As described by Science Daily, “After several daily restraint sessions, the free rat learned how to open the restrainer door and free its cagemate. Though slow to act at first, once the rat discovered the ability to free its companion, it would take action almost immediately upon placement in the test arena.”
“We are not training these rats in any way,” one of the designers of the experiment explained. “These rats are learning because they are motivated by something internal. We’re not showing them how to open the door, they don’t get any previous exposure on opening the door, and it’s hard to open the door. But they keep trying and trying, and it eventually works.”
Further variations on the experiment appeared to confirm that the rats were acting out of pure empathy. For example, they would not bother to open the door when a toy rat was placed in the tube. However, they would open it even if it released their companion into a separate area, meaning they were not just looking for company.
And not only that, but when the rats were offered two tubes — one of which contained their companion and the other a pile of chocolate chips — they were as likely to free the other rat first as they were to start by gobbling all the chocolate. There were also cases in which the rat retrieved the chocolate chips first but didn’t eat them until after freeing the other and sharing the chocolate with them.Read the post and watch video at Raw Story
Study shows lab rats would rather free a friend than eat chocolate
by Muriel Kane
Are rats a step ahead of Ayn Rand and Randites on the evolutionary scale?