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Smart rats join tool-user club

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 01:10

Rats have been filmed using tools to retrieve food in a Japanese laboratory. As Nathan Frandino explains, it's the first time rodents have been shown demonstrating tool use.

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STORY: These furry friends - scurrying about here in New York's Central Park - may be smarter than they look. A new study published in Animal Cognition found that rats can use tools. Researchers at Doshisha University in Kyoto trained eight rats to pull small hooks in order to obtain pieces of chocolate cereal. Once this sliding door is lifted, the rodent is offered the choice of two tools to hook a sweet snack. In this test cereal was placed within one hook's curve - the other tool had the treat placed just outside. Researchers found the rat pulled the right hook 95 percent of the time. The rats also managed to use rake-shaped tools, but had trouble once transparent blades were used. Scientists say the experiments show rats can understand spatial arrangement between food and tools, but also reveal possible weaknesses in their eyesight. Rats join a small band of tool-using animals, such as chimpanzees and New Caledonian crows.

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Smart rats join tool-user club

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 01:10