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Souris Serenade

November 1st, 2005

Dr Petra

Here’s a sweet story for you to make up for the pumpkin naughtiness yesterday.

American scientists have discovered that mice can sing. In fact, they can sing love songs to other mice they fancy.

Awwwww.

The research, published in the journal PloS Biology, revealed that male mice sang complex songs when they smell the pheromones of female mice.

It’s been known for a while that mice make sounds outside the human range of hearing, but scientists Tim Holy and Zhongsheng Guo accidentally discovered the singing when they presented male mice with cotton balls soaked in female mouse urine. Whenever the mice were presented with the cotton balls they changed from making random chirps and started repeating birdsong like patterns.

Other animals are known to use song within courtship rituals, but it’s the first time it’s been observed in mice.

Of course the research is limited since we can only assume the mice were a. singing and b. singing in response to the smell of female mouse pheromones. They may have been singing delightedly at the appearance of cotton balls (hey, we don’t know that mice don’t really love cotton balls do we?). Or perhaps they were desperately trying to signal to researchers ‘please take away those disgusting urine soaked cotton balls they’re making us ill!’ Or they may have been saying ‘enough already with the cotton balls and bring us some cheese!’.

Further research should be conducted to assess whether male mice respond similarly with real females as opposed to scented cotton balls, or whether female mice can sing, or if singing can be elicited from gay mice.

Whatever theses results mean, what a great job to have – investigating mice singing! And what a lovely story too – imagine all those mice out there singing love songs so romantically.

I bet their favourite is ‘all by mice-self’ :-)

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