If there’s one thing that science can prove wrong, it’s that animals do not have any feelings. We already know that dogs can become loyal friends – something that we commonly hear. However, have we stopped to think about how the underrated rats experience emotions? Turns out, research proves that rats experience a huge range of different emotions.
New research conducted in Switzerland was recently published in PLOS ONE that proved that rats could feel many positive emotions, including happiness. In fact, you can tell whether or not a rat feels happy just by looking at its ears; a happy rat will have a more pinkish hue in its ears and will position them at a more relaxed angle.
Previous studies have focused on the negative emotions of rats, such as how they express pain, while aiming to learn about how to avoid those kinds of situations. However, this new research led by Kathryn Finlayson focused more on the positive emotions of these underrated creatures.
The researches brought up positive emotions in rats and watched their behaviour. By observing how their facial expressions changed, the researchers were able to establish that rats enjoy the feeling of being tickled. According to researcher Luca Melotti, this in a rat’s eyes is considered “play” between him and humans.
“As we used tickling as a treatment, we had to focus on selecting those animals that were really ticklish and that really liked it,” Melotti said. The researchers selected the 15 most ticklish rats out of a group of 75 and found that those 15 rats – all male Lister Hooded rats – had responded more positively to tickling than the other rats.
However, just like all beings, there is always some variety regarding how much an individual likes to be tickled; some enjoy it more than others and some less than others. Also, some rats prefer to play with other rats than with humans.