Do mice love cheese? Do they only live in dirty homes? Take a look to learn what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to these whiskered rodents.
Do mice love cheese? Do they only live in dirty homes? Is it normal to have mice in your house? Take a look to learn what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to these whiskered rodents.
Over the years, popular culture has painted a picture of mice as clever little rodents who get their kicks tricking housecats and gorging on bright yellow cheese. In addition, cartoons have given the impression that mice are always scaring people or lounging in tiny recliners behind their little mouse hole doors in your wall.
But just how many of these tidbits are true? Let’s take a minute to separate mouse fact from fiction.
CHEESE IS A MOUSE'S FAVORITE FOOD
Will a mouse eat cheese? Sure. Mice are foragers, so they’ll pretty much take whatever they can get their tiny feet on. In fact, if food is really hard to find, they’ll even eat other mice. Eek!
However, if you could understand their squeaking, they’d tell you that, like humans, they enjoy a variety of foods including carbohydrates, fats and proteins. So while they may eat cheese, it’s by no means their favorite food. And if you keep food out in the kitchen or don’t clean up spills and crumbs, you increase your chances of attracting mice with an all-you-can-eat buffet of sorts.
BATS ARE FLYING MICE
Bats are no more mice with wings than sharks are dolphins with really sharp teeth. In fact, bats aren’t even rodents. They belong to an order of mammals called Chiroptera, whereas mice belong to the order Rodentia. And, fun fact, bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. As you can see, aside from being mammals, bats and mice don’t have that much in common at all.
MICE HAVE HOLLOW BONES
Mice are known for being able to squeeze through some pretty tight spaces. Somewhere along the line, this started the myth that they have hollow bones. They don’t. Like us, mice are vertebrate mammals with musculoskeletal systems. Unlike humans, however, mice do not have collarbones. Because of this, they are easily able to make their way through small cracks and crannies that you may have throughout your home.
MICE ARE DOCILE
Fact and Fiction
You’re probably familiar with the expression “timid as a mouse.” But are mice really timid? Well, yes and no. Mice can definitely become aggressive towards one another when it comes to mating or protecting their territory. However, they can sometimes turn their aggression on humans.
Typically, a mouse will avoid contact with humans and will run away if possible. However, if you back a mouse into a corner, it may get aggressive as a means of defending itself. Because of this—and the fact that wild mice and rats can spread over 35 diseases—you should never try to handle a wild mouse.
MICE ARE NOCTURNAL
Mice are nocturnal animals, which means they prefer to search for food at night. If you’re hearing weird squeaks, rustling or gnawing once the sun has set, this could be an indication that you have a mouse problem.
However, that doesn’t mean mice never come out during the day. They just prefer to forage at night. If you do see a mouse in the daytime, it could be an indication of a major infestation. That means you might want to start thinking of ways to control mice.
MICE LIVE IN DIRTY HOMES
Fact and Fiction
Mice are more interested in having a reliable food source than they are cleanliness. And an unkempt home may offer them easier access to food — think crumbs and food spills — or nesting materials.
That being said, they won’t turn their little noses up at a clean house either. So while being an avid housekeeper may create a less desirable habitat for mice, it doesn’t mean they won’t ever move in.
MICE LIVE ALONE
Cartoons typically depict mice as living solo in little homes with mouse-sized armchairs, throw rugs and pictures on the walls. Clearly, mice don’t have tiny furniture and décor, as cute as it may be to imagine. But they also don’t live alone.
While mice out in open fields may keep to themselves, Both outdoor mice and house mice tend to live in groups. What’s more is the fact that mice breed frequently and give birth to litters of six to eight — on average — up to 10 times a year. So if you see one mouse in your home, chances are good that there are many others.
A CAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO PREVENT MICE
Cats are natural hunters, so there’s no doubt that most house cats will absolutely catch mice if they find them. However, adopting a cat to control mice is not a good idea for several reasons.
For starters, many people think that mice will be deterred by the sheer fact that a cat is present. If this were the case, you’d never hear of cats catching mice. Additionally, mice can transmit diseases, parasites or the toxins from poisoned bait traps to Mittens and make him very ill. Finally, if you see one mouse in your home, there’s a solid chance that there are many more hiding nearby. Your cat isn’t going to be able to control this number of mice, regardless of how good a hunter it is.
When it comes to mice, there’s one universal truth: Unless they’re pets you keep in a cage, you don’t want them in the house. If you think you have a problem with critters in your home, our trained technicians can help you create a plan customized to control mice and other rodents.
University of Kentucky Entomology
Ask a Biologist
Center for Disease Control