A Mouse That Sings

singing mouse

The deer mouse is just one type of mouse that is known to sing. (Photo credit: Thomas Kitchin and Victoria Hurst/Design Pics Inc./Alamy)

You are likely quite familiar with the sound of birds singing. You might have also heard the sounds of frogs singing a chorus around a pond or lake. But did you know that some mice sing too? What is the reason behind this unusual behavior?

Bret Pasch, a doctoral student at the University of Florida, is researching that question. He and his colleagues study a rodent called the Alston’s singing mouse (Scotinomys teguina). This insectivorous mouse is native to montane cloud forests that are found throughout Central America.

Pasch’s research indicates that males are primarily the singers in this mouse species. Not unlike birds and frogs, he thinks that these mice sing in order to attract mates and repel potential rivals. Hormones play an important role in a males ability to sing. In one experiment, a set of males were neutered. One group received synthetic hormones, while the control group did not. The males that did not receive the hormones were found to be poor singers–their songs had slower trill rates and were limited to a small range of frequencies.

A second experiment tested females interest in different songs. When female Alston’s singing mice were presented with two songs, one of which was played at normal speed, and one of which was enhanced to play at a higher speed, and thus a faster trill, the females overwhelmingly preferred the enhanced song. Researchers believe that a more complex song indicates to the female that the male is a better-quality mate. According to Pasch, males that are better singers have better control over their nervous, neuromuscular, and cardiac systems, which would serve as an excellent indication of their overall good health.

The results of Pasch’s research were published in the June 2011 edition of the journal Animal Behaviour. Other scientists who contributed to the research included Andreas S. George, Polly Campbell, and Steven M. Phelps.

More to Explore
Androgen-Dependent Male Vocal Performance Influences Female Preference in Neotropical Singing Mice [pdf]
Squeaking Up A Storm: Yes, That Mouse Is Singing
The Mystery of the Singing Mice
Deer Mouse Singing (audio/video)
Male Alston’s singing mouse (S. teguina) (video)
Female Alston’s singing mouse (S. teguina) listening to male song (video)
UF Study: When Singing Mice Choose A Mate, A Skillful Song Gets the Gal

 

This article was originally published on BioZine in October 2012.

Comments

  1. Chris Nation says:

    I find it very interesting that these mice can sing like a bird or frog and would love to see a mouse do this in nature.

  2. Spencer S. Sanders says:

    I think it is very interesting that some mice sing to attract female mice. Since mice are so small it surprises me that they are capable of singing.

  3. Allison Parker says:

    I think its makes perfect since how they believe that the hormones play a part in the mouses singing abilty. Just like it does in humans quality an voice tone depends on the amount of hormones a male or female singer has.

    • Chris Nation says:

      And the more hormones the better the singing so the female would want a good singer with the large amount of hormones.

    • Katie Boniol says:

      It makes me very curious about what it sounds like, if its gentle and sweet sounding or more loud and squeaky.

  4. Jordan Hayes says:

    It’s crazy that mice are singers like that. I want to hear one!

  5. Caroline Cassetty says:

    It makes since that they would sing to attract mates. Its loud and the more complex they sing the more mates come their way.

  6. George Schroeder says:

    I think it is really bizzare that mice are singers because they are usually very quiet. I would have thought that the singing would attract too many predetors.

  7. Dylan Calvo says:

    I think it’s ironic how the mice try to scare others away and attract mates when they sing.

  8. Max Faust says:

    I find it interesting that this species of mice can sting. I just wonder how bad it would hurt.

  9. Kynzi DePriest says:

    its kind of weird that mice could sing…ive always thought of them as quiet animals!

  10. Lindsey Campbell says:

    I thought it was interesting how the males used singing to attract the females.

  11. Kiana Mills says:

    I find it odd that so many species rely on singing to attract mates. What if us humans did that?

  12. Brad Deason says:

    It is very impressive that these mice can sing like birds. I would definitely keep one as a pet and let it sing to me when I’m feeling depressed.

  13. Katie Boniol says:

    I’m really fascinated at the fact that they can sing, it would be pretty sweet if I could teach one some songs.

  14. Colton Carver says:

    I find it interesting that mice can sing and would be interesting to buy one

  15. Lexi Green says:

    I think I’d be cooler if they sang actual songs. A mouse singing John Mayer? Nice!

  16. Jordyn Henderson says:

    I find it odd that the male mice sing more than the females.

  17. Emma Brown says:

    I thought it was neat that the mice can sing but I thought it was bizarre cause ive never heard of that before

  18. Dalton Snyder says:

    This article interests me not necessarily because of the idea that a mouse can “sing,” but that it relies so heavily on hormones. I would think that past a certain point, hormones would cease to matter, but the research says differently.

  19. it was a little interesting

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