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September 30, 2015

Reasons to Be Nice to Rats and Mice

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Look at those whiskers! Paul Reeves Photography

  • Tiny ears and paws! Jean-Jacques Boujot

  • Just trying to make a living. Jean-Jacques Boujot

Rats and mice have the same basic needs as all animals — food, warmth and shelter. These needs often bring them into close proximity with humans and, as a result, they are demonised as 'pests'. But in reality, they do not set out deliberately to frighten or cause us problems. Here are some facts that we hope will make you see rats and mice in a new light:

  • Rats have been found to act selflessly to save each other from harm, forsaking food in order to free a trapped mate or save another from drowning.
  • They enjoy being tickled! When they are happy or playing, they let out a sound that is similar to laughter, consisting of high-frequency chirps that are beyond the range of human hearing.
  • Rats are very social animals. They groom each other and sleep together. They suffer from boredom and loneliness when solitary.
  • Domestic rats enjoy human company and can form deep bonds with their person but giving them companionship of their own kind is a better way of ensuring they are happy and healthy.
  • It is an urban myth that you are never more than six feet away from a rat. But even if one is close by, there is no need to panic! Although very curious, rats are also shy, preferring to run away rather than confront a potential threat.
  • Alongside bats, whales and humans, mice are one of the few mammals that sing. Male mice court females by serenading them with their own ‘mouse song’ and have been recorded after mating singing like birds but at ultrasonic frequencies.
  • Mice are gregarious and social animals who form a complex organisation within their group and find isolation incredibly stressful. Removing even one individual can cause upset that affects the welfare of the whole colony.
  • They are inquisitive and adventurous and spend the day roaming their territory, exploring anything new or out of the ordinary. But they tend to stay close to home, only venturing 3-8m from their nest. • Small in size but big in appetite, mice eat around 15 to 20 times per day, but in tiny amounts at a time. This is why they build their homes near places that have readily accessible food sources… such as kitchens.
  • Within their intricate underground homes, mice are incredibly clean, tidy and organised. They have specific areas for sleeping, storing food, and going to the toilet.

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