Scientists Place Running Wheels in the Wild to Test Animals' Reactions

Posted on May 24, 2014

Running Wheel wild dune set-up

Scientists from Leiden University placed running wheels in the wild to see if mice really do like running on wheels. The scientists placed wheels in two locations, a spacious green urban area and a dune area. A running wheel, motion sensor, night vision camera and a food tray were placed together. Photographs of the set-up are pictured. A research paper on the experiment was published here in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.



The scientists found through observations of the video footage that wild mice ran on the wheels all year long. The activity increased in late spring and reached its highest level in the summer in the urban area. The activity peaked in the fall in the dunes location. The scientists say they removed food at the site and mice continued using the wheel. Frogs and slugs were also recorded using the wheels.

The researchers say in their paper, "Some animals seem to use the wheel unintentionally, but mice and some shrews, rats and frogs were seen to leave the wheel and then enter it again within minutes in order to continue wheel running."

Running Wheel wild urban set-up


Here are videos of a mouse, frog and slug using the wheels the scientists placed in the wild.







Photos: Johanna H. Meijer et. al.