Watch this incredibly smart mouse play dead to escape the clutches of a hungry house cat.
This mouse is clearly the leader of its species. And we don't think this just because it has survived a deadly encounter with a cat and can thus go on to spread its genes via breeding. No, it not only survived, it survived using its head. And as humanity has proven, surviving with smarts is doing so in the best way possible.
On a video first posted in 2017 that is now making new rounds on the internet, we get a first-hand look at what peak survival of a species looks like.
First, the mouse lies on its back, stiff as a board, in a pose that tells even the most scrupulous observer that it is, in fact, dead. The cat, seemingly convinced that the mouse has passed on and is no longer fit for consumption (or to play with--cats like that too) then walks away. Only then do we learn of the mouse’s subterfuge and that he is actually alive.
It’s almost comical watching the mouse head-fake the cat for a few seconds. The cat looks, sees a dead mouse, looks away, and the mouse lifts its head to observe the cat and see when it’s safe to leave. It’s practically the plot of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
Eventually, the cat moves on but the mouse doesn’t immediately get up to leave. He’s too smart for that. Instead, he peeks his head up a few more times to make sure the cat has actually moved off before he makes his escape.
Our human videographers seem to misinterpret the mouse’s head movements as him trying to actually perform a sit up. “Man, I gotta start workin’ out,” one can be heard commenting, apparently having been fooled just as effectively as the cat.
Playing dead is a relatively common survival tactic in the wild. Also known as “playing possum”, the Virginia opossum is famous for rolling over and playing dead to convince predators to leave. This is mostly due to the fact that the opossum is almost completely without defenses against predators: its claws are blunt, its bite force is insufficient to tear most living hides, and it moves at a pace most humans would call “walking.”
Mice are also known to play dead when all other options have failed. This little one knew when to bust out that move to survive a close encounter with a deadly predator, and so gets to live for another day.