You may have heard the story that elephants are very scared of mice. This idea is popularized in many children’s cartoons. Of course, in reality it doesn’t sound plausible that an animal weighing up to 10,000 kg (22,000 lbs) could be scared of a creature that weighs a few hundred grams at most. However, let’s take a look at this question and find out if elephants really are scared of mice.
Are elephants scared of mice?
For many scientists, this idea seemed too silly to test. However, in the 2007 season of the popular show MythBusters the show’s hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman decided to test this theory. They hid a mouse under some hollowed out elephant dung that was attached to a string and waited for an elephant to come close. They triggered the dung to flip and reveal the mouse and much to their disbelief the elephant appeared startled and moved away. They repeated the experiment without the mouse and the elephant didn’t react. You can see the famous experiment for yourself in the following video:
This certainly doesn’t prove that elephants are afraid of mice. For example, it could be a natural response from the larger creature to be wary of animals on the ground as they could be a dangerous creature such as a snake. However, we know they are at least cautious around these small creatures!