The truth behind the shower rat video is not as adorable as it initially appeared. The video led many people to ask what type of animal the shower rat actually is (a pacarana) and to wonder why it would be soaping up and showering all on its own.
The shower rat video is fake, and the fact that this wasn't a candid moment is not what is upsetting people. Rats and pacaranas alike do not enjoy taking human-like showers. The soap on the animal's skin was most likely irritating and harmful. And it was all staged so a DJ could get his 15 minutes of fame on the internet.
Jose Correa, the DJ who filmed the video (and used one of his remixes as background music, naturally) maintains the video's veracity - but hey, we thought selfie rat was real, too. Sorry to burst your bubble, everyone, but the shower rat video isn't as heart-warming and innocent as we all thought it was.
The Shower Rat Is Actually A Pacarana
A pretty good clue this animal is not a rat should have been the lack of tail, but the meme-hungry masses on the internet didn't notice. Shower rat is not a rat. The pacarana, a South American rodent, is actually the creature taking a shower here. Pacaranas are known to stand upright, don't have tails, and make the "showering" motion shown in the video. Experts are darn sure that this is not a rat; it fits all the characteristics and the video was filmed in Peru, an area where the rare pacarana lives.
Even If Shower Rat WERE A Rat, It Wouldn't Clean Itself In The Shower
When rats clean themselves, they do not hop in the shower and scrub away. In reality, they bite and lick themselves, much like other animals do. It is definitely still cute, but it is not a shower. Experts say if a rat were to stand in the shower they would probably be pretty uncomfortable - and it wouldn't lather up with human soaps on its own, either.
Tuomas Aivelo, an Urban Rat researcher (yes, a real field at the University of Helsinski) said shower rat's movements were "pretty strange." Aivelo added "I think it's soapy all over. That's probably a problem for the rat. It just wants to get rid of the soap."
The Soap Was Likely Irritating The Rodent's Skin
The most likely scenario for Shower Rat is someone covered the pacarana with soap and plopped it in the shower. One expert says it could have been someone's pet that had been trained to "take a shower," but regardless of the scenario, the pacarana definitely doesn't want to be soaped up and is trying to get the irritant off.
Besides, if you've ever had a hamster, gerbil, or other rodent in your life, you know a large tub with torrents of water gushing down is not where a rodent wants to be.
The DJ Who Filmed Shower Rat Was Accused Of Animal Cruelty
Jose Correa, the Peruvian DJ who filmed the rat, maintains he walked in on on the rat showering (ostensibly in Correa's bathroom). Correa said he would "never want to hurt him" and he "filmed him and let him go." That may be - but where did the soap come from? The foamy little guy has suds everywhere.
One person who viewed the video thought the pacarana's feet had been glued to the sink. Others just thought it was a robot. Of course, the world later found out that the pacarana - not rat - would naturally stand up on two legs. At least we can be fairly certain no one's feet were glued.
Whether this was meant to be animal cruelty or not - even if we do give Correa the benefit of the doubt and he did simply happen upon this strange occurrence - rats and pacaranas clean themselves via licking, not showering or bathing in water. So, if the pacarana in the video tried to clean itself after the shower experience, it probably consumed an unhealthy amount of soap.
One expert said it was possible the creature was in pain from the soap of whatever irritant it was covered in; when you watch the video that way, you could definitely see that the pacarana could have been uncomfortable.