We all remember the mice in Cinderella and Babe singing their sweet, high-pitched tunes. As it turns out, real mice actually do sing to each other in frequencies too high for the human ear to detect. Scientists in Austria have developed a new ultrasonic microphone that allows them to eavesdrop on mice. And what’s the number one reason that mice break into a rousing musical number? Male mice sing to female mice to woo them as part of their courtship ritual.
Scientists have been recording mouse vocalizations for a few years, but this new equipment makes it easier and records the sounds more clearly. They’ve learned that infant mice also use similar ultrasonic sounds to call to their mothers. And female mice sing to one another to help distinguish individuals, much as a human might use her voice to say, “You look familiar. Where do I know you from?” But male mice—those tiny Casanovas—are the Frank Sinatras of micedom.
Unfortunately, experimenters tried out the new microphone on mice imprisoned in a laboratory, when they could have just as easily eavesdropped on conversations between wild mice. And with this new technology allowing them to listen in on and decode more efficiently what mice are saying, we hope they’ll soon figure out that many of those little voices are saying, “Let us out of here!”
Anyone who has companion mice knows that they’re affectionate, intelligent social butterflies. They become emotionally attached to one another, love and fiercely protect their families, and form strong bonds with their human guardians. They enjoy being massaged and will reciprocate by lovingly grooming human fingers. These bright, curious animals are content to spend hours exploring and playing.
And just like bigger animals, mice don’t want to be locked in cages, deprived of everything they value, and tortured and killed in experiments. In laboratories, mice are poisoned, burned, electroshocked, addicted to drugs, made to develop cancer, and genetically manipulated—and that’s just the beginning. Since these animals are denied even the minimal protections of the federal Animal Welfare Act, they’re usually also denied any pain relievers.
For example, experimenters at the University of Pittsburgh are puncturing mice’s intestines so that fecal matter and bacteria leak into the animals’ stomachs, causing sepsis—even though we’ve known since 2013 that results from sepsis experiments on mice can’t be applied to humans. These mice are in agony until they succumb to multiple organ failure and die. Mice don’t deserve this—no one does.
Now that you’ve heard these sensitive animals singing to one another like giddy young couples in love, will you speak up for them? Please, ask the University of Pittsburgh to end the pointless and cruel sepsis experiments on mice today.