Skip to main content

Apparently This Matters: Mice actually like the wheel

Turns out mice like to run on the wheel. And then tweet about it. Because they're just as smug as your friends.
Turns out mice like to run on the wheel. And then tweet about it. Because they're just as smug as your friends.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A three-year study proves that mice actually like running on a wheel
  • Researchers put wheels in nature to see if animals would use them of their own free will
  • The study may disprove the notion that captive mice run on wheels due to neurotic behavior

Editor's note: Each week in "Apparently This Matters," CNN's Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

(CNN) -- Have you ever seen a man running in a marathon, bleeding from his nipples?

It's a real thing. It happens.

And it's proof that, unless you are being chased by a bear, running is just a terrible idea.

Because, you know what doesn't lead to nipple bleeding? TV and Doritos.

(Except for one time. But that's a long, complicated story that I can't get into until I've negotiated the movie rights.)

\
"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

That said, many people still insist they run for fun -- that somehow it's pleasurable. And, for some reason, nobody ever questions their sanity.

"Diane, these men in white are here to take you to a special place."

"Oh! Can I bring my Fitbit?"

I would like to say that humans are the only species crazy enough to run because "Ha ha, whee!" but we're not. For example, my dog seems to enjoy it. Though it's also worth noting that Mikey's nickname is Big Stupid.

But other animals seem to truly like it as well. And now we have science to prove it.

In fact, two researchers in the Netherlands recently found that mice actually enjoy running on a wheel.

Just for fun.

Of course, mice have long been used in laboratory exercise studies, and some have questioned whether the results are accurate due to the possibility that, maybe, the mice are just nervously reacting to being held in captivity.

"Steve, this sucks. I'm gonna hit the wheel."

Thus, Johanna Meijer, from the Leiden University Medical Centre, was inspired to see if mice choosing to run was a byproduct of neurotic behavior, or, rather just something they're into.

Which, it turns out, they are.

And it was a fairly easy study to conduct.

Essentially, Meijer left a wheel in her backyard with some food pellets nearby. The mice eventually found the wheel, and then they ran in it. Because they're stupid. And have apparently never heard of Netflix.

\
"Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. I love running. Hold me back, scientist. Hold me back."

Over time, the pellets were removed from the experiment, and the free-range mice continued to hit up the wheel, though less frequently.

For three years, Meijer (along with her colleagues) monitored these mice with infrared motion detectors, collecting 12,000 video clips, and found that even out in the open -- free in the wild where they could literally go nuts and do anything they wanted, including some sort of weird mouse version of Burning Man -- these little creatures seemed to really just enjoy running.

Naturally, I assume that after stepping off the wheel, several of the mice immediately went on Twitter to brag about their workout. They're just as smug as your friends.

"2,000 rotations on the wheel tonight. Gr8 way 2 start the week. #LiveStrong"

But it wasn't specifically a mouse thing. The researchers also observed other stupid animals checking out the wheel, including frogs and slugs. Though not with the same gusto.

Presumably, these slightly smarter animals had a bit of fun with the odd contraption, and chose, ultimately, to wander off somewhere in the woods to get high and listen to old Zappa records.

The study results were published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

So, knowing what we now know, what does it all mean?

For starters, I suppose that, yes, we can, perhaps, feel slightly better about ourselves for basking in the amusement of watching captive mice run on a wheel. It's comforting to know that it's not necessarily stress that's making them run like idiots.

Which is good for both science and the soul. But, beyond that, I'm not exactly sure this changes anything.

\
"Hey, human. What's up with your nipples?"

Hypothesis: Mice are just as stupid as humans.

Because, as we've already established, running is questionably sane. Never mind the bloody nipples. Even worse, going out for a jog sort of means you have to leave the house.

And, in most communities, that requires pants.

Thus, if you need me, I'll be on the sofa watching re-runs of "Law & Order," where the windows are open and the dress code is exceedingly more liberal.

Ask my horrified neighbors.

And I'll celebrate my lack of healthy accomplishment by putting a 26.2 sticker on my car, so everyone knows the number of minutes I got into an episode before passing out with my Doritos.

But at least my nipples won't bleed.

This time.

Follow @JarrettBellini on Twitter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Apparently This Matters...
updated 11:28 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
We all have weird, irrational concerns.
updated 10:25 PM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
"What does this thing do?"
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Despite all the political tension in Crimea, it's nice to know things are still safe enough at the zoo for a zebra to get it on with a donkey.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Justin Sylvester's wife is pregnant. With a baby.
updated 8:10 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
There's a famous scene in the movie "Titanic" where Rose turns to Jack and says, "I want you to draw me like one of your French girls."
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
For several months in 2003, I did the whole European backpacker thing. Which is to say I've seen nearly every cathedral within 1,000 square miles of the Danube.
updated 3:17 PM EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
The other day I saw a death metal band hanging out by their tour van in the parking lot behind a club. They were all dressed in black, and may or may not have been working on lyrics to a new song about fire and lamb meat.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
There are two good reasons to own a giant trampoline.
updated 6:51 PM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
I would love to say my dog is intellectually qualified to be a service animal. But he's not. There's barely enough brainpower there to be a lamp.
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun June 8, 2014
I've never really needed an extra ear.
updated 4:32 PM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
I never actually caught a glimpse of the Tooth Fairy when I was young, but she was definitely real and in cahoots with my mom. This, due to the fact that I never woke up to find a Nintendo.
updated 3:57 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Have you ever seen a man running in a marathon, bleeding from his nipples?
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Fri May 16, 2014
Brace yourselves, because this week's story is about sperm and poop.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
I once stayed at a youth hostel in Copenhagen called Sleep in Heaven. Which sounds quite pleasant until you realize that, apparently, heaven is cold and damp and completely infested with bedbugs.
updated 10:43 AM EDT, Sun May 4, 2014
I'm not a violent man. Short, self-doubting gingers tend not to be the fiercest of creatures.
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
For a long time it feels like we haven't seen much of Ronald McDonald. Not for nothing, but I heard he shanked Grimace in a back alley somewhere down in Mexico.
updated 12:44 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
I haven't had a single Diet Coke in 2014. It was a conscious health decision, and the only real side effect, now, is that the world is awful and I hate everything.
updated 5:20 PM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
The art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting animal skins is called taxidermy, and it can range from classy to creepy depending on whether your subject is a moose, or, say, a homeless drifter.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu May 1, 2014
The July 21, 1969, headline of the New York Times read, "MEN WALK ON MOON."
updated 12:55 PM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
I once uploaded an Instagram of me at Old Navy trying to get all kissy-face with a mannequin. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but she was rather unresponsive.
updated 5:13 PM EST, Fri March 7, 2014
I use a Keurig coffee machine at home because I'm lazy. And, quite frankly, don't feel like I've really done my duty to God and country until I've added a little something to the landfill.
updated 1:38 PM EST, Fri February 28, 2014
I wouldn't necessarily call myself a true germaphobe, but if entering a domestic partnership with a bottle of Purell were legal I'd certainly consider it.
ADVERTISEMENT