What is Popcorning in Pet Mice? Happy or Stressed?

Pet mice are sophisticated rodents and they can be rather expressive with many of their behaviors. One of these behaviors is called popcorning. It is when your mouse starts jumping straight in the air from a standing position. These are small jumps that are easy to distinguish from their usual behaviors.

The reason why it is called popcorning is because of this jumping motion. They jump just like popcorn when it is getting ready. Pet mouse owners consider this behavior as cute, but is it really a good sign when your mouse does it?

It turns out it is, and popcorning is a behavior that is characteristic to other rodents as well. They usually do it when they are the most active, which is during the night. Mice are nocturnal creatures so they are going to be the most active while you are asleep.

Popcorning Behavior in Pet Mice

If you are lucky or staying up late, you can observe this behavior on your own pet mouse too. As your pet moves around the cage playfully, he will stop a few times to perform some popcorning. He will stand still and start to perform these little jumps straight up the air.

Mice have an interesting personality which makes it a lot of fun to keep them as pets. They can express stress, gratitude, anger, boredom and excitement in different ways. Popcorning is another way they can express themselves and it means the same no matter which rodent species is performing it.

It appears as a completely random thing they do while being busy with something else. For example, it can happen while they are digging into the bedding or while climbing one of their toys. While it might seem like a random tick of theirs, it is actually a spontaneous expression.

Why are Pet Mice Popcorning?

For pet mice, popcorning is a way to express joy. They only do it when they are absolutely happy and carefree. When they do it, you can see that they are full of energy and usually in a playful mood. You can see them excitedly jumping from one place to the other, playing around and rearranging stuff in the cage.

During the process, you can notice them occasionally jumping up for a split second. There is nothing to be worried about when this happens, as it does not signify any health issue. This way, your pet mouse rather wants to signal that everything is fine and he is in a great mood.

When you see this, you can rest assured that you have a happy mouse that is full of energy. This behavior is completely spontaneous and mice only do it when they feel like it. They are similar to us in this regard, as us humans also tend to express immense joy and an outburst of energy when something good happens.

This behavior only proves that rodents are social animals. In parks, you can notice squirrels doing it as well, given that they are used to humans around them. Other animals that are known for popcorning include cottontail rabbits, deer mice and rats.

How High can Mice Jump when Popcorning?

Don’t expect your mouse to jump particularly high when he performs some popcorning. It is not like preparing popcorn in a frying pan when pieces of it are flying all around the place. Pet mice are usually in a horizontal position when they do it.

You can notice as their head slightly jumps up with their whole body for a split second. This motion barely lifts their paws up from the ground. We can barely call it a jump. It is more like a short-lasting sudden movement that would be labeled as a motor tick if people would do something similar.

The only difference is that people do it because they are nervous or stressed, while mice do it out of pure joy.

How to Make Your Pet Mice Popcorn?

First off, you need to take good care of your mouse. A pet mouse that is kept on a healthy diet has a spacey and clean cage and toys to play with has a high chance to perform some popcorning. It is important for them to have enough to eat and to have stuff to do in the cage in general.

If your pet mouse has the opportunity to exercise daily and plenty of toys to play with, then popcorning is pretty much inevitable. In case you have never seen your mouse perform such an activity, then it might be a good idea to buy some new toys.

Surprise your pet with something new and he is going to appreciate it for sure. Your mouse might do it if there is a strong connection between the two of you. That is, if you handle and pet him daily or feed him from your hand. Either way, pet mice usually perform this behavior in front of someone that regularly takes care of him.

This can also make it a lot harder to show off some popcorning in front of your friends.

Wrapping Up

Popcorning is simply a way for pet mice to express their joy in front of their caretaker. However, if you have never seen this behavior before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your mouse is depressed. Pet mice can be pretty happy even if they don’t feel like popcorning.

If you have just got a new pet mouse, then popcorning might be too much to expect of him. Mice need to get accustomed to the new environment you put them in. At first, they don’t consider it as their home. They even feel stressed at the beginning, as they don’t know what to expect.

Out in the wild, there are many dangers to be aware of. Many other animals are considered as predators of them and they are very careful about new environments. At first, they just want to explore and make themselves comfortable, confirming that there is nothing to worry about.

Then, if you take good care of them and let them get used to your presence, you may be able to see some popcorning as well.

Pet Mice   Rodents   Updated: September 9, 2021
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.
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