I know why the caged mouse sings . . .

A Story of The Birds and The Bees  . . . and Mice

                "I Want You To Want Me"

                "I Want You To Want Me"

          A few years ago, researchers discovered that male mice sing. You may have heard the news, but you haven’t heard the singing, because mice apparently sing at frequencies beyond our range of hearing.  Thank goodness for that, Alvin and the Chipmunks are annoying enough.

This ‘discovery’ seems to have caught scientists and Mouseketeers by surprise.  Yet, it doesn’t shock me.  Males of all species will do anything to get the attention of females. Whether it is through brightly colored feathers or fur, elaborate dances, or singing in a high school rock band, males expend a lot of energy to get noticed.

Now the race is on to determine if other species of rodents also like to serenade their potential girlfriends.  Perhaps there will be some useful applications for this knowledge. I can’t wait for the first mouse trap that emits the ultrasonic love song of mice—they could call it the “Love Shack—Mice Check In But They Don’t Check Out.”

After hearing about the singing mice, I started to wonder if males go through elaborate courtship rituals because they have to “prove” that they are worth the trouble to their mate.  Just the same, performing a song or a dance still isn’t a very big price to pay when compared to the difficulty and risk of pregnancy—whether you’re a mouse, bird, or a humpback whale.

Of course, there is one group of animals where the male carries the young, and that’s Seahorses.  A quick internet search revealed that even in the case of seahorses, it is the male that approaches the she-horse and impresses her with upside down swimming and fancy color variations.  So, it appears that showing off is a male thing, regardless of the species.

In our domestic cats, however, it is the female that does most of the talking when she’s “in the mood.”  (Though, I hardly think that her vocalizations are considered to be singing by any person within functioning ears.)  Female cats are called Queens, and when it comes to getting pregnant, they really are royalty. Every time a female cat is bred, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is nearly 100 percent, because the act of mating actually induces the eggs to be released just in time for fertilization.

Female dogs emit special scents to signal when they are looking for love.  And every intact male dog within nose range gets the message. I end up treating a lot of dogs in the clinic that were hit by a car or injured when they escaped from the backyard in the hopes of sniffing out their future mate.  In the dog world, looking for boyfriend or girlfriend may be hazardous to their health!

As you know, mice are similar enough to people that they are used in the laboratory to learn more about ‘what makes us tick.’  Perhaps this discovery about singing mice will help explain the peculiar popularity of bars that offer Karaoke singing . . . but probably not.


Please feel free to distribute this article (at no charge) via all media— all I ask is that you give credit to the author and furrbits.com.  You will find Dr. Jon Klingborg at the best veterinary hospital in Merced, California– Valley Animal Hospital. www.vahmerced.com  Copyright 2012 by Jon Klingborg.