|Rats are often misunderstood...
For many people, the word "RAT" invokes images ranging from giant sewer mutants to beadyeyed, mean-spirited baby-biters.
People love to hate the rat, and the reasons for this are varied and vague.
For centuries, rats have outsmarted people trying to get the better of these rodents with traps, poisons and ratproof areas. Rats, however are docile animals that put eating and socializing high on their priority list. They are affectionate, loyal, social and very clean. They make wonderful pets!
There are approximetely 1,800 species of rodents in seventy genera and eight families. these include kangaroo rats, wood rats, hamsters and gerbils. Rats are much larger than mice and belong to the genus Rattus, which contains 137 to 570 species, depending on the classification order used.
Rats are naturally cautious of unfamiliar things, they are not quick to eat anything they haven't had before, or investigate an item that is unfamiliar, such as a trap. They are also highly intelligent and able to learn from their own mistakes and the observed experiences of other rats. Often one rat in the rat pack is the designated taste- tester. If, after tasting, the rat doesn't get sick, the rest of the pack feels free to eat the new item. They also have a great ability to adapt to new poisons.
Rats have played important roles in many of the twenttieth centry's most important developments.
Around the early 1900's, rats and mice started being used for research. They have aided in the research of cancers, allergies, psycholgical studies regarding stress, separation anxiety, aggression, and habits. They've been instrumental in drug therapy for not only psychological illnesses, but also for viruses and common bacterial infections. The common cold continues to be studied using rats. Rats are such perfect role modles for testing due to their reactions to drugs, diet changes and diseases are similar to humans. They also tend to develop tumors as humans do.
Space Rats! Yes, rats in space. Long before anyone actually traveled in space, our little rat friends were testing machines that simulated the conditions of a journey in space. Their reactions to gravity changes, speed and dietary needs were carefully observed and monitored. Rats also took test flights in rockets to see how they were able to adapt to the "real" thing. If it were not for our little rat friends, we might not have walked on the moon.
Rats have amazed and astounded scientists with their high intelligence, reasoning and problem-solving skills. Rats also react to music, outside stimulation and memory test just like humans.
So, as you can see, rats have a long history on this earth. They are gentle, affectionate, clean and social with their own kind as well as with people. They are closely linked with humans, choosing to live near us and share our lifestyle. They are similar to us in nature and are extremely adaptable. They are considered the next "super-race", enduring whatever catastrophes arise and flourishing in spite of them. And as I have learned, and I hope you will, they are amazing creatures.