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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Rats are given 'shower cubicles'
Rat having a shower
A rat dispels the age-old image of a dirty rodent
A colony of Cumbrian rats is challenging the age-old image of the dirty rodent by enjoying showers at a Lake District wildlife attraction.

They are part of a new feature at the Aquarium of the Lakes, near Windermere, which showcases UK wildlife.

The idea for the showers came after keepers noticed the rodents' behaviour whenever the plants in their display were watered.

Now a special "shower area" is being created for the animals.

Aquarium of the Lakes spokesman Scott Davidson said: "Whenever we watered the plants the rats would all stop what they were doing and gather together on a log where they all got a thorough soaking.

"They seemed to be enjoying it so much that we're now planning to give them their own special showers.

"Rats are naturally good swimmers and are also believed to be highly intelligent creatures.

Nocturnal journey

"As well as keeping them clean, the showers also provide them with some environmental enrichment which mirrors conditions in the wild."

The rat colony is part of a newly-opened 200,000 feature at the aquarium called Midnight at the Water's Edge.

The new display area forms part of a major expansion to the existing site and takes visitors on a nocturnal journey along the riverside after dark.

The area features both aquatic and land-based animals including water voles, bank voles, harvest mice, frogs and toads, slow worms and brown rats.




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