Did you know that rats have personalities?

My rats: Tokyo and Stripe

It’s evening.

My pet rats are waking up. Well, one of them is. Tokyo has left the sleeping place and scanned the cage for new food. Now she is standing on one of the wooden bridges in the cage and is looking in my direction. Stripe is still sleeping when I approach and open the cage. While Tokyo is happy to run up my arm, Stripe opens her eyes and slowly stretches. If I left, she would go back to sleep. But I wait and she gets up, stretches and yawns some more. At last, she approaches the door, sticks her head out and sniffs my hand. But then she retreats to the cage and grooms for a bit. Encouraging words and my presence make her repeat this pattern a couple of times and at last, she leaves the cage. In the meantime, Tokyo got bored with running up and down my sleeves and is trying to get on top of the cage.

Tokyo and Stripe are two sisters from the same litter. But like most human siblings they differ in their personality and likes and dislikes. Tokyo is more of an extrovert. She is more energetic and likes contact with people. She is happy to leave her cage and climb my arms or even better get under a jumper or into a sleeve. Because she likes contact with humans, she also learns tricks easier. She seems more intelligent, but that may be my human bias.

Stripe is more of an introvert. Getting out of the cage and onto my arm usually takes long, even if she is not sleepy. And she likes sleeping. But she is much braver than Tokyo in exploring new places. And of course, they also have their food preferences, for example Tokyo prefers basil over coriander and Stripe the reverse.

Whoever had cats and dogs may not be surprised that rats also have personalities. But many other animals do as well, even fish, bees or woodlice.

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