What Do Mice Eat?

August 10, 2023

Whether you are baiting a mousetrap or trying to prevent mice by hiding their favorite foods, a key component in mouse control is knowing which foods mice like best. With this complete guide to a mouse’s preferred diet, neither baiting nor prevention has ever been easier. Read on to learn how to keep mice out using knowledge of their nutritional needs.


What Attracts Mice to Your Property


Unfortunately, mice are attracted to more than just food. Before we get into which foods they prefer, here are all of the other key mouse attractants:

  • Entrances and pathways such as holes in walls, uncovered vents, and utility wires that lead indoors. 
  • Soft, chewable materials for nesting. Mice prefer to build nests from materials like fabric, cardboard and paper products, insulation, feathers, foam, and anything else soft. Though not for nesting, they will also chew through wires, which can be a serious fire hazard. 
  • Cluttered areas which provide protected pathways for traveling and sheltered spots for nesting. 
  • Warmth is a major mouse attractant in the winter, since mice do not hibernate. In the summer, mice may move indoors if the outdoor weather is exceedingly hot. In short, mice will move indoors to seek shelter from the elements.
  • Mice will attract other mice by leaving pheromones in areas they find suitable for nesting. 


Natural Food Sources for Mice: Identifying Their Preferred Diet


Mice are omnivores who will eat just about anything. They are opportunistic feeders with very fast metabolisms due to their constant running, jumping, climbing, and foraging. Because of their demanding metabolisms, they prefer foods that contain high amounts of fat, protein, sugar, and carbohydrates. As they are opportunistic feeders, mice will consume whatever they can find whether it fits their nutritional preferences or not. In times of starvation, they will even eat their own feces or exhibit cannibalistic behavior. That being said, they of course prefer foods like grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and fatty meats. 


Common Foods That Attract Mice: Items to Be Aware Of


As previously mentioned, mice like foods that are high in fats, proteins, sugars, and carbs. Though a food’s nutritional value is the most important factor in attracting mice, the container in which it is kept also plays a role. Their opportunistic tendencies lead mice to most often contaminate foods which they can easily reach, like pantry foods that are kept in cardboard or paper packaging (i.e. oats, granola bars, cereals, pet foods, etc.). Outside of the pantry, mice often find meals inside garbage bins, gardening sheds and chicken coops. They love the leftovers they find in garbage bins, and they are quite partial to the seeds and animal feed they find in sheds. Inside chicken coops, they steal eggs, gnaw on the legs and feet of sleeping birds, and pluck the birds’ feathers to build their nests. If your property is prone to mouse infestations, it is best to keep an eye on pantries, sheds, and chicken or other fowl coops. 


Signs of Mouse Feeding: Indicators of Their Presence


Mice leave behind many signs of activity. The most common sign is their droppings, which are roughly ⅛ to ¼ inch long, rod-shaped, dark brown, and pointed at each end. They can be found wherever mice have been, including food and water sources, nest areas, and the pathways in between. Another obvious sign is chewed food packages and scratch marks. Unusual sounds like squeaking, scratching, and gnawing are a sure sign of mice. You may also notice grease marks along walls and mouse nests, which look like a ball of shredded soft materials with one entrance hole. 


Effective Mouse Baiting Strategies: Choosing the Right Foods


Successfully baiting mice requires a couple of different strategies to be employed. First, the baits must be placed in areas that mice frequently visit. This includes areas close to food sources, pathways along walls, and nesting areas like attics or wall voids. Second, you should try to use baits that are most attractive to mice. While mice will eat almost anything, they have certain preferences which we will highlight next. 


Foods That Mice Cannot Resist: High-Value Bait Options


  • High-fat baits: butter, lard, bacon, peanut butter
  • High-protein baits: nuts and nut butters, insects, beans, chickpeas, jerky
  • High-sugar baits: chocolate, fruits, dried fruits, candy
  • High-carb baits: cereal, oats, corn, seeds


Nutritional Requirements of Mice: What They Need to Survive


On average, mice eat between 15 and 20 times daily and consume a total of 3 to 5 grams of food per day. Since mice need to eat so often, they typically build their nests between 25 and 50 feet from a food source. They prefer to be close to a water source as well, however this is less important to them as they get much of the water they need from food. 


Mouse-Resistant Storage and Disposal Methods: Preventing Infestations


Mice will chew through anything their teeth can cut in order to reach a food source, which means that foods in cardboard, paper, or thin plastic packaging are especially vulnerable to mice. Such foods should be stored in airtight containers that are made of a hard material like metal or hard plastic. Pantry foods should be kept on shelves that are raised a minimum of 6 inches off of the floor and set 6 inches away from the wall. In addition to pantry foods, mice will scrounge through garbage to find a meal, so both indoor and outdoor garbage receptacles should have tight-fitting lids. 


Identifying Food Contamination: How Mice Compromise Your Pantry


Despite the fact that mice groom rather often, their behaviors are quite unclean. They leave urine and feces everywhere they go, they leave grease marks on walls, and their saliva and paws contaminate every food they touch. Due to their unsanitary habits, mice are known to carry and spread more than 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread through a bite or through the handling of a dead mouse, but more often than not, they are spread by way of contaminated foods and food prep surfaces. Consuming contaminated foods can be very dangerous, so any foods that show signs of mice should immediately be thrown away. Contaminated foods may have chew marks, scratch marks, or holes and stains in packaging. Contaminated surfaces must be fully and properly disinfected before being used. 


Sanitation Practices for Mouse Control: Removing Food Odors and Residue


Mice are often lured to kitchens and pantries by the smell of food that has been left out. As such, it is important to promptly put away leftovers and clean up any food or drink spills. Dirty dishes should not be left for too long. If they are not being washed right away, any leftover food should immediately be removed from the dishes. Again, all garbage cans should have tight-fitting lids, especially if they contain food waste. Garbage cans should be washed once in a while to remove any smells that may attract mice. 


Seek Expert Assistance


If your property has one or two mice, baiting them may be enough to eliminate the problem. However, mice breed quickly and once there are more than a few mice on the property, mouse traps alone are no longer a practical option. When you find signs of mouse activity, it is best to call an expert right away as an infestation can be both problematic and dangerous. 


Looking for a mouse control expert in New Jersey? Call Twin-Boro’s office today to schedule your free inspection. At Twin-Boro, we employ Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, to eliminate pests in a safer and more natural way, protecting your family from both pests and pesticides. 

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