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Calm Yourself With A Tiny Mouse Doing Tiny Mouse Things
May 6, 2012 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Brain Storm - "The smartest mouse in the world", runs through an intricate home-made agility course.
posted by The Whelk (56 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I took this to mean the mouse made the maze himself - but I guess this is nice too.
posted by newdaddy at 5:24 PM on May 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


My cat is so smart that he refuses to run agility courses for my amusement.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:29 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting. I wonder how the training works.
posted by delmoi at 5:29 PM on May 6, 2012


The smartest mouse in the world ... that we know of.
posted by Suddenly, elf ass at 5:34 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There were mouse droppings all over that table.

Ewwwwwwwww.
posted by Malor at 5:34 PM on May 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does he like flowers?
posted by Nomyte at 5:35 PM on May 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, that was incredibly sweet. I never understood why some people have mice as pets (MICE?? GROSS EWWWWWWW) but now I kind of get it.
posted by bahama mama at 5:37 PM on May 6, 2012


He is so following his own trail of urine.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:40 PM on May 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


goddammit that was cute. well played, sir.
posted by facetious at 5:43 PM on May 6, 2012


Oh god oh god there is a mouse in my apartment and we have tea cups shaped like that and what if it teaches its little mouse friends how to play Mouse Olympics?!?

I kind of want to bleach my kitchen with fire, is what I'm saying. But he is pretty cute.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:43 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A-freaking-dorable. But yeah, I wonder if it was following a chemical trail - it was sniffing around a lot, and I don't know how else it would know which direction to go in a space without walls.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:45 PM on May 6, 2012


Wow. There is no way I would have the patience undertake the Cinderella-like task of training a mouse to do that, even if I was locked in a dungeon for decades with nothing but sorted household recycling materials and mice.
posted by rumposinc at 5:45 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


When my shy cat was just learning to be a lapcat, one of the ways I would entice her to stay on my knee was to play her this video. She loves it.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:47 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]




I wonder if it was following a chemical trail - it was sniffing around a lot, and I don't know how else it would know which direction to go in a space without walls.

Nope. Mouse Agility Training. By the person who trained this mouse. According to the FAQ, it took one week to train Brain Storm to run this agility course.
posted by beagle at 6:01 PM on May 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


IT'S A MOUSE FROM NIMH
posted by sc114 at 6:02 PM on May 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


OMG this person is also agility training giant cockroaches.
posted by vytae at 6:16 PM on May 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our new mice overlords.
posted by marienbad at 6:16 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There were mouse droppings all over that table.

The placement seemed pretty tactical, so I'm guessing that they were scent markers?
posted by thomas j wise at 6:26 PM on May 6, 2012


I think the mouse never exactly learned the right path. Why was the "Goal" marker somewhere in the middle of the course. I feel the person filmed the mouse running the course incorrectly and then shot an altered course overview to make it look like that was the intended path.

Regardless, the mouse was super cute and I want to spoon it.
posted by cloeburner at 6:32 PM on May 6, 2012


So what are we going to do tonight, Brain?
posted by indubitable at 6:58 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have days like that too.
posted by Runes at 7:00 PM on May 6, 2012


I, for one, welcome our new mice overlords.

You joke, but part of me hopes that mice that have been experimented upon are sterilized so that we don't create a race of super mice that are immortal, immune to viruses, double-muscled, perfect metabolizers, hyper-intelligent, enraged against humanity, and unfortunately priapic from ED research. I sometimes think about whether I should be programming 4+ dimensional maze games so that we can take advantage of their likely OCD focus on solving mazes to distract them from their revenge.

I should probably be on meds.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:01 PM on May 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ooooooh. I've just gotten a new hamster - two weeks old, escape artist, about as energetic as a gnat hopped up on methamphetamines - and once I get him hand-tame, I wonder if I can get him to do things like this.

(Deep within the burrow in the cage of Myshka the Little Mousebear, there is a sense of foreboding. Ah, well. Back to the coprophagy.)
posted by cmyk at 7:02 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> There were mouse droppings all over that table.

A true athlete does not let a little poop stop them (link goes to unpleasant image).
posted by benito.strauss at 7:11 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't really think this could be done with scent markers. The mouse moves way to quickly on some tricks to track by smelling. Mice do use their sense of smell a lot to navigate in general.

If you look at some of his videos, she trains the mice by conditioning them to listen for a 'click'. So she introduces them to a new thing, like going in a box or ringing a bell. It obviously takes a lot of patience.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


unfortunately priapic

this sock puppet is suspiciously rigid
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:14 PM on May 6, 2012


I wonder how the training works.

The writeup is a little vague. Given all the sniffing, I suspect a generous deployment of treats at key locations. Even so, quite awesome, though really not so much testament to any individual mouse as to the high expectations and intense investment on the part of the trainer. Many mice might be capable of same given the right scenario. Would that we all were granted so much personal cultivation of our nascent skills. Go, little mouse.
posted by Miko at 8:23 PM on May 6, 2012


Yeah, I'd guess reward-based operant conditioning, which is the base of clicker training used on dogs, horses, and now apparently mice. The mouse seems confident, so I'd assume there's no negative stimulus involved.

Mice are good at mazes, and this is a maze without walls. Instead of remembering when to turn right or left, it's remembering which obstacle to tackle at which time, and how to do it. Wild mice have to learn routes like this in order to get food back to the family and avoid the things that might eat them, so it's just a question of coaxing a tame mouse to do something it's already well capable of doing.

(Also, above, two month old hamster, not two weeks. He'd barely be a jellybean at two weeks. I type good yes. And I am so going to try this, or something similar, with him once he's hand-tame.)
posted by cmyk at 8:35 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I had to guess, based on the linked description of the training, I would guess that the various obstacles are set up around mice's natural tendency to climb over things. The mouse is trained on each obstacle individually, and rewarded. Then one obstacle is set up, the mouse is rewarded, and a second is added. When the mouse masters the two, a third is added. Copious rewards and patient training produces a mouse that knows an entire course.

I'm impressed by just how many obstacles the mouse could do in sequence, and how short the training time, but, then, if you put a mouse in a maze with food at the end, the mouse will teach itself the maze and remember it for next time, so that's what they do. We had mice in our apartment, and they somehow kept finding their way from outside in through small holes, then through narrow passes between walls, and up four levels. They are little maze solvers.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:46 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


More like Shit Storm.
posted by Arthur Phillips Jones Jr at 9:16 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey. That was set up and filmed by my friend, Charlie Gordon. He's been doing a lot of this the past few weeks.
posted by sourwookie at 9:29 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Douglas Adams was prescient.
posted by tzikeh at 9:29 PM on May 6, 2012


sourwookie - help me out here. Is that a for-real comment, or are you making a clever allusion to Flowers for Algernon? If it's for real, it's AWESOME that his name is Charlie Gordon. If not--nice allusion.
posted by tzikeh at 9:30 PM on May 6, 2012


I'll bet that mouse can't write a creative brief though. Haha, stupid mouse!
posted by Mister_A at 9:41 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a female voice in the other videos.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 PM on May 6, 2012


Amazing what you can teach urban nuisances to do in search of food. In fact, wait till you see the obstacle course I've trained the neighbourhood raccoons to complete, with nothing but a bag of garbage for pedagogy.
posted by bicyclefish at 2:22 AM on May 7, 2012


Is noone else unnerved by this part?

Not at least because my mice are not just pets but also food for my reptiles, I attach great importance to their physical health. Any stress (e.g. caused by bad husbandry conditions) will boost their adrenal hormone level, which will again have negative effects on their general health situation. On the contrary, the predator will profit from a heavily muscled and well-nourished feeder mouse.
posted by biddeford at 3:52 AM on May 7, 2012


Well that mouse was certainly in no particular hurry.
posted by valkyryn at 5:19 AM on May 7, 2012


Is noone else unnerved by this part?

No more than the rest of it. I mean, it's not like your usual, well-adjusted people do this sort of thing to this level of obsession recreationally.
posted by Miko at 6:18 AM on May 7, 2012


I want to see the bloopers.
posted by what's her name at 6:48 AM on May 7, 2012


I completely succumbed to the oh-god-how-cute when he started jumping through the coffee cup handles.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:58 AM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's not like your usual, well-adjusted people do this sort of thing to this level of obsession recreationally.

Hell no. The usual well-adjusted person drives for 50 minutes each morning with all the other usual well-adjusted persons to get to work at 9.00 and sit at a desk and take a break from 12.30 to 1.00 pm then drive home for 50 minutes with all the other well-adjusted persons and do this for five days in a row so they can have two days of not doing it and then start all over again.
posted by binturong at 8:33 AM on May 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


I bet this mouse did a dissertation and not just a "capstone project".
posted by neuron at 8:37 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miko: "Is noone else unnerved by this part?

No more than the rest of it. I mean, it's not like your usual, well-adjusted people do this sort of thing to this level of obsession recreationally.
"

Miko, I think your comment diminishes the skill required to train animals. Animal training is a huge field with many, many skilled practitioners. It's not "obsessive", any more so than any other hobby. It is a skill based on understanding how animals are trained, which, frankly, many people perceive as mysterious and magical, to their pet's detriment.

In terms of well-adjustment, it is commonly known in my field (behavioral psychology) that animal trainers have the happiest children, probably because they do not have unreasonable expectations laid on them, and are actually trained to do things instead of just told.

Basically what I'm saying is that, in my experience, people who make comments similar to yours might also be in that distasteful group of people who say things like "You can't train a dog to not bark without giving them a good shock or two," or "The cat knows what it's doing is wrong, but it's doing it anyway. Therefore it deserves to be punished"

I'm not trying to insult you Miko. Rather, I really do hope that you, and everyone else in this thread, cease seeing this as some mysterious, obsessive weird thing, and see it instead as the simple application of known behavioral principles.
posted by rebent at 9:20 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is a skill based on understanding how animals are trained, which, frankly, many people perceive as mysterious and magical, to their pet's detriment.

Oh goodness, yes. Preach it. My dog is not the best-behaved dog in the world, but she's not half bad (I'm inconsistent and she likes to find loopholes) and every time I am out somewhere with her - park, pet shop - people will make a point to stop and comment on how well-behaved she is. "She must be so smart!" Eh, middling, but no more than average. "I could never do that!" Not as long as you think that way about it. "My dog would just [human reaction] instead!" No, because your dog is a dog and lacks the wiring to think or respond that way. You're tacking human reasons onto behavior you don't understand.

My favorite one is this: "How long did it take to teach her to do that?" To do what, everything? Well.. she's almost ten, and I got her when she was a pup, so... nine years and change? That's when the delight turns to horror, because Training An Animal is a thing that apparently happens during a clip-scene montage, and is not a lifetime commitment.

Animal training is pretty easy once you get a few things down:

1. This is an animal, not a human. Human rules, behavior, reasons, habits, do not apply.
2. This animal is [species] so learn which behaviors and habits do apply. Body language, vocalizations, etc.
3. See 1.
4. This individual [species] is [assertive/shy/curious/aggressive/etc] so learn which behaviors of yours will best apply to it, within the framework of [species] behavior.
5. See 1.

That, plus a willingness to do things until you are sick of doing them, a steady supply of high-value reward treats, and accepting that you will be made to look like a fool on a regular basis, is how you get a dog who understands what a tilted head and a raised eyebrow means. Or a mouse who can slalom through coffee-cup handles. I whistle and the dog comes galloping towards me. I tap with a fingernail and the hamster comes pootling towards me. Same exact method. No magic, just patience and snacks.

... I am no kind of expert on any of this, though I'd love to go back to school and study it. I just have pets and like to see what interesting things I can program into their squishy little brains.
posted by cmyk at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Miko, I think your comment diminishes the skill required to train animals.

Not at all. I didn't say a thing about the skill required. It's impressive, don't get me wrong.

But my understanding of this person so far is that he is not a professional animal trainer.
posted by Miko at 10:18 AM on May 7, 2012


But you're right, people have plenty of hobbies and they're all over the map. Mazel tov.
posted by Miko at 10:20 AM on May 7, 2012


Thanks Cmyk, you said it better than I ever could.

Miko, sorry I grarred at you. I have some family members who just got a shock collar for their dog and I guess I let out my frustration on them at you.
posted by rebent at 12:25 PM on May 7, 2012


I am happy to live in a world that has such wonderful things in it.
posted by troublewithwolves at 6:40 PM on May 7, 2012


Miko, sorry I grarred at you.

Not at all, it was a snarky offhand comment of the kind I'm not proud of making and, on reflection and after reading your good arguments, you're entirely right that it is a worthy pursuit and something that can likely bring a lot of happiness to both trainer and trainee.

Too bad about the mouse's fate, though. I had a lovely mouse in college. He lived 4 years after I took him from a friend who couldn't keep a pet, and then died a natural death. Watching this mouse run around reminded me of how nice he smelled and how his little body felt when I let him run up and down my arms and around my shoulders. Life is after all pretty fascinating.
posted by Miko at 9:02 PM on May 7, 2012


yeah, totally. I couldn't imagine investing that much into food
posted by rebent at 9:09 PM on May 7, 2012


Watching this mouse run around reminded me of how nice he smelled and how his little body felt when I let him run up and down my arms and around my shoulders. Life is after all pretty fascinating.

We raised a baby mouse when we found her on our porch, drenched and squealing. She was sweet as could be. You could sit with her in your hand or your shirt pocket for hours when she was young--she just enjoyed the warmth and breathing motion, and she never once tried to bite. (Notice I refer to her as "him" in my linked post--we were proven wrong when she escaped in a cage-dropping accident, then came home to her cage three weeks later to have five babies. They were sweet too, although never as mellow as mom.)

Life is pretty fascinating.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:00 AM on May 8, 2012


I'm curious rebent, or anyone who has the experience, how would you make a dog not bark?
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2012


Rocket Surgeon, my understanding is that you first teach the dog to bark on command, and then teach it a command to stop barking, and then that 2nd command will work even when the dog decided to bark on its own. But I'm certainly no expert.
posted by vytae at 11:35 AM on May 10, 2012


Rocket Surgeon, the SPCA's suggestions are pretty much right on the money, from a scientific perspective.
posted by rebent at 6:02 PM on May 10, 2012


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