A Wilder View: Finding out how rodents talk

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MISSOULA – Scientists still haven’t figured out a way to talk to your dog – but they are making great strides in understanding animal communication.

Just like birds, mice are naturally born singers with a variety of vocalizations. There is strong evidence that rodents use high volume voices that serve as a range of communication functions. However, little research has been done due to financial and technological constraints.

But now that AI software is advancing, we are unraveling new secrets and allowing researchers to eavesdrop on these conversations. A program called Deepsqueek takes an audio signal and converts it into an image called a sonogram – much like an ultrasound.

Most rodents produce complex squeaky sequences throughout development and in various social and motivational contexts. Your dog may hear the chatter when you go for a walk, but these squeaks are at a hertz frequency that humans cannot hear.

It was found that the mice in this particular study had 20 unique calls. With 1,300 rodents on earth, understanding their communication will provide immense knowledge about their social life.

You may not be particularly keen on studying rodent communication, but it can open up a whole new world of understanding wildlife communication. So that other researchers can pursue this goal, the Deepsqueak software is open to everyone on github.com.