Sioux Falls Zoologists

"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!"

The mirror test is an experiment developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. to determine whether an animal possesses the ability to recognize itself in a mirror. It is the primary indicator of self-awareness in non-human animals and marks entrance to the mirror stage by human children in developmental psychology. Animals that pass mirror test are: Humans older than 18 mo, Chimpanzees, Bonobos, Orangutans, Gorillas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Orcas (Killer Whales), Elephants, and European Magpies. Others showing signs of self-awareness are Pigs, some Gibbons, Rhesus Macaques, Capuchin Monkeys, some Corvids (Crows & Ravens) and Pigeons w/training. (Sorry Kitty!)

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Oh, Rats! for giving us the history
of rats and people living together in the same space.

Oh, Rats!
The Story Of Rats And People
By Albert Marrin and C.B. Mordan

Oh, Rats! (2006) - 48 pages
Oh, Rats! at

They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles.

Revolting - Revealing - Riveting
Brown Rats, Sewer Rats, Alley and House Rats.
Black Rats, Ship Rats, Wharf and Roof Rats.

Dirty rats, fancy rats, yummy rats.

Civilization is dawning. Even then, the wily rat is unstoppable, devouring our food and earning the wrath of hungry men.

So the story of rats and people begins.

Like humans, determined rats conquered the world, prowling the ships of European explorers, riding the caravans of eastern traders, traveling to every corner of the globe, spreading disease as they went. But above all else, rats multiplied. Today, from city alleys to country barns…we are surrounded by the rat.

Able to claw up brick walls, squeeze through small pipes, and gnaw through iron and concrete, the rat is a marvel of nature. Dismissed and reviled as dirty pests or embraced as loyal, beloved pets, rats have also served as delicacies on our dinner plates, been the key to medical breakthroughs, and proven useful tools of war.

Weaving science, history, culture, and folklore, Albert Marrin welcomes you to the fearsome, fascinating world of these astonishing champions of survival - RATS.

Albert Marrin, Professor Emeritus of History at Yeshiva University in New York City, began his teaching career as a social studies teacher in a public junior high school, where he welcomed the challenge of making history come alive for his students. He continues to meet this challenge as a writer. The author of over two dozen award-winning nonfiction books for young people, Albert Marrin received the Washington Children's Book Guide and Washington Post Non-Fiction Award for an "outstanding lifetime contribution [that] has enriched the field of children's literature."

Rats scurried around the neighborhood of Albert's childhood home in Baltimore. He was scared of them, but gradually, as he learned more about rats, the boy lost his fear-mostly. When he saw one recently, the grown-up Dr. Marrin still got the heebie-jeebies. He lives with his wife, Yvette, in Riverdale, New York.

C.B. Mordan is an illustrator of the recent picture book Silent Movie, by Avi, as well as Lost! A Story in String, by Paul Fleischman; Orphan Journey Home, by Liza Ketchum; and F Is for Freedom, by Roni Schotter. Mr. Mordan lives near Kansas City, Missouri.

7-9-20 Rats will help others in distress, but they can be influenced not to
Rats will often help their fellows if they are in distress, but they can be influenced not to – if other rats seem uninterested in the situation. This so-called bystander effect has been studied in humans for 50 years. That it also exists in rats suggests it has deep evolutionary roots. However, the bystander effect doesn’t mean what many people have understood it to: that a person in distress is unlikely to receive help. The opposite is true. Research into the bystander effect was prompted by the 1964 murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in New York City. A New York Times article claimed that 38 witnesses saw the killing unfold for over 30 minutes but didn’t help or raise the alarm. It was a shocking story, though it later emerged that most did not see enough to know what was happening. Psychologists soon found laboratory evidence that people were less likely to help if they were part of a crowd than if they were alone, says Peggy Mason at the University of Chicago in Illinois. But this had to be done in an artificial way using “confederates” – researchers instructed not to help. Mason’s team has now shown the same effect in rats. The team trapped one rat in a plastic tube that could only be opened from the outside by a second rat. Lone rats are quick and eager to help. “The only reason the rat does this is because it feels good,” says Mason. “We’re not giving any food.” This changed when additional rats were introduced. These “confederate” rats had been given midazolam, which reduced their emotional response to the trapped rat, so they didn’t try to help. Now the original rat became less likely to assist. This was the bystander effect in action. However, the team also performed a twist on the experiment, by introducing additional rats that weren’t drugged, but which hadn’t seen the tube before. These naive rats made the experienced rats more likely to help. “If you’re alone, it feels dicey to go in and intervene,” says Mason. “But if there’s three of you, that’s mitigated.”

4-8-20 Coronavirus: Why more rats are being spotted during quarantine
The closure of restaurants and the retreat by humans indoors is having an effect on the eating habits and behaviour of rats, say experts. Late last month, the French Quarter in New Orleans had new swarms of visitors wandering its famous streets. Not long after the coronavirus closed bars and restaurants in the Louisiana city, rats were coming out of hiding. That more rodents were being spotted comes as no surprise to renowned urban rodentologist Robert Corrigan. "When you have a colony of rats on a block that has been depending on tourists littering and lots of trash put out at night - it could be DC, it could be New York - anyplace where rats have been depending the easy handouts, and that disappears, then they don't know what to do," he says. As Claudia Riegel, with the New Orleans pest control board, told journalists: "These rats are hungry." Humans around the world are changing their behaviours due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. In some places, quarantine means rubbish that rats depend on is no longer available, and so they also adapt. Dr Corrigan, who has an office in Lower Manhattan, says he's had messages from friends in the city who have seen rats in new areas and at odd hours for the usually nocturnal animals. Others haven't seen any change in their local rat habits. Those colonies might feed on household waste, of which there is still plenty, and not restaurant rubbish. In the UK, the National Pest Technicians Association warned this month that "the closure of schools, pubs, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and other public places to enforce social distancing will have unintended consequences". If there is food available, pest populations could thrive in empty buildings and become emboldened by the absence of people - or pests will go out in search of food, it said.

10-22-19 Scientists have trained rats to drive tiny cars to collect food
Rats have mastered the art of driving a tiny car, suggesting their brains are more flexible than we thought. The finding could be used to understand how learning new skills relieves stress and how neurological and psychiatric conditions affect mental capabilities. We know that rodents can learn to recognise objects, press bars and find their way around mazes. These tests are often used to study how brain conditions affect cognitive function, but they only capture a narrow window of animal cognition, says Kelly Lambert at the University of Richmond. Lambert and her colleagues wondered if rats could learn the more sophisticated task of operating a moving vehicle. They constructed a tiny car out of a clear plastic food container on wheels, with an aluminium floor and three copper bars functioning as a steering wheel. When a rat stood on the aluminium floor and gripped the copper bars with their paws, they completed an electrical circuit that propelled the car forward. Touching the left, centre or right bar steered them in different directions. Six female and 11 male rats were trained to drive the car in rectangular arenas up to 4 square metres in size. This involved rewarding them with Froot Loop cereal pieces when they touched the steering bars and drove the car forward. The rats were encouraged to advance their driving skills by placing the food rewards at increasingly distant points around the arena. “They learned to navigate the car in unique ways and engaged in steering patterns they had never used to eventually arrive at the reward,” says Lambert. Learning to drive seemed to relax the rats. The researchers assessed this by measuring levels of two hormones: cortisol, a marker of stress, and dehydroepiandrosterone, which counteracts stress. The ratio of dehydroepiandrosterone to cortisol in the rats’ faeces increased over the course of their driving training.

4-19-19 Homeless Australian man reunited with lost rat pet by police
A homeless man in Sydney, Australia, has been reunited with his pet rat which disappeared earlier this month. Chris, 59, is a well known figure in downtown Sydney where the rat, called Lucy, is usually curled up on a box in front of him. But one day his little companion disappeared as he stepped away to take a toilet break. After a social media appeal, New South Wales police tracked down the missing pet and reunited the pair on Thursday. Chris had assumed Lucy was stolen after she disappeared from the milk crate where he'd left her. Desperate to find her, he put a note up on his box, asking if anyone had seen her. What followed was an outpouring of support, with people posting their own pictures of the pair, hoping that someone had seen Lucy or the person who'd taken her. Police appealed for information, believing Lucy had been stolen, but eventually found the missing rodent. "A woman, who walked past and saw Lucy alone, believed she had been abandoned, so took her home and cared for her," police said in a statement. Lucy was returned to Chris at a local police station on Thursday. When officers asked him to make sure they had got the right animal he replied: "Yes, that's her! She's got the blind eye. She remembers me!" Picking her up from a cardboard box, Chris was visibly relieved, thanking the officers for their efforts. "Sorry for putting you all through the trouble of looking for her. "It feels wonderful. Thank you very much, everybody," he said as his little furry friend scurried around his shoulders. "She knows she's missed me too."

Oh, Rats!
The Story Of Rats And People
By Albert Marrin and C.B. Mordan

Sioux Falls Zoologists endorse Oh, Rats! for giving us the history
of rats and people living together in the same space.