Scientists trained rats to slam dunk miniature basketballs in their lab. Seriously.
As far as the animal kingdom goes, eagles, tigers, and longhorns are generally much more associated with professional sports than rats. However, the humble rodent has one up on those majestic, powerful creatures: scientifically, rats can actually play sports against one another. Don't believe it? Check the above footage of an actual match at the Heureka Laboratory Rat Basketball Stadium.
Inspired by an experiment in animal atheletics at the COSI Science Center in Ohio, the Finnish lab began hosting its Basketball Rat exhibit, "nearly the only of its kind in the world," in 1995. Spectators can reach the arena by following a projection-mapped path made up of furry rodents, designed by Coder Coded. There, the real-life rats play several matches a day, each lasting about ten minutes depending on "the eagerness and skills of the players themselves."
Other rat basketballl throwdowns have been held at Wofford College, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the COSI Science Center, which inspired Heureka's original experiments nearly 20 years ago. Maybe one day, actual eagles and tigers will get their day on the court. Until then, rats are ahead of the pack.
GIF by Beckett Mufson, via
Visit Hereka's website for more information about rat basketball, as well as their Science Circus and Science Theatre programs.