American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2005 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Beginners’ Corner

Rat Maze/Rat Vision; Color Blind Rodents
Rat Vision
Rat Maze/Rat Vision

Jeff Yourston, e-mail
Q I cannot find anything anywhere on this topic. My son has a science project to do for school and he has chosen to do a rat maze. I think it is a fine idea, but I have no idea where I could find info on building a maze or buying one. Also, do rats see in color or black and white? I think that could be a vital part of the experiment. If you have any info on anything that might be of help to me that would be great. Thanks for your time.

A Rats and mice do not see in color, only black and white. It is their sense of smell that is most important. The maze can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it. You might get ideas from puzzle mazes as to the type you would like to build. The maze can be constructed from cardboard, wood, clear pipes/tubing, or acrylic sheets cut to size. There is a web site that has ideas as to what to use in your maze as well as tips on how to train the rat. You can also find links on the Whole Mouse Catalog site for Science Fair Projects. You can also put in “rat maze” in your search engine to search for Internet sites on this topic. Karen Robbins

Color Blind Rodents

Luke Reeves, New Zealand, e-mail
Q My Name is Luke, and I’m from New Zealand. I’m doing some research on rats, rodents, and mice. I was wondering what colour rats and mice are attracted too?

A Rodents do not have the receptors in their eyes required to see color. Rather, they see in varying shades of gray as in a black and white photograph. This makes their world much less confusing and easier for a small brain to pick out movement, a vital skill for a creature on the bottom of the food chain. “If it is not my species and it moves, it will eat me.” What rodents use to find food and to differentiate family members from intruders, is a keen sense of smell. It may be possible to train a rat or mouse to recognize a certain color such as cheese yellow (perceived as a particular shade of gray) as always associated with food. However, if that shade varied even slightly (from dull to bright, dark to light, yellow to more orange) the animal would perceive it as a totally different color. To us, cheese yellow is cheese yellow, even if one batch is a little more orange than the last. But to a color blind little creature, it becomes yet a another shade in a kaleidoscope of gray. Helen Pembrook *

Updated March 10, 2014