Mice and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly or Batman and Robin. You don’t think of one without the other. From cartoons to advertisements, a mouse has to have its cheese… just ask Tom and Jerry! But what if I told you that everything you know about what mice eat may be wrong?
Back in 2006, a scientist named Dr. David Holmes of Manchester Metropolitan University conducted a study on what attracts and repels various animals. In that study, he found that not only are mice NOT attracted to cheese, but they are often repelled by varieties of cheese that have a pungent odor. This means that using cheese on a mouse trap is not likely to succeed! So, how did this myth get started and what should you use to attract mice instead?
No one knows quite how the myth that mice love cheese started, but Dr. Holmes came us with a few theories. First, ancient peoples lived off food that could be preserved and lasted a long time. These included grains, meats, and cheeses. Grains and meats were tightly covered to prevent rodents, but cheese had to be left loosely covered to allow it to “breathe.” Since this was the most accessible food, mice would eat it rather than starve. Perhaps the mouse bites on the cheese led people to believe that cheese was a mouse’s favorite food. Another theory takes the myth way back in history to Greek Mythology. The God, Apollo, was often known as “Apollo the Mouse.” According to legend, Apollo’s son, Aristaeus, taught the world how to produce cheese. Could it be possible that this ancient association between “Mouse” and cheese was passed down through the millennia?
What Do Mice Eat?
We still don’t know how the myth originated, but we do know that it is definitely a myth. Mice will eat anything if they are desperate, but if food is plentiful, they tend to prefer sweeter things like fruits or vegetables. They also like grains and man-made treats like candy or peanut butter. Scientists and pet mouse owners alike will attest to the fact that mice don’t like cheese, and add things like like sweet cereals or chocolate candies to the list of favorites. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you are needing to trap some mice, skip the cheese and try some of these other items.
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