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Nicodemus

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Rats are Altruistic, handle Ambiguity, (and are Awesome) [Dec. 9th, 2011|02:43 pm]
Nicodemus
A new study finds that rats show altruism, freeing other rats and sharing food. (also here)

This is a pretty cool experiment which shows a rat helping a compatriot as well as sharing chocolate treats with them -- and I think we all know that sharing your chocolate is a true sign of friendship!

Another recent study on rat cognition, learning and dealing with ambiguous situations. Though the article opens by saying rats behave "as if they're rational creatures" [emphasis mine]. Ah well. Can't win everyone over to the wonder of rats right away, I guess. ;)

Just remember, someday you may meet rat-powered robots, so their altruism and rationality is important to you! (insert evil laugh)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ankhorite
2011-12-09 11:02 pm (UTC)

sharing chocolate treats

Got that right.
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From: avon_deer
2011-12-09 11:36 pm (UTC)
Then I look at the behaviour of people in my country and wish I was a rat.

Interesting article. Vampire bats do the same as well.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2011-12-10 05:42 am (UTC)
I had heard something similar about vampire bats. I think I'd heard that they would share with sick bats in the colony that weren't able to hunt that night.
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From: avon_deer
2011-12-10 09:32 am (UTC)
This is correct. A mutual support network that benefits all.
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[User Picture]From: shalora
2011-12-10 12:31 am (UTC)
Hmm. I would definitely work to let someone out of a cage. Sharing my chocolate? That's another question entirely. Clearly, rats are the superior species (and this is why I carefully selected a species of snake that will never get big enough to eat rats - because rats are awesome and I cannot make them be food).
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[User Picture]From: singingnettle
2011-12-10 06:32 am (UTC)
We've long seen sharing among the rats in our pet colony. Glad science caught up.
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[User Picture]From: singingnettle
2011-12-10 06:35 am (UTC)
We've also seen our adult (that is, 1-1/2 foot long, 5 year old) goldfish supporting sick goldfish who are having trouble swimming, and without remarking on it too much, we got into the habit of expecting the fish to let us know (by staring fixedly at us and then splashing and excited darting when we made eye contact) if something was wrong in the tank or with another fish. Then again, adult goldfish are about as intelligent as domestic rats--which is why I can't feed them to anything anymore. If we thought about everything's internal world, we'd have to stop eating altogether.
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[User Picture]From: rattuskid
2011-12-15 08:33 am (UTC)
Live feeding tends to impact the predator's health. I remember feeding an Oscar live goldfish-like little things (can't recall the name), and the tank parasites just got completely out of control. The Oscar didn't need them, was just the same off flakes and an occasional dried brine shrimp, just figured it was what you were supposed to do.

I'm actually a little curious if abstract thinking is linked to being prey, to recognize potentially dangerous situations better.
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[User Picture]From: singingnettle
2011-12-15 03:14 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right about live food being a parasite risk. I add small fish to the outdoor ponds because I have to have them for mosquito control and because the live water systems seems to need some diversity to stay healthy, and the turtles and the outdoor golds are exposed to parasites anyway. (Biggest risk there, other than raccoons trying to pry up the screening over the ponds, is parasites and bacteria from bird droppings. There are some really awful bird-borne diseases that humans can actually catch from sick fish.) But yeah, putting guppies in our indoor tanks for our big goldfish to chase sometimes brought infections into the tanks. I'll risk it for the turtles because they're not as prone to catching infections from the fish as the golds are, and they really do need whole food for both health and to alleviate boredom, but no, I don't live food to the indoor golds anymore.

Besides, I always end up becoming fond of the food and setting them up in their own tank, which is how I ended up keeping fish in the first place.
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[User Picture]From: singingnettle
2011-12-15 03:15 pm (UTC)
Erm...sorry, forgot we were talking about rats and wandered onto the topic of fish and turtles. :->
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[User Picture]From: rattuskid
2011-12-15 05:01 pm (UTC)
It's all under the same big tent, and there's only so many times a person can say "Rats are awesome", because it's just so self-evident.
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