People Like It, Mice Like It -- I Must Not Be Crazy: Running

So I'm not crazy after all.

Even mice agree with me.

Running is fun.  According to James Gorman at The New York Times, "Wheel-running is not a neurotic behavior found only in caged mice.  They like the wheel."

Scientists in the Netherlands did an experiment that it seems nobody had tried before. "They placed exercise wheels outdoors in a yard and in an area of dunes, and monitored the wheels with motion detectors and automatic cameras," he writes.

For the experiment, the wheels were enclosed so that small animals could come and go but so that larger animals could not knock them over. Researchers set up motion sensors and automatic video cameras.

A scientist who observed the mice -- and the wheel -- says the study made it clear that wheel-running is “some type of rewarding behavior” and “probably not driven by stress or anxiety.”

Mice accounted for 88 percent of the wheel-running events, and spent one minute to 18 on the wheel.  (Frogs and slugs were also studied but they didn't seem to like the wheel as much.)

Now, I don't know if they get the endorphin rush that I do.  But clearly something positive is going on for them, right? 

Some scientists say it may be because of the stress of being confined.  But Gorman quotes one researcher who says, "“there is an intrinsic motivation for animals, or should I say organisms, to be active.”


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