Are elephants actually scared of mice?


| 7 Comments
I don't know about all of you, but I've heard the myth that elephants are scared of mice many times in my life and I've always wondered, how can it be true? How can a creature the size of an elephant really be scared of a creature the size of a mouse? Is it a myth? Or are elephants actually scared of mice?

Well, MythBusters checked into this question a little bit more and did an experiment to find out what exactly was true. They traveled to Cape Town, South Africa to set some mice lose and see what happened. Jamie and Adam, the MythBusters team, slipped the mice into tiny holes into the ground and covered them with elephant dung. To their surprise, when an elephant came over and removed the dung that was covering the hole and saw the mouse, it stopped in its tracks and started moving away quickly in the other direction.  

Just like in class, I thought maybe there was another possible reason why the elephant reacted that way and it didn't have to necessarily be because of the mice. Apparently Jamie and Adam thought the same way I did so they decided to do another experiment to make sure what they were seeing was really because of the mice. They figured the reason the elephants reacted like they did was because of the dung. Therefore, they placed the dung over empty little holes to see if the dung was the actual cause of the reaction. Again to their surprise, the elephants had no reaction when they moved the dung away from the holes this time leading them to believe that the mice were actually what scared the elephant.

I know many of you still might not believe me, and I didn't want to believe it at first either, but a big creature, the elephant is actually scared of a small creature, a mouse.

If anyone is interested, here is the youtube clip of the actual MythBusters episode.

7 Comments

Wow I would never think that an elepphant would be scared of a mouse. Idk maybe the elephants ran because they just didnt expect for something to pop out the whole. It could have been anything that poped out and would had cause them to run.

Wow I would never think that an elepphant would be scared of a mouse. Idk maybe the elephants ran because they just didnt expect for something to pop out the whole. It could have been anything that poped out and would had cause them to run.

I watched the video and was just as amazed. I wonder what it is about the mouse that makes the elephant become startled.
I think it would have to do with either:
1) Color of the mouse- I don't think there are a lot of white animals in the habitats that elephants live. This could make the mouse appear startling to the elephant.
2) Sounds that the mouse make. This could mean that the elephants have ears more sensitive to higher pitches.
OR 3) The fact that the mice stay around the elephant. I doubt that there are many animals that want to stay by an elephant’s feet. I'm sure most animals run away when they feel the elephants coming for fear of being squished. Maybe the elephants see the mouse as presenting a fight when they do not run away.

Or could this discovery be due to the fact that the elephant does not want to dirty its feet with animal guts? Think about how you feel when you step on something icky barefoot. Maybe elephants feel the same way. After all…an elephant never forgets.

I know when I was little I believed that elephants were scared of mice, but as I grew up I didn't believe it anymore. It's so funny and interesting that elephants are scared of mice, the video clip was very reassuring. I wonder if elephants have similar emotions then to humans, since we can be frightened by mice and little insects. Though just know I did find a short article on ABX News. that they tested this theory and the elephants weren't scared at all by the mice. I wonder if it has to do with the type of mice or type of elephant. Maybe only some elephants are fearful of mice and others have learned not to be bothered by them. I'm looking forward to researching more on this topic. Great Job!

I kind of wonder what would have happened if they didn't put a mouse under the elephant poo and still "flipped the burger" with nothing under it. Maybe simply the movement caused the elephant to spook?

I'm still a little skeptical. I don't think it's fair to just say that elephants are definitely afraid of mice based on the video.

Maybe just these particular elephants are afraid of mice?

Also, I felt like they could've tried to do the experiment a few more times, perhaps in a different way. Though it may be unrealistic, I feel like the best way to truly decide if elephants are afraid of mice would be to put both animals in an enclosed area and see what happens.

I am still a bit skeptical as well even though the experiment clearly showed the elephants backing away from the mice. I agree with Amy in thinking that there could be other possible reasons of why the elephants are spooked. I'm definitely going to need to look more into this research.

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