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Updated on Aug 12, 2013


What are rats really like?


  • Computer with internet access
  • Color printer
  • Digital camera
  • 1 or 2 tame pet rats
  • Typical office/craft supplies (such as paper, pens & poster-board)


The very mention of rats will make some people shudder with disgust. If you ask them why, they will often say, “It’s the tail.” Something about the rat’s hairless tail creeps people out. No one is quite sure why. And yet rats, by nature, are friendly, intelligent, harmless creatures. This project attempts to shed light on the true nature of rats.

Research Questions

  1. Why do some people hate rats?
  2. How are rats thought of in different parts of the world?
  3. What bothers people about the tail of a rat?
  4. How is the intelligence of rats measured and demonstrated?
  5. Do rats make good pets? Why or why not?
  6. Why are live rats so often used in science experiments?

Experimental Procedure

  1. Research related materials (see bibliography below)
  2. Determine and explain why people are afraid of rats.
  3. Photograph your pet rat(s)
  4. Record the interesting things your rat can do.
  5. Search, print and label photos of rats you find interesting.
  6. Identify and categorize different species of rats.
  7. List the ways in which rats are useful.
  8. Write a detailed report.
  9. Include live rats in your science fair display, along with cool rat photos.
Judee Shipman is a Bay Area Educational Consultant and professional writer of quality educational materials.  Her recent writing credits include Top50States.com (a popular and entertaining website about states), and a book called The Portable Chess Coach (Cardoza, 2006), currently available in stores.

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