Wild Mice Like Wheels, Too


Apparently, if you set it up, they will run.

“A pair of researchers in the Netherlands has found that if a running wheel is placed outdoors in a natural setting, wild animals will come and run on it…. Scientists, researchers and animal rights advocates have argued over the years about the nature of mice running on wheels in their cages. Rights activists claim the running is a form or neurotic behavior brought about by living in the confines of a small cage. Some researchers, on the other hand, have suggested that the mice seemed to like, or enjoy running on the wheel, and even exhibited unhappy behavior if a wheel was removed.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-animals-wild-wheel-choice-video.html

Hands down, this is my favorite research article of the year so far. Neurophysiologists Johanna Meijer and Yuri Robbers set out to study wheel-running behavior by animals in the wild to test the theory that running on a wheel was a neurotic response to being in captivity.

They made hundreds of thousands of observations of animals (mostly mice, but other animals, too — even slugs!) using the wheel, and concluded that there were no significant differences in the amount of time the mice spent on their rodent treadmills compared to their fellow mice in captivity. They also speculated that the animals enjoyed the running, although they neglected to have the mice fill out questionnaires, so we can’t be sure. One thing we can pretty sure of: wheel running is “elective behavior,” and not merely an artifact of being caged.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the follow-up study on humans, in which a working human treadmill is left out in a park to see if people will hop on board.



About Jon Waldron

Running and Racing have been important parts of my life for as long as I can remember. I ran Track and Cross Country at Amherst HS, back in the day, and am proud to have been training and competing with the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) for more than thirty years. If my bones hold out, I hope to continue for another thirty. Sixteen years ago, I began coaching, first as an Asst. Coach at Newton North HS in Newton, MA, and for the past ten years, as Head Track and Cross Country Coach at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. I've been writing about running for almost as long as I've been running, dating back to high school, when I would write meet summaries for the Amherst Record for about $0.33 per column inch. I've been blogging about running since 2005, and began blogging at "the runner eclectic" in 2014. Until recently I also had a day job, working full-time as a Technical Product Manager for Nuance Communications, based in Burlington, MA. But I am now on what might turn out to be a permanent sabbatical. Thank you for reading my blog, and please consider leaving a comment.
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1 Response to Wild Mice Like Wheels, Too

  1. Robin says:

    and they run barefoot!

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