Mice like cheese: True/False?

If cartoon mice have taught us nothing else (and I doubt they have) it is that mice can’t resist a nice bit of cheese, especially if it’s Swiss. But these animated rodents have been blowing smoke in our eyes because mice, on the whole, don’t like cheese at all.

And we should know what mice eat, of course, because at the same time we’re exterminating them by the millions we’re breeding them in prodigious numbers to aid in scientific investigation. That’s a euphemism, of course, to cover all manner of poking, prodding and ultimately sacrificing of tiny mice lives, but then without all that euphemistic investigation we wouldn’t understand half of what we do about biology and medicine.

Mice aren’t too picky, they will eat a wide range of foods in a pinch, but what they really love is cereals. Bird seed is a particular favourite, along with things like oats, wheat and other grains. Even dry cat food is popular because of it‘s cereal content. Cheese and other protein-rich foods are not nearly so appetising to the typical mouse.

But that’s only your middle-of-the-road undiscerning mouse. Just as humans have personal preferences, not all mice have exactly the same taste. Mice have been discovered with an inherited aversion to cereal in places where poisoned bait is commonly used. This probably came about through natural selection — because professional exterminators use cereal baits, mice that stick to the traditional diet end up dead.

A study of cereal averse mice in England showed that they had evolved an inability to properly break down carbohydrates, which would otherwise be a digestive defect. In this case, though, the defect drove mice to avoid the cereals and other foods rich in carbohydrates, including poisoned bait set by exterminators.

Given the choice, mice don’t typically go for cheese. If you’ve got an infestation of your own to deal with (don’t worry, I won’t let on) then peanut butter is often recommended as a good compromise, easy to use with domestic traps. If the rodent intruders don’t go for it then that’s just hard cheese.

Previous Next

You might also like these

Home Browse About Contact Privacy