Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Smart, Curious, Ticklish. Rats?

From the New York Times (illustration too)

Rats can learn to crave the same drugs that we do — alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, amphetamine — and they, like us, will sometimes indulge themselves to death. They’re sociable, curious and love to be touched — nicely, that is. If a rat has been trained to associate a certain sound with a mild shock to its tail, and the bell tolls but the shock doesn’t come, the rat will inhale deeply with what can only be called a sigh of relief.
When it comes to sex, the analogies between rats and humans are “profound,” said James G. Pfaus of Concordia University in Montreal. “It’s not simply instinctual for them,” he said. “Rats know what good sex is and what bad sex is. And when they have reason to anticipate great sex, they give you every indication they’re looking forward to it.”