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Pink Rat: How Do Rats Show Feelings & Emotions

Many people like to think that animals are capable of emotions. After all, since they’re sentient beings, feelings are something they’re bound to experience.

In terms of emotions, it’s entirely possible for animals to feel them. For example, you can usually tell a dog is happy when it wags its tail. On the other hand, cats generally purr when they’re contented. So, animals may have their own ways of showing their emotions.

Curious white laboratory rat

However, did you know rats are capable of that too? In this case, pink rat would be one of the telltale signs of emotions. But what does the color pink mean in rats anyway? More importantly, what does this have to do with their feelings? Well, the answer to that question may surprise you.

So, Do Rats Feel Emotions?

Considering that rats, along with many other animals, are sentient beings, it would make sense that they could also feel emotions. However, it is worth noting that while they are all conscious, the way they may process and express emotions may be different from how humans do it. After all, humans have rather complex brains capable of higher cognitive functions.

Despite the difference in cognitive function, though, animals can still communicate things in a way that makes sense to them and their fellow animals. So, in terms of rats and emotions, they’re also likely to experience certain emotions, and the only difference is how they express them.

The context in which emotions come about is also something that may differ between rats and humans. Since humans have more complex brains and higher cognitive functions, they can feel emotions depending on their situation. What’s more, sometimes, the cause of one’s feelings may be due to an abstract concept.

However, emotions may be felt to a more straightforward degree with animals like rats. In this case, rats can feel emotions based on how they feel in their environment. For example, if they’re in a comfortable environment, they could be more relaxed, and as a result, they could experience that feeling of “happiness.” On the other hand, if they’re in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment, rats may begin to feel negative emotions.

How Do They Show Emotions Then?

Knowing that rats are capable of showing emotions only brings about another question. How do rats show emotions? In rats, there are two ways to tell that they’re happy, one involves their color, and the other involves a little bit of their body language.

For context, scientists in Switzerland wanted to see how rats showed their emotions. To do this, they decided to tickle rats, and this was due to previous studies showing that rats loved being tickled.

After tickling some rats, scientists noticed that the ears of those in the experiment group were intensely pink. The rats were compared to a control group placed in an unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable room, whose ears were pointed up.

So, they could deduce that happier rats would typically have pink-colored ears.

Aside from that, the same group of scientists also noticed that happier rats had different facial expressions. More specifically, the ear angle of more comfortable rats appeared to be more relaxed. 

Two brown rats in blue cloth

Why Is This Important?

You might be wondering what purpose that study may have served. Well, it can benefit several groups of people. For starters, owners of pet rats could help take better care of their rats with this knowledge.

Aside from knowing that rats loved being tickled, they could also see what other things could make their rat’s ears pink and relaxed. By doing so, they could learn more about what their rat loves and what they don’t. This can also help them learn more about their pet rat and form a better bond with them.

One other setting where this has significant benefit would be in the research world, especially in the medical field. Considering that rats are one of the most widely-used test subjects, this knowledge could help researchers learn how to treat their lab rats better. With all the efforts being made to ensure that animals involved in experiments are appropriately treated, knowing how to keep those ears pink and relaxed will be crucial in their humane treatment.


Like any other animal, rats are sentient beings capable of feeling emotions, and the only difference between them and other animals is how they express those emotions. However, thanks to studies, there’s now more readily available knowledge on how you can tell if a rat is happy.

Of course, this may seem inconsequential. But, this information is beneficial for pet owners and scientists alike. With this information, these groups of people can at least be aware of how they treat their pet rats and lab rats. In addition, they can do their best to ensure rats are treated correctly and with the utmost care as is required of pet owners and researchers.

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