A robot rat has been created to monitor real-life rodent's behaviours.

Rat and scientist

Rat and scientist

The research team at the University of Queensland in Australia came up with the device which is able to look at the long-tailed creature's social reactions.

Scott Heat, a postdoctoral fellow of the Janet Wiles lab at the establishment presented the unpublished study at the 2019 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, California, where he explained: "When you think about other advantages a robot might have over a real rat, you could pick and choose some of your social cues and look at how a rat responds to some of those social cues."

The brand new model, which resembles a computer mouse, is designed to react the real thing by simply sitting alongside the animal, and actually allows scientists to better understand their traits better than they can with the living species.

An initial study of 10 rats found that the rodent wasn't bothered by having the fake robot inside their cage and would happily interact with the equipment.

Heath and his co-workers are now looking into what else they can find out, such as testing for complex conditions such as Autism.