Genetically Engineered Rats: 10 Percent Rabbit, 100 Percent Cute
Sticking up for rats—who are sensitive, intelligent, and nurturing—has always been high on our agenda, although not everyone understands that these dear little mammals are worth caring about … yet.
There is hope, however. For the last 14 months, we’ve been funding two scientists at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) who are formulating a hybrid species that will make rats less despised. You may remember when we lodged a complaint against the INRA for the glow-in-the-dark rabbit, but sometimes good things come from bad. The rabbit genome is nearly identical to that of the rat, and we have found a way to put this science and experience to good use. Using the same zygote microinjection process (to which we still object!) that was used to create the glow-in-the-dark rabbit, these geneticists can isolate the gene that’s responsible for bunnies’ cotton-ball tails and then insert it into fertilized rat egg cells. The results are truly phenomenal, producing a genetically engineered rat whom no one will want to harm:
“People are almost certain to be kinder to a tiny mammal with a powder-puff tail,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Not only would this pay off in cities that kill these animals with gut-wrenching poisons, it would also make it harder for lab assistants to force-feed toxic chemicals to them or for homeowners to watch them struggle in cruel glue traps.”
Rats with a dominant gene for bunny tails can easily be released to breed with wild rodents in New York and other major cities, creating a “rat pack” whose charms no one will be able to resist.
Written by Logan Scherer