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What Do Wild Mice Eat

Summary: When asking, “What do wild mice eat?” the answer is simple. They eat everything that humans and their domestic pets eat and more. Just look in your pantry after an invasion of mice and you will discover their menu is wide and varied.

There are so many misconceptions pest management professionals hear about rodents. One of the biggest mysteries to non-professionals is what do wild mice eat. We see mice running from trash dumpsters and think, “Yuk! Dirty mice.”

If we could actually see inside that dumpster we would discover something we would think would be entirely out of character for a rat or mouse. We would discover that rodent being very discerning about the food it is dining upon. It's true! No self-respecting rodent would consider eating a morsel of food that


has gone bad. The lowly rodent turns out to be a connoisseur of fresh, clean foods. Funny how that works! We see a mouse or rat and think “filth”, while that same rodent is rejecting anything that fails its freshness test.

When you think about garbage you think of waste or something that has been rejected. In reality, and we all know this, humans are wasteful. We discard containers of food that still have edible residue on the sides. We throw away half-eaten sandwiches because we are full. We toss out a banana because it is too ripe. We don't eat apple cores. We peel potatoes, carrots, apples and so many other foods, throwing perfectly edible items in our garbage. I could easily fill this page with foods that we toss out that is fresh, clean and nutritious.

I think you may be starting to get the picture about what wild mice eat. The answer is right in front of you. They eat everything and anything. Sure, they have their favorites, but mice will nibble on a wide variety of foods, tasting a little here and there. Rats, on the other hand are a lot more picky and suspicious. They will take a small taste of something, and then leave it alone. They do this to see if a new food will make them sick. Once they have digested the sample successfully they will return and gorge on that particular food.

Understanding the differences in what and how mice and rats eat is partially how professionals determine what type animal is infesting a location. Understanding a rodent's eating habits can answer the customer's question, “Is it a rat or a mouse?” People are way more fearful of rats than they are of mice.

When a mouse gains entry into a house, its sensitive nose leads it to the kitchen pantry where a large selection of easily attainable foods is available. The pantry is a supply of nuts, grains, dried fruits and lots of paper for nesting. If the home has pets the bagged pet food becomes a target. Pet food is often kept in the garage where entry under a garage door is fairly easy for a mouse. They can gain entry through a hole the size of a dime which means most


garages are accessible. The protein in dog food is a wonderful food source for mice. It's so good, in fact, that is it not uncommon for mice to build their nests right inside a fifty pound bag of dog chow. Nesting materials supplied by the paper bag and the mouse is surrounded by a food supply. What a life!

Mice are more likely to live inside a house and get along nicely on the foods in the kitchen. Their water requirement is way less than a rat's, with much of their water needs being fulfilled by the moisture contained in the food they eat. A rat needs a more plentiful supply of water, so it needs to nest in an area where water pools on the flood or near other water sources.

So, what do wild mice eat? Anything they can get their little choppers on.


Andrea Papke
12 Dec 2011, 21:19
About the glue trap- I'm an Apartment Manager & called an animal trapper here to get rid of a gopher. He said the Regular Mouse traps are better or even poison than the glue traps. When they get stuck in a glue trap they will eat themselves to get free. You can safely trap a skunk or a possum w/ a cage. The skunk may spray so you have to put a blanket over the cage after it's caught. Then you can drop it off at the Madrona Marsh or call someome to help you. But if you catch an animal you have to attend to it. You can't let it sit in the cage in hot sun without food and water. I would never use the glue traps. I had a bunny and a rat as a kid and they do have feelings.
Ask the Exterminator
12 Dec 2011, 22:04
Micheal: Mice eat fresh, clean food. They will eat fresh insects, too. The paper they chew on is for their nests.
27 Dec 2011, 21:19
We usually get mice this time of year and trap them with a glue trap. Recently we found that looks like a small nut, never seen it before. Could the mice be bringing them into the house? I can find out where hey are getting in from out side, any tips?
Andrea Papke
28 Dec 2011, 09:51
For the person having a hard time traping the mice. You can set the wood traps up against the wall. But somtime it doesn't work. You can by a tapping cage w/food but even this is difficult- way more difficult for the rate.

I've had success w/trap for skunks & possums, but not rats and mice.

The only way I got rid of the mice is/ with bait poison. I felt fad but the trap failed & I couln't risk a tenant being injured. In Israel they are studying rats. If a trapped rat is in an compartment- they will free it 1st then eat a treat with them. I also noted my pet rat when I was 5 five mesmerized my house. Same with my bunny. He'd eat marigolds- but not Oleaneder. The rodent family is intelligent as proved by Israel's lab.
Ask the Exterminator
29 Dec 2011, 14:19
Here's a link to an article about how to stop mice from getting inside:
21 Feb 2012, 18:40
Hi Exterminator,
I just started defrosting some gumbo I had in my freezer and noticed that the bag was leaking pretty badly (we store our frozen food in ziploc bags when possible for easy stacking) and threw the bag out. Grabbed another bag of gumbo and saw what appear to be bite marks on that bag too. This seems like an outlandish question to me, but is it possible for mice to get in the freezer? Thanks!
Ask the Exterminator
22 Feb 2012, 14:19
Mice usually pick warmer environments, but it is not impossible for them to survive in cold surroundings. I advise emptying the freezer and looking for an access hole.
26 Apr 2012, 04:18
Hi, My kids have pet mice. Originally we started raising them to feed snakes. I thought it was a mistake, I felt like they'd emphasize too much with the mice, &* guess what? Mom knows best. They do emphasize, they won't kill them, there are over 100 of them. abotu 4 have gotten loose in the house, so kill-traps are absolutely out. I might be Mom, I might be the last word, I might be right, but the kill traps seem to mysteriously disapear, & if they are EVER seen again, they are usually in many pieces.

is there a brand od live humane trap, so I can catch the little mouse Bastar...brats I mean?
19 Jun 2012, 17:39
I caught a mouse with a really long tail. I want to try to take care of it. What kind is it and what should I feed it?
Don Brady
27 Jun 2012, 10:29
Will mice eat whole wheat flour and butter flavored powder seasoning? And if so why can I not find any droppings? Thanks for helping.
Ask the Exterminator
27 Jun 2012, 12:16
Mice will eat almost anything. Don't know why you are not finding droppings. Are you sure it's mice?
02 Aug 2012, 13:34
hey i found a mouse and i want to trap it so i could but it outside but it wont come out what should i do
03 Aug 2012, 01:50
hi... i have a mouse problem at my house.. this little mouse is nuts... literally... it dodges traps.... eats steal wool... bites my dog... runs around in my walls.. what do i do to make him come out and stay out... we have already figured out his diet... tortillas... told you.. nuts... my mom and i are about to go insane along with our dogs...
a desperate girl...
Kim G
27 Sep 2012, 21:54

I have mice in my basement. I have never seen them, but I can smell their droppings, and see other evidence like shredded paper, etc.

There's no food down there, but until recently the basement was full of spiders and other creepy-crawlies. About a week ago, I decided to fumigate with "Raid Fumigator," which contains permethrin as the active ingredient.

Now all the bugs are gone, but I'm wondering two things. First, would the permethrin have likely either killed or driven out the mice? And second, with no more bugs down there (hence nothing to eat) will they likely abandon the basement on their own?


Kim G
Boston, MA
P.S. It's hysterical all the commenters who want your help raising mice. you noted above, it's your job to kill them.
Ask the Exterminator
28 Sep 2012, 15:50
The mice are not leaving on their own, but they will expand their search for food. They will eat insects to survive, but since you've killed that food source the mice will probably start to move upstairs where they smell food cooking.

You need to put out two dozen mouse traps and you need to read my article on how to properly set mouse traps. The articles are listed under "Mice" in the category list on the left side of any page.
31 Oct 2012, 14:08
Great site Rick, thank you!
15 Nov 2012, 16:37
I have 4 pet mice and I was wondering if they can digest lard.?
Ask the Exterminator
16 Nov 2012, 15:04
Lard is on their diet plan.
11 Jul 2013, 09:22
I had a mouse issue and I called a company to eradicate them...well two months later my bananas were chewed on pretty bad.. im thinking they are back.. I put up glue traps and wood traps.. but the store brand of glue traps suck! any suggestions on getting rid of these pests besides moving.
14 Jul 2013, 12:03
I've trapped three rats/mice recently in my home. Two captures were inadvertent as they climbed into a large open plastic bin I used to store wild bird seed and they couldn't get out once inside. I used to same bin to capture a third rat/mouse by putting a few nuts at the bottom, filling it up with six inches of water, and greasing the sides with vegetable oil. Failing to get takers, I smeared a little peanut butter on the inside and found a dead rate inside the next morning (I thought they were swimmers). I seem to have another in the basement subsisting on insects based on the trace of feces found there.
Mister Smith
23 Sep 2014, 20:22
Mice do not like all that you say. They have a sweet tooth. Peanut Butter, and Chocolate are their favorites. But what gets them every time is string, and dry fuzz. They love to build a good nest and cannot resist building materials.

SNAP every time.

75 years mouse eliminator Age 93
Debbie Bird
19 Jan 2015, 20:34
Hi there mouse around in bedroom somewhere holes how I kill mouse tiny I don't have trap for mouse or glue poison glue and I have no money till end of month.
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