|Alston's Brown Mouse|
|Common Name||Alston's Singing Mouse, Short-tailed Singing Mouse, and Singing Mouse|
|Range||Central America, from Chiapas, Mexico, to western Panama.|
The Alston's brown mouse (Scotinomys teguina), also known as the Alston's singing mouse, short-tailed singing mouse, or singing mouse, is a species of brown mouse in the family Cricetidae. It is found in Central America, from Chiapas, Mexico, to western Panama.
This species produces vocalizations in both the sonic and ultrasonic range that are thought to be an important component of its communication behavior.
Alston's brown mouse is small (10–13 grams), with a dark coat, and a short tail. Its underparts are dark gray-brown to orange-brown. The tail is blackish and lightly haired and its feet are black. It also emits a noticeably strong, musky odor.
Alston's brown mouse is predominantly insectivorous, feeding on beetles and other small insects. Additionally, seeds and fruits make up a small portion of its diet.
The Alston's brown mouse is often recognized for its relatively unique vocalization behavior. Both males and females produce vocalizations which are characterized by singing bouts containing both sonic and ultrasonic elements. Male songs tend to be longer than females, but seem to share similar spectral characteristics. Although ultrasonic vocalizations have been demonstrated in numerous rodent species, few display vocalizing bouts as continuous and stereotyped as Scotinomys teguina. Because of their length and complexity, these vocalizations have been described as "song". When singing, the mouse rears on its hind legs and extends its neck, facing upward while producing a stereotypical call of up to 10 seconds. The song is loud, with components audible to humans typically occurring towards the end of the call. The exact function of the singing behavior is not yet well understood, but it is believed to play an important role in social communication. For this reason, a growing interest has emerged in studying Scotinomys teguina in laboratory settings as a potential model for animal language in mammalian species. Stereotypical calls may provide an adaptive mechanism for the localization of conspecifics, and vocalizations in the ultrasonic range are typically inaudible to most predators. Furthermore, some studies have examined the functional role of FOXP2 expression in Scotinomys teguina and other vocalizing rodent species.
Male Alston's singing mice sing to attract mates and to warn off other males of their species from their territories. They react to songs of the related, larger, competing species, the Chiriqui brown mouse (Scotinomys xerampelinus) by silently retreating.