Rats Like a Good Laugh Too!

August 10, 2013 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

It turns out that rats like a good laugh too. Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist from Washington State University, discovered that rats in his lab were making lots of chirping noises. These distinctive sounds were heard more frequently when the rats were playing together. Pankseep and his colleagues set out to find if the chirping noises were a rat’s version of laughter by tickling the furry animals.

The researchers not only found that the rats’ chirping significantly increases when tickled but that the volume of the chirps is louder as well. In addition, the rodents will complete tasks such as running through mazes and pressing levers if the reward is tickling. The rats were the most ticklish on the back of their neck. Further studies are being conducted to compare the rats’ “laughter” to that of humans.

Pankseep J, Burgdorf J. “Lauging” rats and the evolutionary antecedents of human joy? Physiology & Behavior. 79: 533-547.

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