Last Sunday, a 30 second video titled "Rat taking a shower" was posted on YouTube by Jose Correa of Peru. The video of the "shower rat" standing on its hind legs, covered in lather, and frantically rubbing itself with human-like movements quickly went viral, racking up over 1 million views to date.
Here is the original video in case you haven't seen it:
And of course people thought it was adorable:
But the next day in an interview with Newsweek, experts weighed in on the cute critter. It turns out that it is A. not a rat and B. not bathing itself. According to Dallas Krentzel, an evolutionary biologist who studies rodent diversity at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum, it is a type of rodent, but a South American brown rodent called a pacarana.
Krentzel explained to Newsweek what gave it away:
With the large head size, bipedal position, flexible forelimbs, short stiff tail, and consistent coat color...this animal fits the ID of a pacarana. There is just no other rodent that would fit all of those features, and the fact that this video was taken in Peru where pacaranas are known just seals the deal.
Furthermore, Krentzel and other rodent enthusiasts have expressed concern for the pacarana in the video, because it is not natural for rodents to clean themselves with soap.
In an interview with indy100, Toumas Aivelo, a researcher in urban rat biology at the University of Helsinki in Finland explained why this is:
Soap is definitely unnatural for rodents. Pacaranas, for example, are burrowing rodents which need the lipid layer on their furs to protect from dirt or moisture they encounter. It helps to keep the fur more easily cleaned. Thus, getting covered with soap could actually mean that the rodent gets more dirty. I think the rodent is trying to clean off the soap with normal, though a bit panicky, cleaning movements. Panicky in a sense that it's covered all over with the soap and it can't easily get rid of it.
This leaves only one question: How did the pacarana get all sudsy to begin with? Which takes us back to the original uploader of the video, Jose Correa. He claimed that he happened upon the rat in his bathroom sink washing itself on Saturday morning. But that just seems too unlikely.
Commenters speculated that Jose poured soap on the creature just so he could film it, and they were outraged:
Is Alejandro right? Was Jose doing this because he wanted to make a viral video? Why?
Well there is one possible reason: Jose Correa is actually DJ Jose Correa and he uploaded the video with his own music playing in the background. A message in the description encourages people to, "support the artist if you liked the video," and this is followed by a long list of links to his music on various platforms. To add insult to injury, he even goes off on a somewhat unintelligible rant to the people concerned about the "rat," and comments for the video have been disabled.
Check it out:
Maybe he should change his stage name to DJ Rat. Because if he did pour soap on the pacarana the only place he deserves to DJ is the sewer.