggling tail of a rat was associated with snakes and worms in our ancestors. Even when newborn children were shown wriggling snakes, the crumbs of fear dilated their pupils.

– And why exactly mice and rats are used in the laboratories of the world?

– The structure of rats is very similar to ours. They also suffer from human diseases. For example, epilepsy. They study this ailment. Rats are also prone to cancer. Scientists use them to practice the fight against cancer.

At the University of Richmond, biologists taught rats to operate tiny machines. We found out that the exercises had a positive effect on the psyche of the rat due to the release of anti-stress hormones. Perhaps a medicine will be created that will help people with PTSD.

– Will rats live on Earth in 1000 years?

– There will be absolutely certain, but I think there will be fewer of them in the cities. After all, the cities will be made of concrete. Products will change, waste will no longer be thrown into trash heaps, and will be disposed of differently. And what will the rats eat then? But along with evolution, the rat intelligence will also develop. They will adapt, just like humans. We are of the same blood!

Maria Rozhdestvenskaya

Photo: Adobe stock

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