Ode to Mice: an ultrasonic love ballad


With Valentine’s day upon us, the iconic symbols of love are flooding shops, restaurants and media the world over.

Did you know that mice like to serenade their partners with love songs, too?

Whilst they’re not singing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (arguably the best song ever created) to each other, they do use ultrasonic noises to find suitable mates.

How do mice communicate?

Previously it was believed that mice, as well as other rodents, produced these ultrasonic frequencies, which cannot be heard by the human ear, by vibrating their vocal cords.

However, new research co-authored at the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Current Biology has discovered that mice produce these ‘love songs’ using similar mechanisms to jet engines. Yes, you read that right!

mice use ultrasound to communicate

The research showed mice point a small air jet coming from the windpipe against the inner wall of the larynx, causing a resonance and producing an ultrasonic whistle.

Ultrasound is also useful for navigation

Apart from serenading their potential mate with a love song, rodents use ultrasound for navigational purposes too!

Because mice are nocturnal, it can often be difficult for them to see. Fortunately, they have ultrasound on their side to help navigate dark areas.

Mice rely on other senses like ultrasound frequencies to navigate dark areas

As you’re probably aware, mice are amazingly agile creatures. Not only do they have a vertical jump of up to 25.4cm, but they can also scale rough vertical surfaces of up to 2m!

Ultrasound is a very practical ability to have in situations like these, as it has been suggested that rodents might use this capability to help get an indication of depth in their surroundings.

More facts about mice

According to Dr Coen Elemans from the University of Denmark, the study’s senior author: “Even though mice have been studied so intensely, they still have some cool tricks up their sleeves”.

Indeed, mice truly are fascinating and cunning creatures. It’s why they are one of the world’s most successful pests. Visit our website to discover 12 interesting facts about mice you need to know.

If you are in need of a mouse control solution for your home or business, contact the experts at Rentokil today.

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