The role of vibrissae in behavior: a status review

Vet Res Commun. 1986 Jul;10(4):245-68. doi: 10.1007/BF02213989.


Vibrissae or tactile hairs are an important part of the tactile sensory apparatus of many mammals. A wide range of suggested functions found in the literature include food acquisition, prey attack, aggression and attack behavior, facial expression in intraspecies communications, dispersion of pheromones, maintaining head position in swimming, and a wide range of environmental monitoring (e.g., current detection in water, wind direction on land). There is little work done specifically on domestic animals or their feral relatives. Work on the tactile senses in general and vibrissae in particular is an open field of study. A set of general questions for study of vibrissa function in domestic animals is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology
  • Animal Communication
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Learning / physiology
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology
  • Social Behavior
  • Swimming
  • Vibrissae / anatomy & histology
  • Vibrissae / growth & development
  • Vibrissae / physiology*