Is the mouse scared or unscared? What does the body say?
What does the mouse think?
Mice are incredibly cute and nesting animals, and often even beautiful. They are easy to rejoice and to love, and there is so much to "like" about them. What do I think about the color, the type, the big / small ears, the behavior, etc. What do I think about the exhibition results, by default, in petclass?
As with these little animals, it is easy to think, focusing on what I think. What the mouse thinks is quite easy to skip. Comparatively, therefore. Much because of the size (lack of) does not have to be that important (for us).
As a pet mouse breeder and amateur ethologist and interested in domestication processes, it's important to me not only to think about what I like about the mouse, but also what the mouse thinks.
What does the mouse think ? About me? About existence? About the situation it's in?
Mice are incredibly expressive animals! (It's probably all animals in their own way, that's their way of communicating). Something that can be seen clearly on photographs as well.
So I've reviewed my old photos and picked up some clear pictures, giving my interpretation of what information they give me. In my opinion, I also know / felt the mice well irl.
But first, I want to give a little more aspect to my interpretations and thoughts.There are many descriptive adjectives that seem to belong together, but that does not. For example, the adjective scared does not have to be characterized by an untame mouse. Or, on the contrary, an unruly mouse does not have to be tame. And a mouse must automatically not be social (with people) because it's tame. Here are many exciting aspects that I do not go into more closely than this:
What does the mouse seem like? In one word: "Scary!" Why? It does not tell the picture, more than the mouse is in an above situation.
So, I can not say just by the photo if the pushing/pressing mouse is a scared or an unscared mouse. Is it the first time it is in the situation, it may just be unaccustomed. Is it twentieth time and it still thinks it's unpleasant, it's probably a scared mouse.
On the other hand, I can say that there is a mouse that chooses "freeze" in front of "planes", in situations that seem scary, ie it seems to be gaze, and hope to do that way instead of perhaps triggering a hunting instinct with any enemy by running or jumping away.
This behavior, I think, is a domestication effect of our domestic animals. Mice must be manageable, whether they are lab or hobby mice! Mice flying at the least sign of danger (real or imagined) can not be handled. They have progressively expired from all breeding, consciously or unconsciously.
In wild animals, different individuals in a flock have different behaviors when danger is threatening. It promotes survival in the population, because different behaviors work differently in different environments. Environments change, and many species have genetic preparedness for it.
Domesticization is about humans and not nature's selection, and we choose the animals we can handle and which are not aggressive. Generation after generation, we choose the animals that suit our purposes, and of course, it gives genetic response. Even behaviors are about genetics!
The pictures show one insecure and one bold mouse.
A safe mouse who thinks the situation is under control, has a smooth, smooth profile when sitting still, with a back that runs like a smooth curve from manke to tail rot.The eyes have an open look and the ears are attentive. Rowanda shows a safe mouse while the little Agouti is turned off, with slightly recessed back part of the back as well as closed in the eyes and ears.
These mice that "press down", I think are so clear to interpret. They try to get so flat that they mingle with the surface and "disappear". But the chest can not be flattened so that the contrast between the front and the back part becomes striking.
Really scared mice when picked up and / or put in new places will be gauged and turned off. It appears that the eyes and ears become expressionless. An uncertain mouse presses in different ways. If the situation seems scary, the back part goes down. Is the mouse just uncertain, it's low. It keeps the stomach close to the surface, often the head also, and the legs are often a little wide apart.
Less scared mice still stay still, but wondering. They can stretch out and air in different directions, while eyes and ears are attentive.
When the mouse is relaxed and not afraid, the stomach lightens the ground! Ears and eyes take pleasure in everything in the surroundings and curiosity is great. Curiosity is the hallmark of the mice! But they need to be relaxed and unscared to get there.
Unscared and relaxed, the intrinsic joy and curiosity of the mouse expresses itself! Is it social too, it interacts with me . It is not only curious about its surroundings, but also on me, my camera, and what I do. It will happily come up in my hand to explore things closer and to participate in my activities.
Images below: Social mice released on the floor, examining under the armchair (see tail), but when I'm call, it chooses to be with me.
Text and photos: Anne-Marie Björn