How could the largest animal in the world go crazy after seeing a few centimetres long creature running around? The story of elephants being terrified by mice has been entertaining people for decades – but how much of that is actually true?
An experiment from 1939 held by F. G. Benedict has uncovered the answer. After a couple of elephants were taken to a zoo, researchers introduced mice into their cages. Their reaction? None. In fact, not only did the elephants mind their own business, but they stood still even when the rodents started climbing on their trunks! The only time they got scared was when mice started running between sheets of paper, but apparently it was only due to the sound which was new to them.
Decades later, in 2006, another test was conducted by the trainer Troy Metzler. The team of circus experts took a few white mice and lifted them up close to an elephant’s eyes. Yet again, there was no reaction on behalf of the elephant. Actually, the large creatures often get in touch with stray mice while being held in zoos.
However, there is some truth behind this myth: elephants do get scared easily; it’s just that there are other creatures – even smaller – that can make them lose their mind. Some of them, for instance, are ants.
In order to protect their territory, guardian ants climb on the higher leaves of the trees. If it happens for an elephant to start eating those leaves, the ants make their way up to their nostrils – and that’s how the large creatures ended up being terrified of them.
Generally speaking, elephants are afraid of any kind of sudden noise because of their poor vision. But mice? No.