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Animals 2016, 6(8), 46;

Quantity Discrimination in Domestic Rats, Rattus norvegicus

Animal Behavior and Welfare Research Group, Department of Animal and Land Sciences, Hartpury University Centre, Hartpury, Gloucestershire GL19 3BE, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 1 August 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Ethology and Welfare of Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [211 KB, uploaded 3 August 2016]


Quantity discrimination is a basic form of numerical competence where an animal distinguishes which of two amounts is greater in size. Whilst quantity discrimination in rats has been investigated via training paradigms, rats’ natural quantity discrimination abilities without explicit training for a desired response have not been explored. This study investigated domestic rats’ ability to perform quantity discrimination. Domestic rats ( n = 12) were examined for their ability to distinguish the larger amount under nine quantity comparisons. One-sample t -tests identified a significant preference for the larger quantity in comparisons of 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3, 3 vs. 5, 3 vs. 8, 4 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 8. No preference between quantities was found for comparisons of 3 vs. 4, 4 vs. 5 and 5 vs. 6. Overall, this study drew two key conclusions. Firstly, that domestic rats are capable of performing quantity discrimination without extensive training. Secondly, as subjects adhered to Weber’s law, it was concluded that the approximate number system underpins domestic rats’ ability to perform spontaneous quantity discrimination. View Full-Text
Keywords: quantity discrimination; numerical discrimination; rodent cognition; rat quantity discrimination; numerical discrimination; rodent cognition; rat
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Cox, L.; Montrose, V.T. Quantity Discrimination in Domestic Rats, Rattus norvegicus. Animals 2016, 6, 46.

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