We’ve all heard about dolphins romping in the wake of a boat, we’ve seen squirrels seem to chase each other in a game of tag – but when is animal play really playing?
Biopsychologist Gordon Burghardt has decided on these 5 criteria:
1- Play is not fully functional in the form or context in which it is expressed.
2- Play is spontaneous, voluntary, and/or pleasurable, and is likely done for its own sake.
3- Play is incomplete, exaggerated, or precocious.
4- Play is repeated but not in exactly the same way every time, as are more serious behaviors.
5- Play is initiated when animals are well fed, healthy, and free from acute or chronic stressors.