The long-tailed rodents originated in the Asian steppes, following messy humans’ migration to Europe and the New World. In the past decade, urban rat populations have risen as much as 15 to 20 percent, and their sometimes deserved rep for being sneaky and filthy has made them a target for a host of extermination methods.
Is there anything good about rats? They’re smart. In one study, members of genus Rattus demonstrated empathy, uncaging other rats — even when they had nothing to gain.
Read this OZY profile on the geneticist creating gene-edited animals for our plates.