Tickled Pink

Mickey and Minnie seem happy, but would you say they are “tickled pink”?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Scientific research is often tested on animals before we humans can benefit from it. Specifically, researchers like to experiment with our furry friend – the rat.

But what happens if the rats are UNHAPPY? Much like us, depressed rats behave badly. So they’re not only sad research subjects — they can alter scientific findings, too!

Until now, researchers have simply tried to avoid things that make our furry friends unhappy. But a new study from the University of Bern in Switzerland focused on promoting positive emotions.

How? By tickling little Mickey’s belly, of course! Rats love tickling, and it shows. They usually indicate happiness through ultrasonic vocalizations. But the researchers also found that rats’ ears turn pink after a good tickling.

The team says its findings could lead to more reliable science. And rodents that love their work.

Now, for Mickey and friends, the lab might just be the “happiest place on earth”!