The animals can live in a variety of habitats, from arid deserts to the jungles of the Indo-Pacific. Many of the rodents have become commensal with humans and are known to be pests. Murines live in nests or burrows, either in trees, on the ground, or in and around houses. Certain murine rodents, like the brown rat, are known to live in burrows, which has led animal biologists to study them in mazes—which simulate their natural habitat—in order to understand how

The zebra mouse (Lemniscomys barbarus) gets its name from the stripes on its back. (Photo by S. R. Maglione/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A house mouse (Mus musculus) carrying its newborn offspring. (Photo by Kim Taylor. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

they find their way and how they learn. Once put in a maze with food at the end, brown rats will search through the maze and make a series of errors, but eventually will run at high speed, without deviations, directly to the end. They also can find their way in lit and dark mazes, are not confused by inclined floors, and it is speculated that they use their whiskers to feel the walls, and even listen to the echoes of their noises off the walls of the maze to orient themselves. They perform better in mazes than humans, which has lead scientists to believe that the rats have memories and minds conditioned, from living in underground tunnels, to a sort of navigation.

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