The Dancing Mouse: A Study in Animal Behavior

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Copyright: This work is in the public domain in the USA only.

The variety of mouse which is known as the Japanese dancing or waltzing mouse has been of special interest to biologists and to lovers of pets because of its curious movements. Haacke in Brehm's "Life of Animals" (7 p. 337)[1] writes as follows concerning certain mice which were brought to Europe from China and Japan: "From time to time a Hamburg dealer in animals sends me two breeds of common mice, which he calls Chinese climbing mice (Chinesische Klettermäuse) and Japanese dancing mice (Japanische Tanzmäuse). It is true that the first are distinguished only by their different colors, for their climbing accomplishments are not greater than those of other mice. The color, however, is subject to many variations. Besides individuals of uniform gray, light yellow, and white color, I have had specimens mottled with gray and white, and blue and white. Tricolored mice seem to be very rare. It is a known fact that we also have white, black, and yellow mice and occasionally pied ones, and the Chinese have profited by these variations of the common mouse also, to satisfy their fancy in breeding animals. The Japanese, however, who are no less enthusiastic on this point, know how to transform the common mouse into a really admirable animal. The Japanese dancing mice, which perfectly justify their appellation, also occur in all the described colors. But what distinguishes them most is their innate habit of running around, describing greater or smaller circles or more frequently whirling around on the same spot with incredible rapidity. Sometimes two or, more rarely, three mice join in such a dance, which usually begins at dusk and is at intervals resumed during the night, but it is usually executed by a single individual."