Animal behaviour

Wild mice run for fun on wheels


    Exercise wheels are popular among laboratory mice, but it seems that wild mice — and even frogs and shrews — also use them to go for a jog.

    Some have argued that wheel-running is not a natural behaviour and could even be a result of neurosis. Johanna Meijer and Yuri Robbers at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands set up exercise wheels at two sites where wild mice live, and collected video for more than three years. They found that the median running speed of wild mice was lower than that of their captive counterparts, but wild mice reached higher maximum speeds. The animals were initially attracted to the equipment by food rewards, but continued to use the wheels when food was absent.

    The study suggests that wheel-running is a voluntary behaviour, the authors say.

    Proc. R. Soc. B 281, 20140210 (2014)

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

    Cite this article

    Wild mice run for fun on wheels. Nature 509, 537 (2014).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.