Do pet mice really eat cheese? The answer might surprise you!

White Pet Mouse Eating a Piece of Cheese

Turn on a cartoon or open a children’s book and at some point you will most likely see a mouse nibbling away at a large triangular wedge of cheese.   And how many times have we watched a tv dad baiting a mousetrap with this dairy staple?  Sure, it may be funny, but we never second-guess the validity of the idea.  Truth is, mice don’t eat cheese, in fact, they don’t even really like the taste of it.  

So what’s up with cheese and mice?  Read on….

cartoon mouse trying to eat a big piece of cheese

The Mouse/Cheese Myth

There are so many misconceptions when it comes to mice and cheese.  Here are a few facts we nibbled out of the world wide web to prove to you that mice don’t eat cheese.

It’s a Fact # 1

Mice are omnivores – meaning they eat both protein and vegetation – so in their natural habitat they can find a variety of plants, grains, berries and insects; however, cheese doesn’t normally grow on trees. A recent study done by Dr. David Holmes from the Manchester Metropolitan University sums it up nicely:

“Mice respond to the smell, texture and taste of food [they are likely to encounter in the wild] and cheese is something that would not be available to them in their natural environment.”  

light gray mouse eating a leaf

It’s a Fact # 2

Some cheese is seriously stinky, (like Limburger that has been described as creating a funk compared to raging-B.O. or smelly feet). Building on Dr. Holmes statement, to a sensitive mouse nose (one that doesn’t like stinky smells), with other food options available, the cheese-choice would most likely be declined.

It’s a Fact # 3

According to several sources, the idea of mice eating cheese doesn’t have any solid foundation of evidence; however a popular theory tells us this myth may have been generated thousands-of-years ago when folks were forced to store their food in cupboards.  The meats and grains were wrapped to keep the rodents away, but the cheese, on the other hand, had to “breathe.”  This open-air technique made it very easy for mice to get into this food source. And since they will pretty much eat anything if hungry enough it only makes sense if the meats and grains were covered, the cheese would be better-than-nothing to a starving mouse.

mouse sitting on a piece of plywood

It’s a Fact # 4

Like most animals, mice are lactose-intolerant (allergic to milk and its byproducts ie. cheese).  If a mouse does eat cheese it will most likely develop diarrhea, it may vomit and/or develop an itchy skin rash.  Whether a mouse is smart enough to attribute these symptoms with cheese is yet to be discovered, but for pet mice, avoid the temptation of giving it cheese!

So What Do Pet Mice Dine On?

For some people, the thought of willingly bringing a mouse into the house and feeding it may make their skin crawl, but in all actuality, mice can be a wonderful pet, especially for older children.  

One of the great things about this rodent is it is relatively easy to care for with its dietary needs.

Pre-packaged Food

Every pet retailer carries a pre-packaged food for mice.  This usually contains the basics of what a mouse needs; grains found in barley and millet and proteins such as beans and soy.  Even though this food is convenient (and your mouse can live on it) this little critter needs some added nutrients to keep it thriving.

mouse on his back legs eating food

Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Pet mice enjoy the taste and “crunch” of fresh vegetables.  Tiny portions (about the size of your small fingernail) of fresh broccoli, carrots and celery will provide your mouse with added vitamins, minerals and carbs.  Apples are also a good source of nutrients and also provides your rodent with a nice sweet treat.  In addition to the health-benefits of fruit and vegetables, the teeth of a mouse never stop growing, so chewing on harder substances will help keep them from growing too long.

Protein and Carbs

Like people, mice also need some fresh protein.  This can be in the form of a bit of hard-boiled egg, or peanut butter (on apple).  Mice also need the sugars found in carbohydrates for energy.  Small bits of cooked pasta or even a few crumbs from your morning toast make a nice change from that boring ole retail food.

mouse sitting on a piece of wood

Other Considerations

Like any other animal it is important to have fresh water available for your mouse at all times.  Pet Mountain, offers a great Water bottle specifically designed for mice. The bottle simply latches onto the side of the cage – it’s so easy!  For all you DIY’ers out there, check out the YouTube video below. It demonstrates how to make a homemade water bottle using a recycled plastic bottle and a marble.

As mentioned above, mice can have some people food, but there are some you should avoid.  Acidic foods such as oranges, lemons, onions and garlic can all be toxic to mice  Raw meat and chocolate should also be avoided at this can trigger allergic reactions in your pet, diarrhea and skin irritations.

Even though we have given you all sorts of facts on why mice don’t like cheese, someone should have relayed this information to Roscoe – he seems to be enjoying this creamy snack in the video below.

Now that we have debunked the mouse/cheese myth once-and-for-all we can all sleep a little better knowing the only mouse we are going to catch with cheese is the one found in the cartoons or among the pages of a children’s book.


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