Continuing from this question:

The rodents on the synthetic planet ( which I am now calling Ark ) can now walk/run erect when desired. The scientists continue with biological forging and work on there social behave , and the realize in hindsight that they probably should have worked on this first. The rodents live in an area with grass that is tall in relation to them , and smells slightly of mint. They run to and fro , dodging predators and carry twigs with large , sticky seeds or various small insects stuck to the ends.

Essential Question: what environmental pressures might force the rodents to live/forage in groups


Alternate Essential Question: what environmental pressures might cause the rodents to become social?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hi Tehocles of Saturn. I edited your question to try to give it a title that better summarizes the question. If you disagree with my edit, then feel free to either roll back or to edit further, but please try to make your question titles descriptive. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ Rodents did evolve social behaviors. See here - it's stronger than drug addiction in rats. There is no need to make them. Unless in your world they lost it somehow? If not, your question is void. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Your alien researchers are really getting it easy. Mice don't even need to evolve intelligence because they are already smarter than us. [Source] $\endgroup$
    – Daniel M.
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling no , its fine. Thanks $\endgroup$
    – user15036
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielM. I guess my questions answer is 42 then $\endgroup$
    – user15036
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


There are already social Rodents

The Degu enter image description here

They dig communal burrows, nurse each others young, have paternal involvement in child rearing, cooperatively forage and "have an elaborate vocal repertoire comprising up to 15 unique sounds". To socialize properly, they need to hear their mothers voices. Not a social trait but they also have been observed using rakes to get seeds.

They live on the west coast of Chile and are Coprophagic herbivores.

But why be social when you can be Eusocial

naked mole rats enter image description here

There seems to be something about communal burrowing that correlates with sociality. Give them a reason to burrow [predators weather] and make them do it together [high populations, undefendable burrows]. Also, use the Common goods game but ignore John Nash he is less than useful on the topic.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, I'm going to go get those cute little degu some oats. Maybe with a little bit of plaster... $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 16:44

If a random mutation/variation makes an organism fitter and able to breed more prolifically, that trait will be passed on; if that trait allows individuals which have it to out-compete the others that do not, then eventually they will dominate and the others will die out. With this in mind, there are some significant advantages to living in groups, a few of which might be:

Safety in numbers

The ability to kill, deter or scare off predators that an individual would be killed by, and the ability to defend larger territories against members of the same species


  • The ability to obtain better or more varied types of food, or larger quantities of food, than an solitary animal could obtain on its own. Consider the difference between a cheetah, which often struggles to kill animals of a similar size and weight, to a pride of lions or a lack of wolves, who are capable of taking down animals that could kill an individual
  • The ability to share duties and live more efficiently than a solitary member of the species: shared parenting, or adopting orphaned young; keeping watch for danger in shifts, allowing more time to sleep and gather food in safety; working together to construct larger or more effective dwellings/shelters.
  • The possibility of "looking out for one another", e.g. If a sick or wounded member of the group can survive and in turn reproduce due to the care of its fellow group members, when a solitary animal in the same situation would have died
  • The option of specialisation within the group: either phenotypically, as in bees, where you have specialist workers, soldiers and breeders; or behaviourally, as in humans, where craftsmen and innovators have the freedom to develop skills and advance collective knowledge because other specialists are taking care of food and protection.

The only thing to consider is whether there is an overall benefit after considering the main disadvantage of living collectively, namely that resources have to be allocated/shared amongst the group. The amount of food distributed to each member should be equal to or greater than what a solitary animal could obtain and keep all for itself, for example.


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