After examining many suggestions by others and stating the number of alternatives that occur to him, he concludes that there is a possibility that all mice are singing mice. His experiments do not show, however, that this odd vocal condition (or whatever else may he the cause of the song) is an inherited character, but that ordinarily their song is pitched too high for the human ear and that only an occasional mouse with an oddly constructed vocal apparatus gives song that is audible.
Prof. Dice was able to study the heredity factor in minute detail in his breeding laboratory and found no combination of mates that would result in offspring capable of even approaching the vocal qualities of their sire. However, he feels that more research is needed before this matter can be finally settled.
So your explorer is forced to conclude that singing house mice are simply unpredictable. A person who doesn’t take the slightest interest in animals, usual or unusual, may wake up some bright morning with a whole family of singing mice twittering cheerfully at the foot of his bed. While someone who would give his eye-teeth to possess one of the rare creatures might spend a lifetime in fruitless search.
Reports of their existence have emanated from every quarter of the globe. In certain countries where song birds are scarce or too expensive for slim purses, singing mice have been kept in cages as songster pets. Travelers in China during the last century told of the value set upon singing mice as pets in that country, and communities in southern France were said to keep them in notable numbers.
However, so far as your explorer knows, no one has succeeded in setting up, side by side, a collection of every type of canary together with a family of singing mice. And if Mrs. Cahall is able to tame her mice and bring about this unprecedented relationship, she will have accomplished something that is not only unique in itself but is of value to scientific knowledge.
Both the Department of Mammals and the Ornithologists of the American Museum would be intensely interested in the possibilities of such a liaison.
If she is successful, it will not be the first time Mrs. Cahall has benefited science. She has been a sort of avian cornucopia for the Central Park Zoo, having contributed over 700 birds of all types for public exhibition.
She has also made a study of bird ailments and has learned to cure many of the diseases she has studied. Although the wife of a physician, she took no special interest in the pathology of birds until such an interest was forced upon her. “I learned to care for sick birds,” said Mrs. Cahall, “because I could find no veterinary to heal my pets when they fell ill.”
It is curious how the various problems that present themselves in the course of pursuing a hobby grow so great that, to solve them, one’s avocation must rapidly become one’s vocation.
Your explorer is wondering to what lengths Mrs. Cahall’s latest hobby, her singing mice, will lead her. He for one is prepared to await developments with the greatest of interest.