Behavior Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 545–553 | Cite as

Behavioral comparability of wild and domesticated rats

  • Robert Boice
Evolution of Behavior


The oft-repeated concern for the lack of behavioral comparability of domestic rats with wild forms ofRattus norvegicus is unfounded. Laboratory rats appear to show the potential for all wild-type behaviors, including the most dramatic social postures. Moreover, domestics are capable of assuming a feral existence without difficulty, one where they readily behave in a fashion indistinguishable from wild rats. The one behavioral difference that is clearly established concerns performance in laboratory learning paradigms. The superiority of domestics in these laboratory tasks speaks more to quieting the concerns of degeneracy theorists than to problems of using domestic Norway rats as subjects representative of their species.

Key Words

Rattus norvegicus wild rats domestication feralization 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Boice
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbany

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