What Do Mice Eat? the List of Mouse Food Preferences


Despite what the cartoons might tell you, mice have a much more diverse dietary preference than just cheese. In fact, there isn’t much that mice don’t eat. But here we’re going to outline what we know about mice and their eating preferences.

But first, here’s a quick brief summary, then we’ll discuss it in more detail…

What do mice eat? Mice are generally attracted to aromatic foods with high sugar, fat or protein content. chocolates, peanut butter, vegetation, roaches, fruits, pet food, and all sorts of meat are only some of the things that mice like to eat.

Let’s talk about the whole list. 

Mice have a highly diverse diet. In the wild, mice will eat just about anything they manage to get their little paws on. Trash cans – which are home to an extremely diverse range of items are nothing short of a mouse’s dream pantry.

Although they aren’t exactly picky when it comes to food, or hardly ever turn anything down, they do have some preferences.

For instance, mice do eat vegetation, but they prefer food items with a strong smell. This is where the concept of cheese as a mouse’s preferred food choice was born.

However, it’s important to note that cheese is one of the least preferred food items for mice. They are of course more partial to any form of stinky cheese than other forms of cheese, but even then, it is one of their least favorite choices on the menu.

Different Types of Mice Eat Different Things

Generally speaking, mice are omnivorous creatures that will eat just about anything. In fact, it makes more sense to address the question as to what don’t mice eat as opposed to what do they eat. However, different types of mice have slightly different preferences for food. Let’s try and give you a flavor of what we mean!

House mice, for instance, eat just about anything from food scraps to garden crops. Like urban foxes, they’re used to an urban style of living and can often be found going through trash looking for food. They do have a preference for insects and seeds though.

house mouse
house mouse

Deer mice, on the other hand, prefer food sources such as insects, small animals, seeds, berries, and even their own feces. In turn, deer mice can also find themselves to be preyed upon by snakes. It is worth noting here that it is deer mice that are more likely to have hantavirus. 

Deer Mouse
Deer Mouse

Mice Love Chocolate

When it comes to a mouse’s list of preferred food, chocolate holds a position right at the top. So, if you’re not open to sharing your chocolates, then it is just another reason for you to address any possible mice infestations in your home.

Other Top Favorite Foods

Peanut butter, candy, jelly beans are all some of the top favorite foods of mice. In other words, I think it is safe to say that mice have quite the sweet tooth and are partial to sticky foods.

Besides this, mice also like to eat bird food, cereals, pet food, and other such crumbs and tidbits. This is why homeowners that have children or pets are usually more troubled with mice infestations in their home.

This is because there is a greater chance of there being food scraps such as candy and pet food available for the mice to feast on.

Do Mice Like Their Vegetables?

In the wild, you can expect mice to eat just about any vegetation such as grass, plants, corn, oats, fruits, roots, leaves, and even the bark of trees. This is why – aside from the usual insects and slugs – mice are one of the biggest problems that farmers and people with kitchen gardens have.

Mice and Other Insects

This may sound like the title of a creepy movie, but yes mice do eat other insects especially centipedes, roaches, and crickets to name a few. Deer mice, especially are quite partial towards insects as a food source. 

Mice and Protein

Proteins hold a lot of importance in the animal world, and mice seemed to understand their importance too. They’ll eat any form of protein available. Be it worms, snails, or food crumbs such as bacon or meat. 

An Unconventional Diet

While all of the food choices listed above might not seem too astonishing, they do have a few other dietary preferences that are a lot more unconventional.

For instance, mice are notorious for gnawing on just about anything, and they do it without being particularly worried about whether it actually is food or not. This includes electric wires, wooden boards like wainscotting, your treasured furniture, and plaster too, among other materials.

Also, mice also eat their own feces. Disgusting as this may sound, it is an extremely important component of a mouse’s diet as it helps to keep their gut and digestive system healthy and working properly.

This is because mice are what biologists call ‘caecotrophic’. This means that they produce two different types of feces. One is in the form of soft pellets or ‘caecotroph’.

Mice will eat this form of their poo. This is their bodies’ way of letting them know that the feces are still full of nutrients that haven’t been properly digested yet. The other form of feces is harder and drier. This is devoid of any nutritional value and is not eaten by the mouse.

Are Mice Cannibalistic?

Although mice aren’t usually cannibalistic in nature, they will resort to this too in times of starvation or food scarcity. Female mice might consume their own offspring, and some mice eat their own tails.

However, this is only a rare occurrence and only when food is not to be found at all. But given a mouse’s diverse food preferences and lack of discrimination about what they would or wouldn’t eat, such trying times is an extremely rare occurrence.

A Mouse’s Appetite

Don’t be deceived by a mouse’s petite figure. These little creatures have a big appetite. And what’s worse, mice are also hoarders. What they can’t eat, they put aside for later. So, you can expect them to take whatever food they can get their paws on and store it near their nesting sites. They will then turn to this stored food when they are unable to find other food. 

Here’s a quick list summary of all the foods we’ve mentioned in this article that mice will eat. 

Foods Mice Eat
ChocolatePeanut ButterLeaves
LeavesCockroachesCrickets
Insects in GeneralFruitsPet Food
CornWheatCandy
Jelly BeansBird FoodCereals
Tree BarkGrassPlants
WormsRootsOats
SnailsFecesEach Other

Resources

If you have a full-scale mouse infestation, then you should probably call your local pest control.

But to deter mice around your property outside in a humane way, you can stand a repellant within your grounds. This sonic repellant on Amazon is well priced with good reviews. They’re good options if you live in an area with many kinds of rodents as it will work for most.

Or for a natural look, you could just get this Owl as a natural repellant!

To finish up…

We hope this has been useful in understanding what Mice eat. If you have a mouse at least feeding it is relatively easy, but try to vary its diet. Otherwise, to avoid encouraging mice, as always, keep food stores safely sealed away in containers and up high where Mice cannot get to them …and always clean up. But then I’m sure you already know that!

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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