Despite being historically associated with disease and destruction, rats have played a significant role in human civilisation, Linné writes. They have adapted to human habitats, sharing our homes with us and even coming along when we colonised new territories.
Studies show that rats exhibit empathy, displaying emotional contagion and selflessness, such as releasing distressed peers from cages. Recent research indicates rats possess cognitive abilities like imagination, suggesting a sense of past and future.
Instead of ineffective and unethical rat control methods, such as poisoning, Linné suggests managing our waste disposal to decrease their numbers. A better understanding of rat behaviour would reduce conflicts with these social and empathetic animals and ensure a safer, healthier future for rats and humans.