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article imageDo pet mice enjoy running on wheels?

By Tim Sandle     May 24, 2014 in Environment
Do pet mice enjoy running on wheels or is it simply a neurotic response to being held captive in a cage? A new science paper attempts to settle the argument.
The answer appears to be that mice run because they enjoy it. This is the conclusion of a study that showed mice in the wild like to run on exercise wheels as much as lab mice.
For the study, researchers led by Johanna Meijer at Leiden University in the Netherlands conducted an unusual experiment. According to the New York Times, the research group set up a wheel in Meijer's backyard with food nearby to entice the mice and a motion-sensitive camera to capture their activities. Then, she and her colleagues repeated the experiment at a dune-filled natural preserve and found similar results. Not only did wild house mice run on the wheel, but so did rats, shrews, frogs, slugs, and snails.
Ted Garland, an evolutionary physiologist at the University of California, Riverside, who was not involved in the work, told ScienceNOW, says that this “puts a nail in the coffin” of the debate over whether mice and rats run on wheels in natural setting outside the lab,
The findings have been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The paper is titled "Wheel running in the wild."
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