Scientists have just come up with something new, a Mouse Grimace Scale. The title alone clues you in that they had to torture mice to come up with such a scale. It’s exactly what it sounds like, they recorded facial expressions on mice who were undergoing various amounts of pain.
When I think about it I imagine scientists poking full grown male mice in the testicles, again and again, recording that grimace. But that’s a low pain. I’m imagining the highest pain being when a mouse’s back end is shoved in a snake’s cage and the snake chowing down is the moment that the high speed cameras record. Because, after all, the scientists will want to see this life taking grimace again and again. Besides, retakes would be cruel.
I know a few of you are up in arms about this and a few of you are shrugging your shoulders. That snake example says plenty. Some of you know of some snakes who are kept alive on just live mice. Some owners do this despite the availability of frozen, humanely killed mice. In other words this is a very common event. I’m somewhat in the middle. Ideally I don’t like mice being tortured but one alternative is people having to experience more pain if we don’t do experiments on mice. And now that experimenting has come to include torture.
Apparently people can identify the mouse facial expressions 97 percent of the time. Which means that every time it’s necessary to torture a mouse, at least two will have to be so harmed. It’s the way science works.
But let’s take a look at the ultimate mice torturers – cats. Judging how we don’t seem to hold mouse torturing against cats, I don’t think scientists really have to worry about being shunned.
And, indeed, with the Mouse Grimace Scale, when Fluffy captures a mouse we can now say, “Fluffy, I’m letting that mouse go when it reaches a 5 on the Mouse Grimace Scale.” Thank you science.