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Have you ever noticed that for all their partisan bluster politicians are loath to do anything substantive to harm each other or interfere in schemes not directly involving them? Why is this? Science may have the answer.

IT MIGHT BE time to reconsider what it means to call someone a “rat.”

Previous research has shown the much-maligned rodents assist comrades in need, as well as remember individual rats that have helped them—and return the favor.

Now, a new study builds on this evidence of empathy, revealing that domestic rats will avoid harming other rats.

In the study, published March 5 in the journal Current Biology, rats were trained to pull levers to get a tasty sugar pellet. If the lever delivered a mild shock to a neighbor, several of the rats stopped pulling that lever and switched to another.

“Tasty sugar pellet” – the pizza parties we’ve all heard about- Oh, wait. They’re talking about literal Rodentia Rattus… Well, I’m sure the general principles are the same.