Mice Love Cheese: Myth or Reality?

The mouse

Many of us have in mind the idea that you can attract mice with cheese. Those who have tested it know very well what it really is: mice don’t like cheese more than any other food. She would only eat it as a last resort. We tell you why.

The mouse diet

In nature, mice are omnivorous. These never live far from humans, their diet has evolved in contact with them. They have adapted and developed an opportunistic behavior: they eat what they can find. And they are far from being difficult! So one can wonder if they would not like cheese after all.

Their diet differs depending on their environment. In rural areas, mice eat mainly plants: stems, leaves, grains and seeds, fruits and roots. Some mice also eat small crickets, beetles or butterflies.

In captivity only, and placed in starvation situations, mice can eat the corpses of their dead counterparts, kill weaker mice and feed on them, and even eat their own tails. However, mice do not eat just any other mouse. When they grow up together, their bonds are strong and they fight less with each other. A mouse that has given birth, if stressed or weak, can certainly eat its own young. This remains exceptional and in normal and peaceful times, a mouse will nurse the young of another mother much more often.

In cities, mice are especially attracted by the richness and diversity of our waste, which also constitutes easy sources of supply. A mouse will eat cardboard more easily than resorting to cannibalism.

The origin of the myth of cheese to attract mice

It’s very likely that the misconception that cheese attracts mice dates back to times when the refrigerator did not exist. Food storage was organized differently, with a different compartmentalization: the meat was hung to be kept out of the reach of any animal, the cereals were carefully enclosed in airtight bags. The cheese was left in the open during the ripening phases, and was therefore easy to access, especially for the mice who ate what was most accessible. However, this observation was far from constituting a scientific approach. Recent and rigorous experiments reveal other food preferences.

Mice are actually much more attracted to high carbohydrate foods : this is what a study carried out in 2006 by Manchester Metropolitan University showed. A house mouse can eat many vegetables but will prefer the crunchier ones like celery, carrot and broccoli. Because as a rodent, a mouse instinctively seeks food capable of wearing down its teeth properly. The diet of the mouse includes fruits. And the food that seems to have their preference is peanut because hard and particularly energetic.

The smell of mice is a highly developed sense. This leads them to reject foods that are too fragrant. Cheese, in any case, that which is generally accessible to mice, and therefore that placed outside the refrigerators, is particularly so. It is therefore not a food that the mouse will favor. But as omnivores, they are quite capable of eating it, provided they have no other choice.

Trap mice, or better: not attract them

Anyone who really knows mice knows that the best bait is made, not from cheese, but from peanut butter. Its sugar level is high enough to satisfy a mouse’s taste buds. In addition, its smell is sweet enough not to repel the animal. On the trap side, the advantage of peanut butter is to stick and therefore to sufficiently retain the animal until the trap engages.

But rather than killing mice, your best bet is probably not to attract them.

The disorder particularly appeals to them because it offers them ideal hiding places to set up nests. A tidy cellar, garage or attic will therefore be less attractive places for mice. You have to get rid of cupboards full of old clothes, old paper or old cardboard boxes which are all attractive places for a mouse. Clean and disinfected places keep rodents at bay.

You should also store your food in airtight boxes and tightly closed cupboards. Garbage cans should be placed in lidded containers, no crumbs or leftovers should lie on tables, kitchen countertops or floors.

Finally, since you know that mice have a strong sense of smell and that strong smells can repel them, know that pepper, bay leaves and mint will make excellent natural repellents. The essence of peppermint sprayed in the cellar, cupboards, door sills, will effectively complete your cleaning and storage. And bay leaves will naturally take their place in your pantry.