Mice can enter your home through open windows and doors in the summer, but you might be able to ward them off with fruit.
That's right: a new study from McGill University has found that male mice are scared of bananas.
The paper focuses on the chemical signals pregnant or nursing mice send off to defend their young. These chemicals tell other mice to stay away and increase stress hormones.
Scientists identified a few of them, but one chemical - n-pentyl acetate, released in the urine of mama mice - is particularly stressful for males. It's also the chemical responsible for giving bananas their unique smell.
A quick trip to the supermarket revealed that banana oil serves as an equally effective signal to male mice that they should steer clear.
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“What is likely happening is that female mice are signaling to males who might be considering attacking their babies that they will defend them vigorously," co-author Sarah Rosen said in a statement.
"It’s the threat of the possible upcoming fight that causes the stress.”
The authors say the findings provide one example of how mice communicate effectively with one another - and that they do most of their "talking" through smell, rather than squeaks.
"Mice have richer communication with one another than we think; it’s just that a lot of it’s through smell,” said Jeffrey Mogil, a psychology professor at McGill.
Mogil said the recent paper provides a unique example of this.
“There are a number of examples of male-to-female olfactory signaling in rodents, but far fewer examples of female-to-male signaling, especially outside of the realm of sexual behaviour."
The paper is published in the journal Science Advances.
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