After mice and rats are used in experiments, in Italy, some can be saved. That country’s laws encourage experimenters to release these animals and give them a chance to be adopted. That’s how the little animals shown here finally got to go outside, feel sunshine on their faces, be held and cuddled, and even be tickled (which rats enjoy). Photographer Rachele Totaro, a PETA supporter in Italy who volunteers with rescue group La Collina dei Conigli, captured the rescued mice and rats’ first few moments in the sunshine and shared her photos with PETA.
She writes, “Shy ones, little warriors, curious explorers, cuddle-lovers: everyone acted in a different way when taken outdoors, and they showed once again that they are not mere numbers, as they are considered in labs, but individuals with peculiar attitudes and personalities.”
Some were wide-eyed and curious and wanted to explore the big, new world that they were seeing for the first time:
Others just seemed to want to bask in the sunlight and smell the fresh air:
Some were a little intimidated and clung tightly to their rescuers:
And others were more interested in snuggling than exploring:
Mice and rats are mammals who experience pain, fear, loneliness, and joy just as we do. These highly social animals use verbal communication, love their families, and form close bonds with their human guardians. Male mice woo females by singing love songs. And rats are among the most empathetic animals, putting themselves in harm’s way rather than allowing other members of their species to suffer.
But despite the fact that these are intelligent individuals with rich social and emotional lives as well as complex central nervous systems, there are no federal laws in the U.S. that protect the more than 100 million rodents who are exploited and abused in laboratories every year. They don’t have to be given painkillers. They don’t have to be counted. To experimenters, they aren’t even worth a number.
You can help make a difference for these sensitive, vulnerable animals. Use PETA’s form to send a message urging your members of Congress to amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to include protections for mice and rats. Support companies and charities that do not test on animals, and take PETA’s pledge to be cruelty-free today.