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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Question New Plan For Mouse Test. What do you think?

Alright, I am not any where near knowing enough about mice. Before now, all I knew was that there were little field mice running all over our property that my dogs love to chase. This scholarphip is VERY important to me. I'm considered to be pretty smart, but I'm not a genius and I'm going to need something really good to stand a chance at this competition. I'm going to be a zoology major in college so I want to base my project on animals and mice are the only animals that I can really use, because my dogs are far too spastic to do anything with and mice are the only pets inexpensive enough for my parents. Not to mention the fact that they are well known for their intelligence and are therefore, fantastic test subjects. Now because of certain details that will prevent me from going with my original plan (being a bazillion miles from any mouse breeder, lacking a knowledgeable vet, and not wanting 100,000 baby mice) I have been endeavoring to attempt another. I know the mouse's intelligence level have been highly tested, so I didn't want to do anything that was exactly like that. Instead I was thinking of pitting outbred mice against inbred mice to see which one was more intelligent (I'm going to test memory, cooperation, and ability to learn). I mean its already been proven that the inbred are genetically weaker, but are they intelligently weaker? That's the question I want to answer, not only because it could be branched out to humans, but also because it does not require a male mouse. So do you think that a project like that stands even a single chance or should I try to search for something more complex. I'm just having a really hard time dealing with our limited resources here. Another question, what are fancy mice considered, inbred or outbred? And furthermore, could you guys suggest a relatively healthy type of inbred mouse, because inbred mice have a tendency for health problems and I really want to have happy little mice. So far the healthiest I've been able to find is the CBA mouse and I might end up going with them because their only marked trait is a tendency for mammary tumors in the older breeders and that's a pretty common problem in mice anyway, or so I've heard. I don't know, I really need this scholarship but all my ideas are just slapping me in the face with another problem.
Please give me some advice, I'm a novice and I need all the help I can get,
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 08:40 PM
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What, exactly, are the scholarship requirements? If I was on the committee, I would be reluctant to encourage in-home animal experimentation. This is not to discourage your involvement in a scholarship process; that's fantastic. I didn't realize from your other post that you weren't in college, and didn't have an animal care and use committee available to you. Do the scholarship rules specifically allow for what you're doing? Please proceed carefully.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 08:46 PM
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How much time do you have to complete this project? I think your idea is good, but how are you going to get inbred vs outbred mice if you do not have a breeder near you? Also, to have legitimate results, you would need a fairly large sample of mice. Using just a few would be considered quite inconclusive, scientifically speaking.

I really admire your taking on this kind of endeavor, so I want to help you out. This could be a great little experiment, but your ideas need some fine tuning. Since you (admittedly) don't know much about mice, I would recommend figuring out how exactly you plan to test them so that we here can tell you how feasible it would be. You should try to outline the experiment in as much detail as possible before you begin.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-29-2008, 10:53 PM
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I saw that your profile said you were from california. If this is true then there are some breeders in that state. I can get the info for you tomorrow or the next day or you can probably google search fancy mice breeders in cali. Also some exotic vets do see mice ask around about exotic vets that see "pocket pets" I think your indea is great and yes I do see it being a good project that does look after the safety of the mice. Also they make mazes at the stores you can see how long it takes each mouse to get use to the mazes and memorize it etc. Also most petstores do have inbred mice esp. if they come from "mill's". But still I would not be positive about thsat. You can also house a few females that are not inbred together and a few females that are inbred. That way the mice do have tank mates and it easuerr to see them in a more "natural inviroment".

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 01:24 PM
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If you're in CA, check with AFRMA for help in finding a mouse breeder

I'd be happy to talk with you further. One of my hobbies is animal training/behavior. I am not a mouse "expert" but I do have a lot of books and resources on the topic.

In order to talk about mouse intelligence and measure it, you first have to qualify it: what does it mean for a mouse to be smart? A question might be: how can you say a wild mouse is smarter (or not) than a pet fancy mouse?

For example: a mouse that runs from a strange new thing -- is he smart to avoid something he doesn't know he can trust (since he's a prey animal)? Or is he too emotional and not smart for not thinking first?

One common problem people have with pet mice is that the mice don't like to be picked up or held. You can condition them to learn to like it, though. An experiment might be deciding how fast you can condition hard-to-catch mice... using different methods, stimulus, etc

Also, google "Rat olympics". One college in the midwest has their students train rats to do different challenges. Why not do something similar with mice?

Speaking of rats, some people brag 'rats are smarter'. Do you agree? WHY? It would be the basis for a really neat research paper. Maybe they're both smart but each evolved for a different niche in their environment.

Also research operant conditioning, classical conditioning, BF Skinner, & clicker training to get more ideas
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 01:37 PM
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Oh i forgot to add-- some people are training their small pets for agility. Here is a neat page to give you some ideas:
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 02:56 PM
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Your ideas sound interesting, but I too wonder how the scholarship committee would view in home animal experiments. College students who conduct animal experiments in the laboratory are required to have their research approved by an animal care committee and a very strict care schedule must be followed. Not saying that you wouldn't take great care of your mice, but if your experiment isn't approved that could pose problems.

One thing you could consider is doing field work rather then direct animal experiments. I did my undergrad research project on the vigilance behavior of wild feeding birds, and did not need to have my research approved by the animal care committee since I didn't have any direct contact with the animals. My major is wildlife biology, and I've interned in a zoo. I was told that experience with field techniques are a great thing to have if your looking to work with wild animals - as often you'll be doing studies that involve learning more about their natural behaviors, rather then laboratory type experiments.

Good luck with whatever you decided to do.

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