TLDR: Laboratory rats, also known as lab rats, are a special type of rat that is bred and kept for scientific research. They have been used in a variety of fields, including psychology and biomedical science. These rats have played a crucial role in many important experiments and have helped scientists learn more about the human body and behavior.
Laboratory rats have a fascinating history. In the 18th century, wild brown rats were a big problem in Europe, and people made money by catching and selling them. They even used them for a popular sport called rat-baiting, where rats were put in a pit and timed to see how long it took for a dog to kill them all. Over time, breeding these rats for the sport led to variations in color, including the albino and hooded varieties.
The use of rats in scientific research began in the early 19th century when an albino rat was brought into a laboratory for an experiment on fasting. Since then, rats have been used in various experiments, including studies on learning, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, and cancer research. They have also been used to study the effects of drugs and diseases on the body.
Rats are popular in research because they are easy to handle and breed, and their biology is similar to humans in many ways. They have been bred into different strains or lines specifically for experimentation. Some common strains include the Wistar rat, Sprague Dawley rat, and Long-Evans rat. These strains have different characteristics and are used for different types of research.
In recent years, scientists have made significant advancements in genetic research using rats. They have been able to create knockout rats, which are rats with specific genes turned off. These knockout rats are valuable tools for studying gene function and for drug discovery and development.
Overall, laboratory rats have played a crucial role in scientific research and have helped scientists make important discoveries. They continue to be an important model organism for studying various aspects of human biology and behavior.