The weird reason why male mice are terrified of bananas

Washington DC – It turns out bananas stress male mice out in the same way lactating female mice do – and there's an odd connection between both.

Scientists discovered that male mice get extremely aggressive in the presence of bananas.
Scientists discovered that male mice get extremely aggressive in the presence of bananas.  © Collage: Daniel Leal & Rodrigo Buendia/AFP

Sometimes, the best scientific findings are discovered unintentionally, like the case of bananas stressing the heck out of male mice.

A study published by Science Advances found that male mice "display stress and stress-induced [pain inhibition] in the close proximity of late-pregnant or lactating female mice."

Because male mice are known to be aggressive towards mice pups, heavily pregnant and lactating female mice emit chemicals to keep the males away in effort to protect their babies.

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One way female mice do this is by "marking" things with their urine.

As it turns out, the compound n-pentyl acetate, which is found in female mice's urine, is also present in various fruits and banana extract.

When the research team bought banana oil extract and placed it inside the cages of male mice, what they encountered was startling.

According to the study, when the male mice came in contact with the extract, their stress levels skyrocketed and rivaled their response when preparing to engage in a fight.

To put it simply, the discovery showed that even without protective female mice, the mere threat of the n-pentyl acetate compound in bananas is enough to stress the hell out of the males.

Though we're not quite sure what to do with this newfound information, it's clear that male mice are not about the banana life.

Cover photo: Collage: Daniel Leal & Rodrigo Buendia/AFP

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