Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Impact of tickling, a positive handling technique, on pet rats welfare, purchasing, and customer satisfaction"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Spring 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Animal Behavior, Human-Animal Interaction, Animal Welfare
Project Description:
The purpose of this study is to investigate if playful interactions (i.e., tickling) of caretakers with pet rats affect (1) caretakers’ affective state (mood, internal feeling state) and attitude towards work and animals and provide greater work satisfaction, and (2) clients’ perception of rats. The intent is to develop practical, species appropriate methods and protocols for handling pet rats that minimise fear of humans and thus increase a rat’s likelihood of being purchased while providing greater work satisfaction for people working with rats as well as making pet rat ownership more enjoyable. The handling methods could also be used to determine the suitability of specific rats to be sold as pets. The proposed study will lead to a better understanding of the impact of playful handling of pet rats on store caretakers work satisfaction, clients’ perception and satisfaction, and for assessing its suitability as a tool for selecting rats to be sold as pets. The proposed study will also be used to produce a written and video/audio guideline for training caretakers in performing the playful handling technique.
Expected Student Contributions:
He/She will learn to code video-recorded rat behavioral interactions and help collect human based surveys based on this handling technique. The student will also help with collating data and potentially helping with data analysis.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Prior experience with behavioral coding is preferred but not required. Attention to detail, conscientiousness, motivation, and dedication are more important. Other skills may include: previous experience with laboratory animals or pet rodents, data entry, database management, or other research experience
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Gaskill, Brianna
comparative pathobiology

Student Supervisor

Brianna Gaskill
Assistant Professor, Animal Welfare

Cooperating Faculty

Maggie O'Haire
CPB/Veterinary Medicine