Although humans have the ability to recognize themselves in a mirror, rats have yet to demonstrate this ability. However, some other species have demonstrated similar behavior. For example, certain cetaceans and great apes have been shown to be able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Because this ability is considered a vital part of consciousness, this finding is interesting.
Although the results of this study suggest that rodents are able to recognize themselves in a mirror, the results of previous studies are not clear. In the present study, the animals were placed in an experimental apparatus with four mirrored walls. After a period of 60 to 90 minutes, the rats approached the mirrored surface repeatedly. This indicates a strong interest in the mirror. However, if they were forced to sit in the mirror for up to 90 minutes, they showed no interest in it. The same was true when the rats were exposed to still and video-recorded images.
If the animals can recognize themselves in a mirror, they can move on to self-directed behaviors. In these behaviors, animals move forward to perform an examination of their bodies using a mirror. This self-directed behavior is considered sufficient evidence that the animals recognize themselves in a mirror.