How Smart Are Mice?

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Though they are little, mice are very intelligent and curious animals. These members of the rodent species can communicate with one another. They can express emotions through facial movements, forage for food, and make their own home. When compared to humans, their brain to body ratio has been found to be the same, though the makeup of their brain cells has slight differences. Because of this, mice can express empathy and care for one another. They can also learn from each other, and with a little patience, they can learn to live with humans as animal companions.

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Mice are very intelligent and curious animals.
Image Credit: Nilanka Sampath/iStock/GettyImages

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Size of a mouse's brain

Though a human's brain is much larger, mice and people have the same brain to body size ratio of 1:40. The FOXP2 gene regulates brain activity and helps with language in all animals. A mouse's version of the gene is only three amino acids away from a human's. In addition, a mouse's brain tissue and setup is very similar to that of humans. They have the same amount of brain cells in certain regions of the brain, though there are small differences in the makeup and type of cells.

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Rodent species have emotional intelligence

Intelligent beings are able to understand and express emotions. While people may think of mice as pests, there is so much more to them. Due to their emotional intelligence, they make great pets. These rodents are able to have empathy and care for their mouse peers if they are sick or injured. These characteristics help mice to bond with other species, including humans.

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Mice are also able to express themselves through facial expressions. They may smile when they are happy or look frustrated when they're angry or annoyed. Each mouse has his own personality and can react differently to show different emotions, which originate in the brain.

Mice keep themselves clean

While people often have a prejudice against mice for being dirty, they are actually very clean animals. They tend to leave waste around that carries disease, but the mice themselves are big cleaners and do not like to be dirty. They groom several times a day. Because of this, pet mice rarely need to be given a bath by their owner.

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Mice in the wild do carry disease, but when domesticated, they can be given dewormers or other treatments. As pets, mice have been found to be less likely to spread parasites than dogs and cats.

Mice can learn new things

Mice are curious animals, so a pet mouse can learn to do tricks or be trained to stay in certain areas. Patience, a clicker, and some treats can help in the process. Mice and other pets of the rodent species can learn what areas of the home are theirs to explore. With time put into training, they may also be able to do an agility course and learn to play with you.

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While it may be challenging, mice can be litter trained if you slowly encourage them to urinate and defecate in a specific area and move their waste to the same place. Purchasing a small litter box can help give them a specific area to go, which can also help you make sure they are not having issues with digestion or their bladder. Place the litter box in the area where they use the bathroom and reward them with a treat each time they use it.

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