Mouse romance may involve sing-offs

Babe may have been onto something with its Greek chorus of singing mice.

The common house or prairie mouse can’t warble “Blue Moon,” nor can any mouse for that matter, but their “singing” may be more sophisticated that researchers first thought.

As far as research shows, only male mice sing. You couldn’t ascertain this yourself; their songs are above the range of human hearing. Nevertheless, their songs involve pitch changes and repeated phrases used to attract female mice just like many bird species.

When slowed down to sound waves we can actually hear, mice songs sound like this:

The furry creatures’ aptitude for crooning to their mates was discovered several years ago. The new discovery is that males can actually harmonize.

Researchers at Duke University put two unrelated male mice together in the lab. After about eight weeks, the pitches of their songs started to sync up, and the adult mice began mimicking each other’s tune. This means mice could potentially be taught new songs by other mice, rather than the aptitude for song just existing as an instinctual act.

Scientists also think the sophistication of mouse singing may indicate that they use it for communication, not just courtship.


Photo: dullhunk/Flickr


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