# Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/691

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CORRESPONDENCE.

CORRESPONDENCE.

SINGING MICE.

To the Editors of the Popular Science Monthly.

READING the article in your November number from "Nature" on "Singing Mice" recalls my experience with one of these interesting little animals: Some years since, while residing at Santa Fé, New Mexico, one of these vocal mice made its appearance in my house. The sounds were noticed; some time before the animal was seen. As with Mr. Lee's mice, there was a canary-bird in the room, and for a time the notes coming from the wall were attributed to the canary. At last, however, the mouse would come out on the carpet seeking for crumbs, and there sing. The notes were almost identical with those of a canary. It would not trill so long, but in pitch and tone were identical—at least to an unmusical ear. The same filling and throbbing in the throat seen in a bird were also seen in the mouse while he sang. The sound was not sibilant, but strictly canorous with the pitch of an ordinary canary. After this mouse had furnished entertainment for a month to myself and family, I found him so tame I could touch him, and that he was utterly blind. It was very touching to see the gentle little creature turn up its cloudy, sightless eyes to the candle when he was brought near to it on the floor of the dining-room. Small parties would assemble in the evening to hear this wonderful little vocalist without frightening him. He would come out on the carpet with all the confidence and aplomb of an old actor, and delight his hearers. I was afraid to keep him in confinement for fear he would die. Our cat was banished for the same reason, and we would not set any traps for fear he would be caught. Finally, we became so overrun that we had either to commence hostilities or abandon the house. We set a trap in a cupboard in the room, and alas! poor little singing Mus was the very first victim. I found, on examining the body, that he was exceedingly old—so old as to be blind, as I remarked—and his teeth were very long and yellow. The lower ones had grown up above the nostril. The existence of messmates or anything internal I did not verify. As for the theory of this accomplishment being the result of pregnancy, that was eliminated by the sex. I then had an idea that the sounds might have been produced by the air being forced through the long, overgrown gnawers, they acting as a sort of string. The animal was a true mouse. We have here a rat very little larger than a mouse, but it was not one of these. It was identical with the ordinary American mouse, and there was no peculiarity in color or length of ears, as remarked by Lee. This was the only one I ever had an opportunity of examining. The Mexicans, however, say they are not uncommon, and are superstitious about their appearance. My servants were greatly distressed and alarmed at the death of this one: a coincident ill fortune in the family was looked upon as having a plain and sufficient raison d'étre.

 Lewis Kennon, A.M., M.D. Fort Bayard, New Mexico, ${\displaystyle \scriptstyle {\left.{\begin{matrix}\ \\\ \end{matrix}}\right\}\,}}$ January 14, 1879.