If you own a social media account, you’ve likely seen a rat taking a shower pop up on your timeline recently. Last week, a video went viral of what appears to be a long-tailed rodent scrubbing itself clean with soap and looking eerily human. While many debated whether the clip was fake or authentic, others got down to trying to figure out how and why the four-legged creature was taking a shower. As it turns out, it’s not a rat and it’s not bathing itself.
From its size, limbs and tail, zoologists and biologists have identified the filmed animal as a Peruvian pacarana, a type of brown rodent found in South America that can weigh up to 30 pounds. Scientists also clarified that it’s not actually cleaning itself, but more likely trying to remove the soap off of its body. “The movements are pretty strange,” Tuomas Aivelo, a researcher in urban rat biology at the University of Helsinki in Finland, told Gizmodo. “[It] wouldn’t do that unless there’s something it really wants to get rid of. I think it’s soapy all over. That’s probably a problem for [it]. It just wants to get rid of the soap.”
The man who filmed the video, electronic DJ Jose Correa, is accused of dousing the pacarana in lather, which some experts said is harmful. But he denied any wrongdoing, saying that’s how he found the rodent and filmed it in disbelief. “I would never want to hurt him,” Correa told Metro UK. “So I just filmed him and let him go.”