What Do Mice Eat? Exploring A Mouse's Diet
Imagine a typical morning. You get up and sleepily sip coffee while putting together your breakfast. You open up a new box of cereal just as you have a million times in the past. But this time something's different. There seems to be a lot less cereal in the box. And as you stare into the container you notice the beady eyes of a mouse staring back. It's an unsettling idea to dwell on. But it's also a far more common occurrence than you might imagine.
Mice take up residence in people's homes for a variety of different reasons. But once they're in a home a mouse will start to discover a whole host of new food options, and their teeth are perfectly adapted to chew through almost any food packaging they encounter. This is often how people discover that they have a rodent infestation in the first place. It's quite easy to notice a rodent's been eating your food long before actually catching sight of the animal. If you don't notice what they've eaten, you'll probably still begin to notice their droppings.
Of course, the ideal plan is to stay alert to uninvited rodents before they can make their presence so obvious. One of the best ways to do so is by understanding what mice like to eat. A mouse will often make a quick dash for their favorite foods when they enter into a new area. By staying alert you can often stop rodents before they have a chance to really make themselves at home within your house. So what does a mouse consider particularly delicious?
What Does a Mouse Eat in the Wild?
A mouse living out in the wild doesn't have a lot of culinary options. They're technically omnivores who can eat both meat and plants. However, the tiny rodents aren't anyone's idea of an apex predator. If a mouse hunts down another animal it will typically be a tiny invertebrate. Some of a mouse's favorite prey include centipedes, snails, slugs and worms. They'll also eat carrion on occasion.
One interesting point is that many of these creatures are harmful to humans. A centipede's sting is painful enough to hurt people. Snails can wreak havoc on a garden, and slugs often damage plants while they're still in a seedling stage of growth. A mouse in the wild may well offer a few benefits to homeowners by participating in the local food chain.
A wild mouse, for the most part, will usually focus scavenging on seeds. While a mouse can eat meat and plants, they're most interested in grains and acorns. A mouse with access to a wide variety of trees to scavenge from will typically be able to hoard enough food to live on through the colder winter months.
This type of hoarding behavior can sometimes cause an issue in home gardens though. A mouse can be beneficial to some gardens by eating pests such as snails, but at the same time a mouse can also damage plants if he takes an interest in them. A mouse will usually be drawn in by sunflowers and corn. The main reason once again comes down to their love of seeds.
A mouse is just as eager to eat sunflower seeds as humans are. The difference is that a mouse will happily destroy the plant while trying to get at the seeds. But what about a mouse's taste when he makes his way into your home?
A House Mouse and Their New Diet
A mouse entering into a home for the first time will sample just about anything he can. But there's a few foods which are almost always going to draw their attention. Chocolate is probably at the very top of the list. However, they have some specific preferences for their candy. A mouse prefers chocolate to be high in dairy and low in cocoa, and your baker's chocolate may well go totally uneaten even if placed right next to a mouse's nest.
In general, a mouse's next favorite choice will be carbs. This makes a lot of sense if you've ever seen a rodent making a rapid dash for safety. When a mouse decides to run, they really need to go fast. As such it makes sense that they'd love to sample foods heavy in carbohydrates.
As noted earlier, a house mouse will often take a particular liking to cereals. They also love processed grains in a home just as much as they would unprocessed grains in the wild. If you have bags of rice, you can expect an invading mouse to sample from it. Interestingly, one of a mouse's all time favorites is something they would never find in nature. A mouse will usually prefer peanut butter to almost any food other than chocolate.
Your Home Is a Mouse’s Favorite Buffet
A mouse will generally enjoy treating your home like a salad bar or buffet. A mouse with unlimited access to different types of food will generally sample over twenty of them in a single night.
The continual search for food will usually make a mouse's presence felt fairly quickly. This is even more the case if a mouse starts to reproduce. Imagine one male and female mouse find their way into your home. This would equal out to around forty attempts to try different foods per night. But now imagine that they produce a litter.
A mouse can give birth to as many as fourteen pups. These offspring only need about four to six weeks to grow into adulthood. Within a four week period you could see forty food grabs per night turn into three hundred and twenty.
This should also make it clear why people tend to see holes chewed in food containers after a mouse appears. The average mouse is intensely curious about his food options. And the number of mice in a house can grow at a shockingly fast pace.
It's hard to imagine that there's a positive side to this type of scavenging behavior. But it actually makes a mouse much easier to deal with in a lot of ways. A mouse which found a single bag of rice, ate his fill, and then hid would be quite difficult to track down. But a mouse which eats a little bit of rice and then wanders around looking for new tastes to enjoy can be spotted a lot easier.
Understanding a Mouse’s Tastes Can Help You Deal With It
Furthermore a mouse's curiosity about new foods can make rodent control a lot easier. An automatic mouse trap setup will often make use of both lures and taster cards. This combination will ensure that any given mouse's curiosity will be piqued.
We've seen that a mouse has some favorite foods. While a mouse might not stop to eat at a mouse trap all night, he also doesn't need to. The mouse's curiosity and scavenging behavior means that he's always going to search out his favorite tastes if they're available. And that's usually the case even for a sated mouse. By the time a mouse investigates a lure, the trap will have already done its job.
Speed Is As Important for You As It Is for a Mouse
Anyone who's surveyed the damage caused by a mouse can attest to how quickly the rodents get around. As noted, earlier a mouse doesn't just run fast either. A mouse will also reproduce and grow at an equally rapid pace.
All of this means that speed is also essential when dealing with a mouse problem. Rodent control for a mouse problem should put heavy emphasis on food. You should first try to remove as much food as possible from the rodent's reach. Next, set up high quality traps in areas where you've found evidence of a mouse's late night feasts.
If you act quickly enough you can usually stop a mouse problem before the rodents have a chance to start reproducing. This is the ideal way to go about it when possible. As we've seen, a mouse's impact to your home escalates as the number of mouths increases. One mouse can cause a lot of damage. But an entire family of them is best avoided if at all possible.