Rescue rats learn to drive tiny cars built just for them

A family in British Columbia is taking the phrase "rat race" literally. Inspired by a University of Richmond study (previously at Boing Boing) that found teaching rats to drive tiny cars decreased the critter's stress hormones, they gave their two male rescue rats, Kuzko and Kronk, their own wheels and driving lessons.

The rats' grandfather, who is mechanically inclined, took on the task of building two miniature vehicles for Kuzko and Kronk. By pressing the pedals, the rats can control the vehicle. Middle pedal moves it forward, the left pedal makes it turn left, and the right makes it go right. Rats are smart and you'll see in the videos that they are really getting the hang of it. [via Nag on the Lake]

It really didn't take Kuzko and Kronk long to experiment with their new hot rods. At first we rewarded them for any interaction with the buttons. 🙌 Then, as they began to make associations with what each button did, we slowly increased the threshold of accuracy required before they got their treat. Eventually, they came to understand their task was to manoeuvre the car so that the portholes in the windshield aligned with wherever we held a delicious rice puff. 🧭

After only a couple months of 5-10 minute lessons each day, we've been blown away by how skilled Kuzko and Kronk have become at accurately turning and accelerating their cars! True to the study, they do seem to enjoy their nightly practice. We removed the back doors a while ago to give them full autonomy, and now when the cars come out the rats are quick to jump in on their own and hit the gas! 🤠