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WATCH: Viral video shows ‘rodent’ taking a shower — except it isn’t

/ 05:35 PM January 30, 2018

The idea of animals not being any different from humans seems like a meat-eating speciesist’s fever dream, but if there’s one thing the Pixar film “Ratatouille” taught us is that a little compassion goes a long way, and may even return tenfold in the form of a rat whose cooking puts every food critic in Paris to shame. 

And if the grand idea that rats can cook can be entertained, then perhaps a rat taking a human-like shower isn’t any different. The latest “rodent” viral sensation hails from Peru and it is unknowing in its fame; a creature, identified as a pacarana in a report by Newsweek, was captured on video taking a shower and scrubbing its underarms and body with soap, just like how humans do. A pacarana is a hystricognath rodent from South America.

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The video racked up millions of views and was met with adoration and awe by viewers worldwide. But while the video may be cute and entertaining, Tuomas Aivelo, an urban rat biology researcher from the University of Helsinki in Finland, believed the video is not what it seems to be. 

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“The movements are pretty strange,” Aivelo told Gizmodo yesterday, Jan. 29. “A rat wouldn’t do that unless there’s something it really wants to get rid of. It just wants to get rid of the soap.”

Aivelo surmised that someone must’ve poured soap on the creature and it was just trying to get it off. When asked if the rodent could be in pain, Aivelo said, “It’s totally possible.”

Rodents are known to be fastidious creatures when it comes to cleanliness, grooming themselves multiple times a day just like cats. But rodents do not groom themselves with soap, nor do they “take showers.”  Instead, their natural grooming behavior involves the use of their teeth and paws to scrub and lick their fur, far different from the rodent’s behavior in the viral video. 

Dr. Jason Munshi-South, a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences in Fordham University, also reckoned that someone must have put soap on the rodent.

“Not much to say about this. The whole pizza rat/selfie rat/Zardulu nonsense makes me very skeptical of any of these viral videos,” said Dr. Munshi-South told Gizmodo. “My guess is that someone soaped up that rat and it is trying to groom itself or it has been trained to act this way.” Cody Cepeda/JB

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TAGS: rats, rodent, Social Media, Video, Viral
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