Rats Choose to Save Their Friends Over Eating Chocolate in Study, Proving That Everybody Should Get a Pet Rat

People have long debated whether humans are naturally altruistic or selfish — just go around the table at your next dinner party and ask your guests whether they think people are naturally good or bad and see what responses you get. While the jury may still be out on whether or not humans are inclined to be selfish, researchers have discovered that rats are not. A recent study revealed that rats are capable of empathy and more often than not, choose to help their friends over helping themselves. Maybe we should stop calling snitches rats because it turns out rats are actually not that bad. Just a thought.

For some unknown reason, scientists decided to conduct an experiment to find out if rats are capable of feeling empathy. They put two rats in a plastic box separated by a divider, with a door that could open the divider. On one side of the divider, one rat was placed in a pool of water and on the other side, another rat was chilling on dry land. Rats really don't like to swim, and the dry rat had the ability to rescue his little rat buddy by opening the door on the divider and letting his friend come over to the dry side.

The researchers found that in nine out of 10 trials, the rats would help out their friends. The one other time, the rat said the other guy was kind of annoying, anyway. Kidding, obviously. So then the researchers decided to spice things up, and added another room containing a piece of chocolate, so that the dry rats were surrounded by a room with their drowning friend on one side, and a room with chocolate on the other side.

Delicious chocolate, or saving your friend? What a dilemma. I'm glad I wasn't considered for this study. And if like me, you're thinking to yourself, "Pshhh, you'd have to be a really good friend to come between me and my chocolate," well, you just got shown up by a bunch of rats. Even with the chocolate in the equation, the dry rats still saved their drowning pals a majority of the time.

Researchers say these findings suggest that rats could be capable of feeling empathy. It looks like rats have now officially joined the ranks of elephants, chickens, and dogs, all animals that feel empathy. Wow, I think these findings have made me like people even less now.

To get a clearer picture of how the study worked, and to watch rats being adorable, peep the full video below.

Images: Giphy (2)