Mr. Mouse Went A-Courting

House mouse (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
House mouse (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

1 July 2015

Did you know that male mice sing to attract the ladies?

We can’t hear their songs because they’re way too high for our audio range but each species has its own song and they vary the tunes to fit the social setting.

I learned about this in April’s Audubon news when they highlighted Duke University’s research into mouse songs.  The article included this video of two mouse songs with the audio track digitally lowered so we can hear it.

First a researcher places fresh female urine in the male’s enclosure. Mr. Mouse can smell her but can’t see her so he sings a loud and complex song.  Next they put a female in the male’s enclosure.  When he finds her (why does it take so long?) he snuggles up and sings a softer, simpler song.

Male Mouse Singing To Woo Mate from Audubon.org on Vimeo.

What do the lady mice think?  When placed alone in an enclosure with a speaker playing male songs, most females stay close to the speaker when the complex songs play.  Perhaps those songs say “Come hither!”

Click here to read more in Audubon Magazine.

p.s. At 50kHz we humans can’t hear mice sing … but cats can!

(video from audubon.org’s Vimeo site. photo of a house mouse from Wikimedia Commons; click on the image to see the original.)

The title is a reference to “Frog Went A-Courting” in which Frog sings to woo Miss Mouse.

4 thoughts on “Mr. Mouse Went A-Courting

  1. Our cats alert us every fall when the mice try to set up housekeeping in the attic. We can’t hear the mice, but our cats sure do! They stare at the ceiling, tails swishing and ears swiveled to catch the tiniest sound.

  2. Dorothy is back at the nest taking a rest and wondering where her baby has gone. But we know she/he is safe and taking care of. Thank Kate, for all the info you give us to better understand our beloved Peregrines.

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