Connect with us

Tech

Hide and squeak: Rats ‘jump for joy’ while playing game

You have likely never experienced excitement so pure as when a rat tracks down its target in a game of hide and seek.

Scientists in Germany have spent weeks playing games with a group of rodents, taking cover behind obstacles and encouraging them to unleash their inner Basil the Great Mouse Detective.

Believe it or not, the rats have proven to be extremely capable at finding the hidden humans – and their successes have seen them literally jumping for joy.

Image: Scientists say rats are very intelligent. File pic

The adolescent males were taught to start each game in a closed box, which was opened remotely.

From there, they quickly developed various strategies for finding the human players – including re-visiting spots they had been during previous rounds.

Advertisement

When it came to being sought, the rats were just as clever – they learned to take cover in opaque boxes spread across the room, rather than transparent ones.

Each victory was greeted with "positive social interaction" rather any food treats, and the rats still got a real kick out if it, from leaping into the air to letting out ultrasonic giggles that signifies happiness.

More from Science & Tech

  • YouTuber PewDiePie changes his mind about $50,000 donation to anti-hate group

  • Groundbreaking trial aims to reduce miscarriages by 50%

  • Billy Mitchell: Former Donkey Kong world record holder threatens to sue Guinness

  • Ig Nobel Prizes: Nappy-changing tech leads the way at spoof ceremony

  • 5G provides breakthrough for driverless car tests

  • UK maritime sector commits to government's 2050 climate target

Konstantin Hartmann, from the Humboldt University of Berlin, co-wrote the study for the journal Science and said the results showed just how intelligent rats could be.

He told AFP: "When you work a lot with rats over the years, you see how intelligent these animals are and how social, but it was still very surprising to us to see how well they did."

The rats were seen running around the store. Credit: Twitter: @y___ruki
Rats take over Tokyo convenience store

The critters enjoyed playing so much that they often did not want to fun to end – sometimes scurrying away to hide at a new location and repeating it several times to indicate that they wanted to continue.

Dr Hartmann said it showed the rodents enjoyed playing for the sake of play itself – but also addressed any potential ethical concerns over the study.

Microwires were attached to the heads of each rat during the game to record their brain activity, allowing them to identify how individual neurons responded to specific events.

He said it could be useful for a future study on how brain development is affected if playtime is restricted during adolescence, both for animals and potentially for humans.

3D printing helps heal spinal cord injuries in rats

3D printing helps heal spinal cord injuries in rats

Scientists have developed a technique using 3D printing to build the scaffolding around which stem cells can be implanted

He added: "I think, being aware of the cognitive abilities of an animal is really important.

"This type of research will also help other scientists to see in rats more than what you usually see when you just get the rat and use it for standard experiments, when you're not aware of what these animals can do."

Continue Reading




Subscribe

Trending