Loved-up mice 'sing like birds' to attract their mate
Published 27/01/2012 | 05:00
Male house mice sing like birds to serenade their mates, a study has found. But don't expect to catch a performance in your kitchen -- their high-pitched soprano voices are beyond the range of human hearing.
Austrian scientists made the discovery after slowing down the ultrasonic courtship calls of mice and they found that mouse music bore a "striking" similarity to birdsong.
The vocalisations were complex and personalised, containing "signatures" that differed from one tiny crooner to another.
Until recently, it was assumed the sounds made by male mice were no more than high-pitched squeaks.
Previous studies by the same group confirmed that male house mice sing when they pick up a female's scent, and that females are attracted to their songs.
Females were able to distinguish between their own brothers' songs and those of unrelated males.
The findings are reported in the journal 'Physiology & Behaviour' and the 'Journal of Ethology'.
Songs of wild mice differ from those of inbred laboratory strains, the scientists found, with wild male mice producing more syllables within high frequency ranges.
Further research is needed to see if male mice with the most complex songs are most successful at wooing mates.