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Scientists suggest that a mouse from Wales who takes great pride in their home may possibly engage in "tidying" as a form of enjoyment.

Scientists suggest that a mouse from Wales who takes great pride in their home may possibly engage in “tidying” as a form of enjoyment.

Mice have a reputation for being tidy creatures, but does this also apply to their living spaces? A video has surfaced showing a mouse collecting items in a shed and organizing them neatly into a box every night, leading some to believe in the concept of “mousekeeping”. However, professionals suggest that there may be other reasons for this unique behavior.

The rodent, known as the “Welsh Tidy Mouse” to shed owner Rodney Holbrook, was observed collecting clothes pegs, corks, nuts, and bolts and placing them in a tray on Holbrook’s workbench. This behavior has been ongoing for several months. A similar incident occurred in Bristol in 2019, where a mouse was caught on video “stockpiling” screws, chains, and other metal objects in a birdfeed box.

If Welsh Tidy Mouse is indeed maintaining a clean living space, it is not the only animal that exhibits “cleaning” behavior. Bees and ants also remove dead bodies from their hives and tunnels, garibaldi damselfish clear sea urchins and starfish from their nesting areas, and songbirds dispose of their chicks’ waste, uneaten food, and deceased nestlings, potentially to prevent infections and minimize scents that may attract predators.

The Northern Pacific rattlesnakes effectively remove vegetation from their common strike locations using their bodies, potentially enhancing the precision of their strikes.

The legitimacy of Welsh Tidy Mouse’s “mousework” or other activities is uncertain. While mice do groom themselves and designate a specific area for waste in their cages, Dr Megan Jackson from the University of Bristol, who researches foraging behavior in lab mice, believes that this particular mouse did not intentionally tidy its surroundings.

Dr. Jonny Kohl, a researcher at the Francis Crick Institute in London who focuses on the neural basis of mouse behavior, suggests that the Welsh Tidy Mouse may be exhibiting a unique type of nesting behavior. He also notes that it would be valuable to determine the gender of the mouse, as both male and female mice build nests for different reasons. Females build nests to keep their young warm during pregnancy, while males build nests for warmth. Based on the cold temperatures in the video, Dr. Kohl speculates that the mouse may be male.

However, this is an unusual situation as some of the items being collected are not typically seen as suitable for nest-building, according to Jackson. “Typically, they prefer materials that offer some support and a soft texture for warmth.”

Instead, the Welsh Tidy Mouse could be satisfying its innate curiosity. Commonly, mice and other small mammals are intrigued by investigating unfamiliar items and engaging with them. For instance, pack rats, which are sizable rodents native to North and Central America, have a tendency to collect shiny objects like bottle caps, keys, and pilfered jewelry in their homes.

Jackson stated that his laboratory mice have a natural inclination for foraging. They enjoy going out, collecting items, and bringing them back to a safe storage place.

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Regardless of what is driving Welsh Tidy Mouse, it seems to derive pleasure from its actions. According to Jackson, the behavior is not essential for its survival, yet the mouse continues to engage in it consistently, even though it knows that Holbrook will replace the items the following day. This suggests that the mouse must find some sort of gratification in this seemingly meaningless behavior.

As people, we have the opportunity to appreciate various facets of life. It is actually quite pleasant to witness a mouse participating in activities that are not strictly essential.

Source: theguardian.com