WTF Fun Fact 12823 – Rats are Ticklish

We never really thought about tickling a rat, but apparently, it makes them pretty happy. And other than primates, they’re the only other creatures that seem to be able to be tickled.

Rat tickling

Some people hate to be tickled but rats seem to enjoy it to some extent.

According to Smithsonian Magazine (cited below), the little creatures “…break down in supersonic ‘giggles’ and ‘joy jumps’ when you gently ruffle their fur—but only if they’re in the mood.”

Now, you probably want to know how we know this. Here’s how:

“For a new study published today in the journal Science, a group of German scientists had the pleasure of tickling some rats to find out that—like humans—these rodents’ responses to tickles are mood-dependent. Stressful situations stifled the rats’ otherwise impulsive laughter, while a more relaxed atmosphere made for uninhibited giggles. The new research, led by animal physiologist Shimpei Ishiyama at Humboldt University in Berlin, offers a new insight into where exactly in the brain this ticklish laughter appears to come from.”

If rats are ticklish, why don’t we hear them laugh?

It turns out that few of us will ever get the pleasure of hearing a rat laugh.

Smithsonian notes that “Tickled rats emit high-pitched chirping and squeaking sounds, which are only audible through a special microphone. Researchers were able to observe this laughter by using the microphones, as well as by measuring behavior and neuron activity of rats that they tickled and gently touched in various regions of the body, including the back and belly.”

It sounds like you’re going to need some specialized equipment.

And if you’re wondering where to tickle a rat in order to make it happy – the answer is the belly.  WTF fun facts

Source: “What Tickling Giggly Rats Can Tell Us About the Brain” — Smithsonian Magazine