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Porky & Buddy: Rats Who Share

Dear Readers,

Full disclosure here. It’s a cat eat rat world. But that doesn’t mean that rats aren’t interesting creatures—both delicious and interesting. We were listening to NPR this morning. (Yes we were pretending to be napping but actually listening to NPR. All pets do. We love NPR. In fact, right after you write out your holiday donation to the Humane Society, you should write out another one to WRVO. Your pets will love you twice as much.) But back to the rats. In a recent study published in the journal Science, a scientist placed two rats who had been “cage mates” in a plastic observation chamber. But one of the rats was enclosed in a narrow tube that he could not get out of. He could breathe and all that but he was not happy. Think “cat” scan tube! The other rat, who could hear his buddy’s ultrasonic screams, immediately got to work to try to help him. He bit at the tube, pulled on his tail, stood on the tube, knocked it around and eventually found the release that would open the tube. All the rats in the study would do that over and over for their fellow rats, (but not for stuffed rats).

And here is where it gets interesting. It turns out that rats love chocolate chips. Doesn’t everybody? So the scientists put a tube containing chocolate chips in the observation chamber along with the tube containing a buddy rat. Now if you were in a similar position, wouldn’t you be tempted to open the chocolate chip tube first, eat them, and then spring your buddy? You are after all a “rat.” Not so fast. In every instance the subject rat opened both tubes first and shared the chips with his buddy. What was the point of this research? Pretty simple, we think. If rats always help out their friends and share their chocolate chips, then so should you. So Happy Holidays and our best wishes for a lot of friends, both human and non-human, and a lot of chocolate chips for everybody (except Buddy, dogs can’t have chocolate.)

And speaking of friends of the non-human type and chocolate chip cookies, come to the Home 4 the Holidays Tail Sale and Bake Sale, Saturday, December 17th, from 11 to 2 at the YMCA/Armory. Adoption fees for all cats and kittens older than 4 months will be 50% off and there will be cookies and holiday treats galore. Coffee and juice and treats for kids. You are always welcome to just come and admire all of our interesting and fun pets.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets. Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.