UNE animal psychology expert Zach Olson explains pet behavior in 'National Geographic' article

Zach Olson
Zach Olson

December 21, 2016

Zach Olson, Ph.D., assistant professor of animal behavior in the Department of Psychology, was quoted in a December 17 article in National Geographic. “Why Cats Poop on Your Bed and Other Odd Pet Behaviors” delved into the psychology behind some of the mystifying things that our animal companions do.

In addition to answering the questions of why cats sometimes defecate outside of the litter box and what a dog’s “smile” really means, the article explained specific behaviors of birds and rabbits.

“Many pet birds perform a behavior that looks like they are throwing up on their owners,” Olson told National Geographic, clarifying that to our feathered friends, regurgitation “is a sign of affection.” He also explained that rabbits, as prey animals, are very easily frightened and may freeze. The posture is often interpreted as relaxation, but, according to Olson, “the animal is terrified.”

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