Although, most of us believe that the favorite food of mice is cheese, the reality is, that mice don’t like cheese. In fact, some cheese types, which have a really strong and rich smell, will be ignored by most mice.
Truth Behind The Myth
The myth that mice like cheese comes from old days when cheese was often left out at night. It became the easiest thing for mice to get so people would constantly see mice eating it.
Stealing a few morsels from a bag of grains leaves little evidence in many cases, while biting into a hunk of cheese leaves behind tell-tale teeth marks. This evidence may have spurred the idea that mice love cheese, even if they were actually only eating the cheese because it happened to be accessible.
There is also some evidence that the Greek God Apollo was sometimes called ‘Apollo Smintheus’ or Apollo the Mouse. As Hinsky describes in his article, Apollo’s child, Aristaeus, is described in Greek mythology as having taught the world how to produce cheese. Perhaps, early cartoonists used images from Greek Mythology for inspiration
The Natural Diet
Like all mammals, mice feed their young milk. Since cheese is a milk product, it seems reasonable for mice to eat it, and they sometimes do. But cheese is essentially milk gone bad, and most animals instinctively avoid spoiled foods.
Mice have a well-developed sense of smell, so cheese’s pungent odor may warn them to avoid it in favor of fresher, more wholesome foods. In the wild, mice subsist primarily on grains, seeds, fruits, vegetables and insects, and they will likely seek those first in the pantry, as well.
So What Does The Mice Really Likes?
Think sweet! Mice prefer to dine on sugary foods, including fruit, grains or even chocolate if it’s available. [source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]. If you’re trying to bait a mousetrap, a little something sweet will almost always provide greater success than even the finest variety of cheese. The discerning mouse is likely to turn his nose up when offered cheese thanks to its not-so-subtle odor and flavor.
Avoid Feeding Cheese to Pet Mice
If you want to keep your pet mice healthy, you should avoid feeding them any type of cheese. Pet mice and wild mice, in general, will pretty much eat anything if they are hungry.
So if you feed them cheese, they most likely eat it, but that doesn’t mean that they love it.
Mice prefer to eat grains, fruits, vegetables and sweet food, which are high in calories. If these food types are available for them, mice will pretty much ignore cheese.
What is the Best Bait for a Mouse Trap?
Mice will eat just about anything, from foamy insulation to food from your pantry. That does include cheese, but cheese isn’t a mouse’s favorite food. That said, they do like some foods more than others.
As it turns out, many species of mice in the Austin area seem to be attracted to sweets! Our customers have seen more success with foods like chocolate candy, peanut butter, or hazelnut spreads for mouse bait, rather than cheese.
Bread-based products also make good bait for mice. You might try a little leftover bread with some peanut butter on it to bait your trap.
There are several natural substances that mice dislike so much that they will stay away from the area. You can soak cotton balls in a cayenne pepper solution with clove oil or peppermint, or both, and place them around known mouse infestations.
You can place little sachets of cayenne pepper and the essential oils of peppermint and clove under or inside areas where mice frequent. This is just as effective as the cotton ball method.
For outbuildings, try 1 tbsp. of Tabasco sauce mixed with 1 gallon of water, then add in 1/2 cup of dish detergent. This mixture can be sprayed inside or outside around floorboards, window frames, or any other area where mice are coming in.
If all else fails, you can try some of the new electronic mouse repellents on the market. They emit a sound frequency that mice cannot tolerate. The sound penetrates through walls and cupboards and can offer full coverage of your house.
They are very easy to use and are supposed to repel virtually any type of rodent that may come into your house. If you have hamsters or gerbils as pets, remember they are also rodents and the sounds will affect them, also.