A Conversation for Rats - Ways to Discourage Them

Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 1

Mogwai

I know this may not seem like much of a rat deterrent, but you might want to consider it as an option - perhaps you could tickle them so much that they'll be thankful to get away...
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Associated Press - 4 May 1998

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Rats just want to have fun.


The fact that rats can laugh, and do, is nothing new to scientists, but a researcher at Bowling Green State University found that the rodents most people consider filthy pests are also playful - and love to be tickled.

"About a year ago, I literally came into the lab one morning and said, 'Let's go tickle some rats,"' said Jaak Panksepp, a psychobiologist. "As soon as we did it, it was 'Eureka!' This vocalization came on right away, and more intense than before. And the data have literally been flowing ever since."

A graduate student came up with the idea of recording the giggling rats by using "bat detectors," sophisticated instruments that register high-pitched sounds humans cannot hear.

"Lo and behold ... it sounded like a playground," Panksepp said, adding that keeping rats laughing isn't difficult.

"It's quite easy. They're small, of course, but it's really no different than running your fingers as if you're tickling a child," he said. "You get the most laughter at the nape of the neck, where they direct each other's play behavior."

Rats register their gratitude with little nips.

"I have literally tickled hundreds of rats," Panksepp said. "The amazing thing is, prior to starting this line of research, I had never been bitten by a rat. But since I've started this, I've been bitten hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but always in a playful way.

"The skin has never been broken. It's like a puppy dog biting you."

Panksepp knows people may laugh at his research, but he doesn't care since his goal is to track the biological origins of joy.

"We interpret this as a primitive, childlike joyfulness," he said. "Where do we humans get more laughter than anywhere else? On the playground, where kids are running and playing. It's the same with tickled rats."


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 2

Salamander the Mugwump

I watched a documentary about this on tv. When the researchers stopped tickling the rats and took their hands away, the rats followed their hands around trying to get another tickle. They were so cute. It was quite moving really when you think how most people seem to loathe rats and consider them, well, almost evil.


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 3

Mogwai

There was something about these rat-tickling experiments on *TV*? Really? When was this? More to the point, *where* was this? Are you in the States? Sorry if I sound a little over-keen, but I truly love this story. (Plus my friends didn't believe me about it until I was able to track down the article I posted earlier.)

What were these scientists trying to research in the first place? "How's that cure for cancer coming, Panksepp?" "Er, well, slowly, I'm afraid, but... well, we *have* discovered something about these rats. Watch THIS!"


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 4

Salamander the Mugwump

Now you're challenging my memory. I think it was on BBC (I'm in Britain by the way) and I think it was probably part of a series on the human brain and mind, hosted by Susan Greenfield. As far as I remember (this was a few months ago), there was a 'chapter' where they were explaining where human emotions originated. I think they had elephants, chimpanzees and rats among others displaying behaviours arising from emotions that people think of as uniquely human.


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 5

Mogwai

Bugger. I saw most of this series. Clearly I missed the one episode which would have been most pertinent. Ah well. Thanks for clearing that up, anyway...


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 6

Salamander the Mugwump

Never say die! I watch that sort of stuff at every opportunity and I'm apt to get the programmes mixed up. I think it was probably the Susan Greenfield stuff but I wouldn't be too surprised to find it was the Robert Winston series. I'm not much good, am I? smiley - smiley


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 7

Mogwai

No less helpful than most TV listing pages... smiley - smiley


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 8

Salamander the Mugwump

When you get the urge to contribute your first guide entry, you could do worse that tell the story of the giggling rats, Mogwai. I bet the peers would love it over at peer review. What do you think?


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 9

Tefkat

I thought I had read it in the New Scientist but I 'spose it could have been Robert Winston.


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 10

moss sage

Perhaps science should take greater note of the fact of the laughter of rats.
WHAT LAUGHS CAN SCREAM.


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 11

Salamander the Mugwump

Good point!


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 12

Tefkat

HEAR HEAR


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 13

Styx the Rat

heh heh heh


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 14

Tefkat

OTOH I'm afraid when it comes down to a choice between the rat and my kids. . .smiley - monster


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 15

Amy the Ant - High Manzanilla of the Church of the Stuffed Olive

*tickles Styx* smiley - silly


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 16

Steffi

I got two rats and had 4 before them, and I am sure they don't only laugh, they also show sadness. I have no idea if they cry (hopefully not smiley - winkeye ), but I know that you can see it when a rat is sad.


Rats laugh when they are tickled

Post 17

Primord

awwwwww!
all that stuff about smiley - tickleing rats is very cute-If it works on rats-does it work on hamsters? I don't think I'll try-I have a Russian Dwarf Ham, and he bites like crazy!
smiley - laugh


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Rats laugh when they are tickled

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