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Shanghaiceltic BS: Singing rodents..... (30) BS: Singing rodents..... 31 Oct 05

So it would seem that mice burst into amorous song when they smell female mouse urine and whats more they appear to be in the style of ballads, unaccompanied too.

Wonder which songs they sing? And do non melodeous mice not get a look in? Is there a Mudmouse website?

The ardent mouse relies on melody to woo his mate
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
(Filed: 01/11/2005)

When a male mouse meets the object of his desire he sings her a love song, scientists have discovered.

It has long been known that male mice utter ultrasonic squeaks in the presence of the opposite sex, but a study using the latest computer analysis has established for the first time that these are more than mere random sounds - they are full-blooded love ballads.

Courtship melodies, which are sung at a frequency beyond human hearing, are common among birds, insects, and frogs, but such behaviour in mammals had been thought to be restricted to humans, whales and bats.

The discovery that mice have a gift for song could mark the most significant leap in the understanding of rodents since it was discovered a few years ago that rats have a chirp-like laugh.

The team can now compare human and mouse genetic codes to help look for genes in human DNA that are involved in song.

For sounds to qualify as a song, says Dr Timothy Holy, a researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, there "should be some syllabic diversity - recognisably distinct categories of sound, instead of just one sound repeated over and over.

And there should be some temporal regularity - motifs and themes that recur from time to time, like the melodic hook in a catchy tune."

With his colleague Dr Zhongsheng Guo, he found that mouse song has both qualities.

To hear the mouse squeaks, the researchers played them back at one-sixteenth of the recorded speed and dropped the pitch to reveal what sounds remarkably like birdsong, with a similar richness and diversity.

The mice are driven to sing by a whiff of female urine. The males produce rapid "chirp-like" syllables of varying duration, spaced at about 10 syllables per second, with a burst of closely spaced syllables followed by periods of silence.

Trials with 45 different mice produced similar results, with each male singing a slightly different tune.

The team now wants to see whether the females are swayed by a good male song, which could be a measure of his fitness.

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