Rat Boggling: Simultaneously Freaky and Adorable

Rat Boggling: Simultaneously Freaky and Adorable

rat boggling

Video by: Cakes1toDough1

In this gif, created from a video by Cakes1toDough1, you can clearly see the rat both bruxing and boggling.

Rat Boggling

No, that's not a seizure. When extremely happy or relaxed, rats will display a behavior known as boggling where their eyes vibrate and bulge. This is called boggling. Although it may be shocking to new owners or anyone viewing it for the first time, what you're seeing is a completely normal behavior. It's even necessary for survival. Skeptical? 'How can eyes vibrating be necessary for survival', you may ask. It's because the vibrating is actually caused by another behavior, called bruxing.

Rat Bruxing

Rat bruxing is the gentle grinding of the teeth against each other. Bruxing performs a vital role in maintaining dental health for these adorable rodents. A rat's teeth will continue to grow throughout their entire life. Left unchecked, the teeth may begin to curl up which can lead to infections or worse. Especially in the wild where any minor disadvantage from prey species can mean the difference between life and death, a healthy mouth is absolutely vital for survival.

Boggling is the result of bruxing. The muscle responsible for chewing, the massetter, goes through the eye socket behind the eyes. The rapid movement of the muscle causes the eyes to bulge up and down.

Another behavior that is often confused for bruxing is called chatter. Chatter is also a grinding of the teeth, but is typically seen in stressful situations. Chatter is louder and makes a sharp crackling noise.

So the next time your are petting a rat and their eyes look like they're going to pop out of their heads, remember - it just means they're happy.


Froberg-Fejko, K. (2014). Give a rat a bone: satisfying rodents' need to gnaw Lab Animal, 43 (10), 378-379 DOI: 10.1038/laban.611


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