We know are Meerschweinchen, just by being around them. The knowing looks they give us, the way they solve simple problems and work out how to cause even more mischief. Here is some more info on what we already knew. Our Rats Are Smart!
Rats pick up new behaviors and tricks very quickly. They try hard to please their owners and you may be surprised how much your rat can learn. In the wild, rats, like humans are survivors and generalists. They have to cope with every eventuality that nature throws at them. They learn to raid human food and stores and avoid being caught.
Rats have been trained to press a button for food. If they are given food, every fourth time they press the button, they will quickly press it four times to get the food. They can also learn to turn a light on and off, with no reward. They will simply do it as they like the change. They also like to feel they have power over these things. Rats have amazing senses of smell and hearing and have been trained to sniff out land mines and bombs, in the place of dogs.
Rats are also very good at mazes. It is actually quite fun to make up a maze for your ratty and put their favorite treat at the end. The first time it may take a while for them to get to the treat, but the next time you will see they are much faster.
In one incident a rat was placed in an eight arm maze, with a treat at the end of each arm. The rat learnt how to empty the maze, without going down the same arm twice. It didn’t follow a set pattern, so it’s route could not be predicted. Someone suggested that the rat was leaving a scent mark at each tunnel entrance it had been down, so that it would know not to go down that one again. However, further tests eliminated this possibility. They then turned the maze around and the rat became disoriented. It turned out that the rat had used visual markers to remember what arms of the maze it had already been down. Some arms were near a window, or a light. This showed that the rat could picture the maze and the location of the tunnels it had been down. It then reflected on this experience and could find food with minimum effort.
Rats are incredibly social creatures, who have very complex relationships with other rats. As you probably know, they can have a very strong bond with people too. In the wild and in horrible labs, rats can die from social stress. Their relationships are so important to them that there have been report of rats dying from heart break after their partner has died.
Shy rats have been proven to die younger than their more confident peers. It is important to be patient with him, if you have a shy ratty. If you are gentle and quiet and consistent in your efforts you may have a breakthrough.
Yes, rats do dream. Have you ever seen your little ratty twitching a little in his sleep? Or even squeaking? Well, it has been proven that rats dream, in very much the same way as humans. They dream about what they have done that day and you may see them moving as they dream.