No, that's not where it goes
December 3, 2019 3:56 PM   Subscribe

 
No more twist.
posted by BiggerJ at 4:10 PM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


Someone start a selective breeding program. I want a mouseservant.

Also: Rescue Rangers Gadget IRL.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:10 PM on December 3, 2019 [7 favorites]


I haven't been able to find any theories about this behavior and I'm really curious if it resembles some natural mouse behavior.
posted by Horkus at 4:38 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


Jeeves! You are dismissed! I want a mouse to tidy m'ouse.
posted by lalochezia at 5:03 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


Meowse? ...spoiler: jeeves is a cat
posted by lalochezia at 5:04 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mouse is better organized than me.
posted by clawsoon at 5:12 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


Someone had to!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:16 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I haven't been able to find any theories about this behavior and I'm really curious if it resembles some natural mouse behavior.

First hypothesis from watching the video: this looks like caching behavior, except I don't think of mice as big cachers--I think of hamsters and sometimes voles. Do mice cache?

Glancing at it, it looks like Peromyscus to me, which is odd: that's a genus I associate with North America. A look at this guide to UK wild rodents tells me it's probably Apodemus sylvaticus, a field mouse, rather than a house mouse.

I check Google scholar for the species, and it tells me that A. sylvaticus is, indeed, a species that absolutely caches seeds and nuts--including acorns, which look to be about the size of those metal bits and bobs. I'd guess that this mouse has, for whatever reason, decided that this box is a cache of acorns and nuts for the winter. The rude gentleman scattering the metal pieces everywhere is some kind of acorn thief hellbent on disturbing the poor mouse's food stores, from its point of view.

A fun note: Apodemus is also known to haul leaves and twigs around its environment to serve as landmarks for navigation. I don't think that's what is going on here as it seems to be tidying the metal pieces into a small box, but it's also easily a possible explanation for items left outside the box in "strange patterns."
posted by sciatrix at 5:20 PM on December 3, 2019 [70 favorites]


I haven't been able to find any theories about this behavior and I'm really curious if it resembles some natural mouse behavior.

The Inside Edition story on this has some commentary from veterinarian Laurie Hess:
“They’re actually very clean and they’re very meticulous,” Hess said. “They are just innately very organized and very neat.”

While Hess has not observed the particular mouse plaguing Mckears’ home, she guessed it has to do with the mouse wanting to reorganize his home.
posted by Not A Thing at 5:21 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Oh, and he filled that tub with peanuts before the mouse started adding to it! The mouse must have thought it had found a GREAT cache no one was using to build off of, plus all these little nut sized things to shove into it. Delightful.
posted by sciatrix at 5:22 PM on December 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


god that landmarks study is so fuckin' cool, that's a really odd behavior coming from a mammal even if it makes total sense from a behavioral standpoint--they're cachers and caching rodents are notorious for forgetting where their food caches are. I wonder if squirrels do something similar. I wonder if people have looked--I know there's a bunch of literature on hamsters and caching behavior, but I don't know if folks have checked wild hamsters in naturalistic conditions rather than lab hamsters. this is so cool.
posted by sciatrix at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


My vague recollection of reading about squirrels and their caching behavior is that they do lose an enormous amount of it. It sounds like they could learn a thing or two from a couple mouse species.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:48 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I don't know how relevant this is but I've had many, many pet rats that will do this sort of thing. You'd find caches of loose change behind couches and in corners behind bookshelves and stuff.

And rodents are pretty strong for their size. My larger adult rats could readily lift 1+ pound loads and drag them around, especially if they teamed up.
posted by loquacious at 5:57 PM on December 3, 2019 [9 favorites]


A Clarke's Nutcracker can store seeds (exclusively from the whitebark pine) for winter in 5-20,000 different caches and apparently remember where most/all of them are up to nine months later. It seems to do this be remembering not the location per se but instead the relation of caches to land marks. Scientists have messed with likely landmarks in an area and birds haven't been able to find their caches in those areas.

PS: the Clarke's Nutcracker is so prolific with it's seed caching it is the primary method that Whitebark Pines propagate.

Gray Jays (Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack/Camp Robber) "have a memory like a Vegas Card Counter" and during the summer will cache up to 8,000 bundles of food held together by a special sticky saliva that they also use to attach caches to random trees. Over the winter they retrieve up to 80% of a summer's caches. (much of the rest is eaten by other animals).

Pikas on the other hand will spend all summer storing hay and other vegetation for the winter in a single haypile.
posted by Mitheral at 7:29 PM on December 3, 2019 [13 favorites]


Clearly the onset of an Aeslin Mice colony. We’re gonna need cake, and teeny tiny bunting.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:54 PM on December 3, 2019 [14 favorites]


Hail!
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:16 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


This relates to one my favorite horror prompts. What if you found a dead Borrower.

Like, would you think it was a doll? It's fully human and the size of a mouse would you just ..ignore it? put it outside (Oh god it has CLOTHES) pretend it wasn't there?
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on December 3, 2019 [19 favorites]


I thought the deal with caching animals that lose track of their stores, like squirrels, is that all of them use the same criteria for what constitutes a good hiding place. Consequently, all of them look in the same types of places, finding either stores left by themselves or others.

But I loved the ad depicting a squirrel using Post-It Notes as reminders about where stores were secreted.
posted by carmicha at 8:48 PM on December 3, 2019


I welcome the mice as the nervous, to-do list having, collecting supplies client species to Humanity's party monster diplomatic core role in the Space UN
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


As far as mice caching goes...
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 9:12 PM on December 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


Like, would you think it was a doll? It's fully human and the size of a mouse would you just ..ignore it? put it outside (Oh god it has CLOTHES) pretend it wasn't there?

Why you dead, Mickey?
posted by tzikeh at 9:22 PM on December 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


That mouse is a straightener.
posted by vrakatar at 10:05 PM on December 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


The mouse is just a distraction while the rats steal a generator.
posted by tyro urge at 10:13 PM on December 3, 2019 [10 favorites]


This mouse may work for peanuts, but I have cheese, and I will outbid his current employer.
posted by bryon at 10:21 PM on December 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


I remember an old Scientific American article about jays and their caches describing experiments which showed that they have independent memories associated with each eye (no Jay's were harmed in the experiments, it was claimed).
posted by jamjam at 11:03 PM on December 3, 2019


Related to caching, I know rabbits and other rodents often have a strong organizational instinct for things within their territory. My rabbit was fanatical about making sure all his toys and sticks were in EXACTLY the right place, and hated when we'd 'clean' his partition. I wonder if him intentionally spreading things around to entice the unknown mover encouraged this behavior.
posted by neonrev at 3:23 AM on December 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


...caching rodents are notorious for forgetting where their food caches are. I wonder if squirrels do something similar.

Yes. They bury little piles of acorns in my lawn, and in the Spring, they dig lots of holes trying to find each others' caches. They do not replace their divots.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:38 AM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


It felt a bit unsatisfying that the video didn't last until the workspace was entirely tidy. I could have watched this for another 15 minutes, easily.
posted by Mchelly at 5:36 AM on December 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


Whelk, those Mary Norton books were big faves of mine—been thinking about them lately—but it never occurred to me that one might find a deceased Borrower. This is a whole new and unusual horror for me to contemplate. Thank you?

Also, sciatrix has reminded me of a favorite, long-out-of-print kids’ book called “The Taming of the Giants.” Its hero was a small field mouse who self-identified as Apodemus Sylvaticus. I loved that book and thanks to it was slinging around a Latin name at the age of three, rescuing baby mice and naming them all Apodemus.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:48 AM on December 4, 2019 [10 favorites]


This mouse needs a name. I suggest Shedric.
posted by Paul Slade at 6:25 AM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


Huh, I wonder if events like this might be the root of some of the myths about elves and other spirits cleaning and/or messing things up.

If you're a pre-modern person who believes in all manner of spirits and wake up one day to find things put away house elves might seem like a reasonable explanation for what you've observed.
posted by sotonohito at 6:30 AM on December 4, 2019 [17 favorites]


Looks like NIMH let another one escape.
posted by blurker at 7:23 AM on December 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


especially if they teamed up.

OK, this is animal news I can use. Thanks for telling us about your rats, loquacious.
posted by amtho at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


It felt a bit unsatisfying that the video didn't last until the workspace was entirely tidy. I could have watched this for another 15 minutes, easily.

There's a new comparatively short-form slow TV concept here...
posted by Dysk at 8:05 AM on December 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


I get field mice in the camper or shed and/or voles. They are small and very cute but they make a terrible mess, chew stuff, and carry fleas and ticks. not tidy at all. How do I attract tidier mice?
posted by theora55 at 8:34 AM on December 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


The best apprentice ever.
posted by drezdn at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes. They bury little piles of acorns in my lawn, and in the Spring, they dig lots of holes trying to find each others' caches. They do not replace their divots.

Ha! I actually meant making their own landmarks. It's unusual to see tool use in this way documented in such a small rodent--it tends to be something that gets framed as the domain of bigger, more behaviorally complex and social species. But moving items in the environment in order to create landmarks that can be used to help detect cache stores is in fact a form of tool use and potentially demonstrates the ability to plan ahead for future detection of the cache. It's been a long time since I did animal cognition and spatial memory, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
posted by sciatrix at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


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