In the realm of Thinkishness (see category tag, left sidebar), where I tend to post my science-oriented writing, I want to start doing an occasional series here at the Lizard Lair called “Mouse Science.”
I keep pet mice1, whom I have found to be gentle, sweet-natured, and surprisingly intrepid little creatures. Ever since I started doing this2, I’ve been more aware of scientific research that uses mice as test subjects – and it turns out such research is ubiquitous. It’s probably safe to say that there are far more mice than rats used in all the myriad laboratories and research and educational institutions across America.
Now and then I want to draw attention to some particular mouse-related research these intrepid little guys and girls are enabling us to do. Because of their sacrifices and often unpleasant lab experiences (and frequently abbreviated lives), they are helping us to improve our knowledge and create solutions that save human lives. I would like to honor that and show what greater good is coming of their sacrifices and tiny lives.
Therefore I’m inaugurating the Mouse Science topic here at the Lair. These posts will focus on some interesting research made possible by the contributions of mice, and which has implications for our world, our quality of life, or steps into outright science fictional “what if.”
This post is by way of introduction to the concept, so if you suddenly start seeing the Mouse Science tag on things or in headers, you’ll know what that portends.
Also, if you think mice will attack you or are just little rats (they’re not; they’re mus musculus, a different species, and do not grow up to become rats), you don’t know much about mice. TheFunMouse.com is one good place to find out a lot more about these little guys, and their forum is especially helpful if you have questions. This is a pet-centric site but has a lot more info about the character and behaviors of domesticated mice than you will typically find in laboratory-generated info or most other pet-owner sites.
1 Or as I call them, “meeple”, for ‘mouse-people’. The singular, of course, is merson.
2 In 2009 my sister was feeding her pet snake, who decided he wasn’t hungry, and when I saw that little mouse shivering in fear in the corner of the snake tank, I had to rescue her. And so I acquired Minnie Mouse, who soon had her companion Maxi (for Maxine), who turned out to be a Max instead, and then suddenly there were babies. Yeah. It happens like that sometimes…