A tiny mouse has been captured on video, considerately cleaning up the shed’s workbench in which it lives. The mouse pops out of a box, picks up and carries some screws, nail clippers and a metal chain back into the box. It’s tempting to think that the mouse in the same way that a human would, is cleaning up his home. Things are rarely that simple in biology, of course.
It is not unusual for animals to clean their living area for sanitary reasons. Bees will remove bodies from the hive, male fish will pick from their eggs bits of mold and mud. In birds that dance to attract a mate, debris clearing from a display area is common. Although none of these apply to the mouse, so we need to seek an explanation based on the rodents ‘ innate behaviors.
North American packrats are known to collect shiny objects, stones, and wood to protect their nests. Some mice like to have a good larder – they will hoard when there’s plenty of food.
A mouse has been captured tidying up bits and bobs in a pensioner's shed.
Stephen McKears from Gloucestershire says he couldn't understand how small metal items were returning to their box every night.
So he set up a special night-time camera to find out 🐭 📹 pic.twitter.com/Gn1gvhTown
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) March 19, 2019
Many rodents bury novel objects they find in their territory, and this is sometimes thought to be an extension of all rodents ‘ natural digging response. Mice and rats are keen tunnelers, so an important part of their behavioral repertoire is the urge to dig.
Although it’s hard to be sure with just a short video as evidence, it’s possible that the behavior of the mouse is rooted in these responses of hoarding, burying and manipulating its environment in general. All those objects in the territory of the mouse may have triggered confusion, leading the mouse to stash them as safe as it sees fit.