Selected OHAIRE Publications - Rat Tickling

Systematic Review

LaFollette, M. R., O’Haire, M. E., Cloutier, S., Blankenberger, W. B., & Gaskill, B. N. (2017). Rat tickling: A systematic review of applications, outcomes, and moderators. PloS One12(4)

Summary: A systematic literature review of rat tickling. This publication reviews 32 published articles about tickling and evaluates current methods, outcomes, and moderators. It concludes that rat tickling is a promising method for improving rat welfare and investigating positive affect. However, the establishment of tickling best practices is still necessary.

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Effects on Pet Store Rats

LaFollette, M. R., O’Haire, M. E., Cloutier, S., & Gaskill, B. N. (2018). A happier rat pack: The impacts of tickling pet store rats on human-animal interactions and rat welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science., 203, 92-102.

Summary: In this paper, pet store rats were either treated normally or tickled plus divided into high or low callers. Results showed that tickling pet store rats improved ease of restraint and decreases inactivity & hiding behaviors. Furthermore, low-calling tickled rats showed more fear and anxiety in approach tests. Overall, this paper provide some supports that tickling pet store rats can improve human-animal interactions.

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Effects on Pet Store People

LaFollette, M. R., Cloutier, S., Gaskill, B. N., & O’Haire, M. E., (2018). Rat Tickling in Pet Stores: Effects on Employees, Customers, and New Owners. Anthrozoos., 31 (4), 495-513.

Summary: This publication details the effects of rat tickling on humans in pet stores. Overall employee affect was not effect during the first 4 days of tickling although when selling rats positive affect was higher selling control rats. Customers were more likely to select high-calling tickled and control rats as happier. Furthermore, both owners and customers were interested in behavioral reasons for adopting particular rats. Future research is warranted to investigate the effects of more frequent or longer-term tickling.

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Refining Rat Tickling: Dosage

LaFollette, M. R., O’Haire, M. E., Cloutier, S., & Gaskill, B. N. (2018). Practical rat tickling: Determining an efficient and effective dosage of heterospecific play. Applied Animal Behaviour Science., 208, 82-91.

Summary:In this study, rats were tickled for various frequencies (1, 3, or 5 days) and durations (15, 30, or 60 seconds). Across all outcome measures, tickling duration had no effects. Conversely, tickling for 3 days improved positive vocalizations, play, and inactivity compared to only 1 day. Therefore, overall the results suggest that the most efficient and effective rat tickling dosage is 15 s for 3 days.

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