What Do Mice Eat in the Wild?

What comes to mind when you think of a mouse? For many, this is the classic image of a little grey creature with a chunk of yellow cheese in their paws. Or maybe you picture a mouse scurrying around your house, ripping open cereal boxes. Whatever the case, you don’t want mice entering your home or snacking on your groceries.

This is why you should understand what a mouse eats in the wild. It will help you learn how to keep these rodents out of your home.

So, let’s explore what mice eat in the wild and how our homes have become alluring buffets for mice.

Debunking Mice Myths

Before we delve deeper into the feeding habits of mice, let’s start by debunking a few myths about the feeding habits of these squeaky scavengers.

Do Mice Actually Love Cheese?

Mice can and do eat cheese. In fact, they’ll eat almost anything. But cheese isn’t really their favorite food.

Do Mice Eat Cardboard?

You might find some cardboard in your home that’s been chewed up by mice. This might just lead you to the conclusion that mice eat cardboard. But they’re not actually eating it! It’s for their nests.

Do Mice Eat Other Mice?

In times of severe hunger and duress, mice may turn cannibalistic and eat other mice.

What Do Mice Eat in the Wild?

Picky isn’t a word you’d use to describe a mouse. Mice have a surprisingly varied diet and there’s not much a mouse would turn down. They’re natural foragers and happily eat many different foods when in the wild. They do, however, have their tendencies and preferences.

So, what’s on a wild mouse’s menu?

Are Mice Herbivores?

You might think that these little creatures are vegetarians, but actually, they’re not. Mice are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and meat. Mice will eat carrion or meat scraps in the wild.

When it comes to vegetation, mice enjoy a wide variety of plants. Grass and grains, in particular, are staples of the wild mouse diet. They’ll eat any type of plant available, including grass, fruit, corn, nuts, seeds, oats, roots, vegetables, and other plants.

Do Mice Eat Insects?

In the wild, mice will eat many smaller insects as they go about their day. These rodents will also hunt small snails, centipedes, larvae, worms, and crickets to munch on since they provide protein.

Do Mice Eat Roaches?

Sure, a mouse might eat small insects. But what about a big hefty cockroach? The answer is yes. Mice can and will eat roaches as well.

What Do Mice Eat in Homes?

We’ve looked at the natural food sources in the wild mouse’s diet. But what do mice eat when given free rein over a kitchen and pantry?

Just like in the wild, mice won’t turn down much in the house. While mice aren’t picky eaters, they do have their favorite foods. Here’s a list of some of the foods that mice prefer.

Do Mice Eat Cheese?

If you grew up watching cartoons of mice chomping down on a big chunk of Swiss cheese, you might be surprised to learn that mice don’t like cheese more than other foods. That being said, a mouse probably won’t leave a perfectly good chunk of cheese behind. They will still eat any cheese they find.

Do Mice Eat Meat?

Mice are omnivores, meaning they do eat meat. They’ll nibble on leftover meat scraps or eat insects that they find around your home.

Do Mice Eat Pet Food?

If you have pets at home, beware! The food for your dog, cat, and/or bird can be a major temptation for hungry mice.

They’ll happily munch on the seeds and pellets found in many bird seeds. It’s just as likely for them to rummage through dog and cat food that’s been left out or stored in paper bags.

Do Mice Eat Peanut Butter?

Just like many humans, mice have a bit of a sweet tooth. They like chocolate and peanut butter and will have a great time in your candy cupboard. Boxes of cereal are also highly attractive to mice.

How Do Mice Eat?

Mice are investigative creatures, which is a trait that holds true for their eating habits as well. They tend to be very curious about their food, nibbling on many different items they’ve stored rather than feasting on a big chunk of food all at once.

Mice are also hoarders. They love to raid pantries and cupboards and bring their findings back to their nests to save for when food is scarce.

This isn’t only a frustrating thing in and of itself. This food storage will attract other pests like beetles, weevils, and other insects, meaning that a simple mouse infestation can also quickly turn into a full-blown pest problem.

Mice typically won’t eat non-food items. So, if you find chew marks on cables, wires, cords, fabric, boxes, and other items, this is probably because a mouse is building its nest, not eating your stuff.

Keep Wild Mice Wild

Mice may love the welcoming buffet that your home provides them, but you should do everything you can to keep wild mice out of your home. Mice can cause all kinds of issues for you, ranging from damaged food and chewed up wires to the diseases they can carry. So, by eliminating foods that wild mice love (or storing them in mouse-proof containers), you’ll able to keep your home mouse free and keep yourself and your family safe.

7 Comments

Kristen Hill

I am under a full scale invasion by mice. They first arrived 2 yrs ago, grew in number, but then had die-off and subsequent abandonment of the house when me and the dog were gone for 4 mos. However, about 2mos after returning, they showed back up and have had a population explosion!

I am mostly to blame because I see the tiny baby mice searching for food, looking skinny, and being an animal lover, I feed them. (I know, I know, I know…bad, bad bad.) I’ve stopped that bad habit.

Here’s my question/issue for you:
I want to live trap and release caught mice. I want to do this “properly” to try to ensure the least casualties as they transition to outdoor living and loss of easy food sources (cat food, dog food, anything dropped, or accidentally left on the counter, etc.) Do you have suggestions on best practices for a release scenario?

Second, I am afraid of catching a female mouse that has a nest with babies in it. I don’t know how to approach this issue to ensure no babies are left behind to die without their mother. Do you have any suggestions there? Is it possible to tell if a mouse is currently nursing? And if yes, how would I locate her nest?? And even if I could locate it, would she take of her babies if all were released together out in the wild somewhere? Or should I wait until babies are out of the nest to release them all? Maybe keep them in aquarium until that time? Thoughts? Suggestions?

I have to get these mice out of my house asap. They have taken over, and there is no where safe from them anymore. They actually come and sit on top of my feet when I’m still for too long! I guess my feet are warm.
I cant live like this anymore though….they gotta go.

    InsectCop

    You should take a look at our reviews and info on humane mouse traps.

    As for the part about catching a nursing mouse, well, if that’s a concern you have, then there isn’t much help we can offer you. Though, you can try locating any possible nests. Start with looking relatively near to food sources. Check for droppings that might also give you clues on where to look. Also, keep in mind a mouse can get pregnant anywhere between 5 to 10 times per year, meaning, while you’re waiting for the pups to grow up, there might be new ones to wait for.

    Babies will stay with their mom for about 21 days, and mice can start mating soon after giving birth, sometimes birthing the next litter only 25 days after the previous one.

Rita Bulmer

I don’t have mice living in the house but do have them in the garden. My cat used to bring mice in and let them go alive (she’s too old now ) and they would get under and behind the furniture. I set three humane traps along the skirting board, bated with chocolate, and had 100% success rate catching them. Then released them up the lane in a drystone wall.

Georgia Riley

What cute, interesting little creatures. I read this article whilst looking for information about Shrews, as my cat unfortunately brought one home. Obviously, mice are not ideal for cohabiting with! I am so glad to see two comments here wanting to kindly and humanely remove little mice from their homes. There is no room for glue traps and other cruelty on this planet. The animals on this planet have just as much right to be here as we do (perhaps not in our homes though!) and I’m so glad to see the approach people are taking to fix their mouse problem. If only they could take a hint and pack their little bags!

Dawn Mello

I bought a have a heart trap and caught a whole family of mice we kept catching and bringing outside. It is too cold to take them outside now so I bought a mouse house and put them all in there and they are doing fine. They use the wheel, but I think they are trying to run away in it. Come spring they are going far away to live.

Sylvester

A five gallon bucket, 1 gallon of glycol, a yard stick, a pop can with peanut butter on it and a wooden dowel will do the job.
Put the glycol in the bucket, put the pop can through the can over the bucket and a yard stick for Micky to climb into the can. When he gets on the can it will spin and let him take a bath. Then dump them outside when the bucket gets full….

Kaz

I totally understand peoples love and consideration of the little creatures. Having had them as pets and watched them in our shed. I found they had qualities many people could do with more of. They are clever and unless stressed by overpopulation gentle, caring and create strong bonds with each other. And yes the young ones are extra sweet. HOWEVER they do pose a genuine health threat to us and our pets with the diseases (I can assure you 1st hand) they DO carry.

We don’t want them in our house understandably, but in the wild they compete with our already struggling native animals. But it’s because I have a REAL soft spot for them and having seen a few mini break outs with my aviaries that I say this… The most caring thing we can do for them is stop them from breeding up altogether where ever possible, as quick kill traps are the kindest and ONLY way to bring them back under control once numbers build up – as simply popping them outside will see them find their way back EASILY and dropping them elsewhere in an unfamiliar place particularly alone without shelter, a food and water source will almost certainly ensure a scary release and death. They are very aware of being a prey species and need shelter. This why I never let them breed up in numbers as couple become a problem super quick. Lock ANY possible food source up tight. Block entrances into the house (we found they’d worked out how to climb through a tiny gap between the fireplace brick wall and the ceiling and literally scaled the wall up and down). We also keep 1st generation bait in the ceiling now sadly.

I HATE bait, but they’ll nest up there and scavenge food around the neighbors so keeping bait there quickly teaches them it’s not a safe nesting site (although when I can get my hands on snake scat and a shed skin or two from a snake breeder or owner – then I prefer to leave that in the ceiling as a safe deterrent, but it’s hard to get). At least 1st generation bait won’t kill any ones pets or native wildlife that should catch them. Anyway I hope this overly long response (sorry) will be of some use to other like me and those above.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published*