PURPOSE: Nest building is a time-honored tradition in mice, simply provide them the materials and they will build you a house. The skill is so important that it is used as a marker of healthy aging in a mouse (picture on right from Seldeen et al. 2019 Mech of Aging). However, as humans are larger and have opposable thumbs, this might be an advantage that leads to the production of a finer nest. In this experiment Scientific Ameriken will attempt to best the mouse at their own game - and win! Nest building is a time honored tradition amongst mice

HYPOTHESIS: Mice are pretty good at building nest - but they lack that competitive drive. It is therefore the hypothesis of this experiment that ScientificAmeriKen will prevail.

MATERIALS & METHODS: Nesting material consists of 20 grams of crinkle cut brown paper and one 2 inch by 2 inch cotton nestlet (pictured on right). The mouse and ScientificAmeriKen were both given 24 hours to create the nest. For judging, nest are typically scored on a scale of 1-5 based upon the methodology indicated in (Deacon (2006) Nature Protocols), but for this experiment the best nest was just simply chosen. Additionally the nests were measured in a shake test in which each nest was lifted off the ground and shaken a bit to see what drops.


RESULTS: ScientificAmeriken spent approximately 20 minutes on the construction of the nest - the mouse took overnight. Additionally, in the shake test, no materials dropped from the mouse nest while just a few pieces dropped from the human nest.

CONCLUSIONS: Clearly the mouse built an amazing nest - the intricacies of the interwoven cotton, the symmetry, structure, and density of the nest - all very impressive. Self admittedly ScientificAmeriKen also made a great attempt but found the greatest difficulty while attempting to break down the cotton nestlet. Furthermore, the human nest also barely survived the hold it up in the air and shake it test, whereas this was not an issue with the mouse nest. With the mouse having won this round, ScientificAmeriken will plot other ways to overcome including mazes and if then needed - a 5K race.


Return to the issue cover! Visit the older experiments Learn more about this website All money goes to science! Online store - while you still can! Free subscription to this webzine!