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Infanticide in Rats

Humans may find this ultimately morally wrong but with rat species, this incident is just a way of nature contributing to population control. If you have a pet rat at home, you would find this occasional disturbing and distressing scenario when they conceive their offspring. Mother rats, would kill their infants and would often eat them to death. Noticing such an event taking place is just plain appalling to the morally grounded perception of human beings. If this would ever take place in human terms, this kind of thing will be condemned by the entire society.

It then begs the question why would animals do such things, and why do rats would more often than not have this kind of complex to their younglings. Is it really just a way of nature taking control of population inflation? Or there are other factors that a feeble mind of a rat would unconsciously undertake? Does their instinct drive them to commit such a heinous act? In this article, we will try our best to answer these questions for human comprehension to the better understanding of our pet rat species. Certainly, there is a substantial grounding to these occurrences and we'll find that out.

In General

Infanticide, or the killing of younglings, is very common in many different animal species. Even humans are often guilty of such crimes of morality, however, the only difference is that we are strictly governed by moral rulings and a precedence of fear through severe sanctions implemented once there will be an infringement. To rats, infanticide is very common. Not only the real mothers, but other rats around can also be the one responsible for such a thing to happen. And what's more surprising is that they could all have different reasons for it. That would therefore mean that it's not just really about population control. While it is true that we can say infanticide is the killing of youngling, however more than half the time the act is mainly directed on the newborn ones.

Natural Selection

The theory of natural selection simply states "the survival of the fittest". This ideology best describes that scenario of the wild, wherein the weak perishes and the strong ones remain. This is also befitting to describe that event of rats committing infanticides. Mother rats, after giving birth would closely check their younglings and look for some weaklings in the litter. If they find one that has physical deformities and defects, or even just wounded ones, they would go for the kill. You may call it mercy killing as it can be a process of salvaging the poor weakling from the harsh eventualities of a world grounded in the ideologies of the natural selection theory, but to rats, this is just pure instincts. They don't give that much thought to their actions and they just do what they ought to do. Another reason to this is the allocation of resources. Mother rats instinctively are aware that the resources should be distributed to those that deserve to live or in other words, those that will really live. Unconsciously or instinctively, they know that it would be a waste of time to feed younglings that will die eventually.

Abnormal Behaviors

It can also be a reason why a certain rat would commit infanticide when the rat happens to be infected with an animal illness, worse enough to derange the mother's behavior. Sickness like this would trigger unusual wild behaviors to an animal that is infected and infanticide can be just one of the symptoms of such a disease. In this case, not only one offspring is in danger.
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