Years ago, I had a wonderful companion animal named Angus. He was a remarkable little fellow who loved to greet visitors to my house and snuggle next to me on the sofa. His favorite food was Chinese carry-out, and he went bonkers when he saw the white cardboard containers come out of the plastic bag on the kitchen table. He was loyal and sweet-tempered—probably not so different from your own dog or cat.
Except that Angus wasn’t a dog or cat. He was a rat.
A brown rat with shiny black eyes and a long pink tail. He lived on a table-top in my home, where he never had to be shut in his cage. He liked to cruise around the house perched on my shoulder.
So it was with particular interest that I read the just-released study on rats, which found that rats can be trained to use tools, to understand the tools’ functions and to choose the most appropriate tool when presented with more than one. Before this, the study says, it was thought that only primates and some birds, in addition to humans, were capable of figuring this out.