Mice can recognise water depths and will avoid entering deep water

Hiroshi Ueno, Yu Takahashi, Shunsuke Suemitsu, Shinji Murakami, Naoya Kitamura, Kenta Wani, Yosuke Matsumoto, Motoi Okamoto, Takeshi Ishihara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rodents are averse to bodies of water, and this aversion has been exploited in experiments designed to study stress in mice. However, a few studies have elucidated the characteristics of murine water aversion. In this study, we investigated how mice behave in and around areas filled with water. Using variants of the open field test that contained pools of water at corners or sides of the field, we recorded the movements of mice throughout the field under various conditions. When the water was 8 mm deep, the mice explored the water pool regardless of whether an object was placed within it, but when the water was 20 mm deep, the mice were less willing to enter it. When the mice were placed on a dry area surrounded by 3 mm-deep water, they explored the water, but when they were surrounded by 8 mm-deep water, they stayed within the dry area. Our results indicate that mice exhibit exploratory behaviours around water, they can recognise water depths and avoid unacceptably deep water, and their willingness to enter water may be reduced by situational anxiety. Our experimental method could be used to investigate water-related anxiety-like behaviours in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022


  • anxiety-like behaviours
  • mouse
  • phobia
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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