People (and pandas like us) on the internet love to write about animals – they’re adorable, friendly, beautiful, and lack many of the more negative personality traits that people are prone to. But what do you DO with them? While he won’t tell you how to feed or care for your pet, blogger Adam Ellis has created a comprehensive list of diagrams that will show you exactly where you can and cannot pet your domesticated animal pals.
For the most part, Ellis’ illustrations are on-point and accurate. Most people probably know how to pet cats and dogs, but I honestly didn’t know that hedgehogs don’t like getting scratched or stroked on their stomachs. And I’ll keep in mind that rabbits like their ears stroked for the next time I meet one.
As many commenters have pointed out about his work, it only represents general tendencies – there are plenty of exceptions. My cat happens to love belly rubs, and will present her tummy readily when she wants one.
Interestingly enough, a love for petting is shared by most if not all mammals out there. It has to do with a specific type of neuron (MRGPRB4+ for the scientists among you), which is spaced out broadly on mammals’ skin. This means that motions with broad surface contact, like petting, will activate it, but pokes or pricks will not. This neuron in turn stimulates a reduced-stress reaction in the brain. Some theorize that these neurons evolved in order to make social grooming more pleasurable, which in turn promotes socialization and good hygiene.
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