Rats tell us why men find lingerie sexy, study says

In a Canadian study that got a little weird, rats told us why lingerie is sexy. And no, it didn’t involve gentlemen rats admitting their raunchy sex fantasies or lady rats explaining that the right French-cut panties will make that special boy sit up and take notice.

Scientists at Concordia University in Montreal outfitted some female rats with some sexy rat jackets, the rodent equivalent of lacy lingerie. Then they gathered some virgin male rats — I guess they don’t objectify females like more experienced males do — to drop them into a cage with the lace-clad lady rats and let nature take its course.

Once the boy rats became men, the researchers allowed them to mate again; however, this time the male rats were allowed to choose between either females wearing the sex jackets or females in the buff. According to the authors of this bizarre study, the rats learned to associate the jackets with sex and preferred to mate with the females wearing rodent lingerie.

Study co-author Gonzalo R. Quintana Zunino says the male rats learned to associate the look and feel of fabric with mating, that “each time my partner wears lingerie, I’m going to have sex.” Working in the lab of psychologist Jim Pfaus at Concordia University, Zunino and his colleagues conducted previous sex studies on rats, one of which involved the rats learning to associate a particular smell (almonds) with sex, which led them to prefer mating with lady rats who smelled like almonds.

When rats do the deed, the male approaches the sexually receptive female from behind and grabs onto her on both sides, which tells the female that she’s about to get some intercourse and gets her “excited.” The experimenters attempted to imitate male rats by grabbing the females in this way, causing them to do a sort of “wiggling” movement or seductive rat dance. When a female is wearing the sex jacket during intercourse, the male rat feels it with his whiskers.

The study found that not only did the male rats begin to prefer the females wearing rat lingerie over the females who were au naturel, but the males also made more frequent and consecutive mounting attempts in addition to ejaculating more quickly. Isn’t that lovely?

The researchers also wanted to see brain activity related to the learned preference for lingerie and how sex affects the brain. After the male rats had mated with jacketed females, they injected a dye into the rats’ brains that allowed them to track the activity of a gene called c-fos, which is a measure of neural activation. Specifically, they wanted to look at the pleasure center of the rats’ brains including the ventral tegmental and the nucleus accumbens. Rats that mated with jacketed females showed more activity in the brain’s pleasure centers than those who did not. In other words, the male rats learned that the presence of lingerie was more stimulating, or erotic.

Unfortunately, the rats’ sexual awakening was short-lived; they did not survive the procedure of injecting dye into their brains.

Taken at face value, rat erotica is kind of disconcerting. However, there are actually some valid, not to mention interesting, implications of this weird science. The study shows that rats can learn to associate certain cues — whether contextual, visual, tactile, etc. — with sex as they did with the sex jackets. Although humans and rats are not the same, it’s likely that human females wearing lingerie does something similar for human men as the sex jackets on female rats did for the male rats.

Now let’s all try to forget phrases like “rat ejaculation” and images like humping rodents.

What do you think about this study? Can we really learn about human sexual behavior by dressing rats up in faux lingerie? Comment below.

To read more about this experiment, view the article on Live Science. And if you liked this article, check out these others:
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About the author

My name is Dane. I'm a writer at Android Authority as well as a tech journalist in general. As well, I'm a marketing guru, designer, and a budding web developer. My passions include portmanteaus, artisanal coffees, jackets, and the smell of fresh technology in the morning.