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My rat, Pepper, loves to play on my desk while I tidy up his cage each morning. His favorite "toys" are my little stacks of "post-it notes". He grabs each little stack and tries to take it into his bed (usually gets stuck or drops it and forgets it). Today though, he deliberately brought each little stack of "post-it notes" over to me and laid them on top of my hand. It was adorable and left me wondering if he was giving me gifts? Any ideas? Are rats that generous? Whatever he was doing, it was totally adorable.
 

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Over the years, on occasion I suppose our rats brought me stuff, but for the most part, my working theory is that rats don't get gifting...

I give them treats and stuff they like and they scamper off with it like the the hounds of he** were on their tails... Or rather like they just robbed Fort Knox. My working theory is that they get stealing rather than gifting so when I give them a tasty treat, they just figure I was too slow or stupid to hang on to it myself... as they make their great getaway.

But working theory aside rats are very clever, so just because gifting may not be part of their inherent understanding if it gets them something they want... I'm sure they will learn to do it... Experience tells me that when our girls are exceptionally nice, I either smell like a snickers bar, or they murdered one of my orchids and are trying to distract me from following the trail of wood chips they left on the floor...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Over the years, on occasion I suppose our rats brought me stuff, but for the most part, my working theory is that rats don't get gifting...

I give them treats and stuff they like and they scamper off with it like the the hounds of he** were on their tails... Or rather like they just robbed Fort Knox. My working theory is that they get stealing rather than gifting so when I give them a tasty treat, they just figure I was too slow or stupid to hang on to it myself... as they make their great getaway.

But working theory aside rats are very clever, so just because gifting may not be part of their inherent understanding if it gets them something they want... I'm sure they will learn to do it... Experience tells me that when our girls are exceptionally nice, I either smell like a snickers bar, or they murdered one of my orchids and are trying to distract me from following the trail of wood chips they left on the floor...
LOL Had to laugh over your description of the murdered orchids, Rat Daddy. *grins* Your rats sound quite mischievous. I'm still baffled over Pepper's behavior. I don't give him anything in return for bringing me the post-it notes. In fact, at 5:30 AM I'm so sleepy that I just sort of sit there at the desk and try to stay awake for a few minutes so he can have a run. I barely interact with him, simply because I'm barely awake. I just tidy the cage and then sit down to watch him scamper around. He came up with giving me post-its all on his own and he continues to do it. Some of the post-its end up in his bed, but he always makes sure to bring me one. *shrugs* I have no idea what he's up to. He is from the Humane Society and over the years I've seen some really amazing behavior from rescued animals (mostly dogs) who show their appreciation for being rescued. In any case, Pepper's daily adventure with the post-it notes is adorable.
 

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You know in retrospect I do recall one rat bringing me her little food dish... but that didn't strike me as much of a gift. Rats do carry stuff around for reasons, one of my rats steals stuff so I chase her or play tug of war.... Pepper is definitely giving you notes to communicate with you, but I don't know what the message is... Maybe it's his way of getting you to interact with him...

I don't think gifting is beyond a rats intelligence level, but I've never seen it done between rats. The closest story I can relate to gifting was several years ago when I decided to hide treats around the floor for Fuzzy Rat and Amelia. Fuzzy Rat sat on the stairs and watched as I hid each treat around the floor. Then she went after them in the exact order that I hid them and devoured each one on the spot leaving nothing behind for Amelia. So I decided to repeat the game, this time by hiding some of the treats in higher places that Fuzzy Rat couldn't reach. This time Fuzzy Rat watched as Amelia climbed and brought the treats down and hid them under the radiator. As soon as Amelia would leave the treat under the radiator and go off to recover another treat, Fuzzy Rat would scurry under the radiator and steal the treat and eat it and then scurry away until Amelia brought another treat down to hide under the radiator. After Amelia had successfully found each and every treat she went under the radiator to check on her booty, only to find that there was nothing left for her. So, in some strange way I suppose Amelia was gifting all of her hard-earned treats to Fuzzy Rat. But, in retrospect I think she was just being outsmarted by one of the smartest and sneakiest rats I've ever known. I think it really just came down to a matter of stealing or rather involuntary giving than gifting as we would understand it.
 
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