The Loh Down On Science

What these adorable mice do will delight you!

Bret Pasch

An Alston's singing mouse.

It’s the next epic sing-off—between mice??

This is Sandra Tsing Loh, with the Loh Down on Science.

If you can’t get enough of fresh-faced hopefuls battling it out on TV talent shows … say hello to Alston’s singing mouse, and its arch-rival, the Chiriqui (CHEER-ee-kee) singing mouse!  These two talented species live in the mountain cloud forests of Central America.

Why do these teeny, tiny, tawny rockstars sing?  For the chicks, of course.  And to scare off rivals.  But a new study by Bret Pasch and colleagues at the University of Texas in Austin has found the mousies have something else to sing about:  To claim their turf.  Think mouse-Sharks versus the mouse-Jets!  

Alston’s mice tend to roam freely between lower and higher altitudes.  But the larger Chiriquis don’t like the heat.  They stick to higher ground, where things are way “cooler.”  And to keep out the riff-raff, they’ll bust out a tune.

When an Alston’s mouse hears the Chiriqui song, he turns tail and heads back to his own 'hood.  Where he can trill his own tune.  Sounds like this:

Mehh … kinda “pitchy.”  But keep at it, dawg.  That wraps another episode of Central American Idol.

Check out this short video of a singing mouse.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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