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What Do Mice Like to Eat & Other Habits

By: EarthKind

Nearly 1/3 of American homes have reported a house mouse problem at one time or another, and it’s not hard to believe considering how much we have in common with these furry little pests. Whether you are a chocolate lover or a fitness fanatic, the similarities between human and mouse interests could be just what’s inviting them into your home.

Most mouse infestations occur during the fall and winter months when they are seeking warmth inside people’s homes. Learning more about these critters can help you better understand how to keep them out of your space. We’ll cover some of the main staples of their diet along with other things they like so you can use this information to effectively combat these common pests.

What Do Mice Eat?

In general, mice are omnivores and don’t necessarily have a favorite food per se. This means that they enjoy eating both vegetation and meat. The stereotype is that they’re attracted to cheese, but that actually isn’t true because their extremely sensitive noses find it a bit too smelly. A mouse’s diet inside of a home compared to what they consume in the wild will differ depending on what’s available. Naturally, mice like to eat human food if they can find it, including: 

  • Seeds and grains
  • Cereals
  • Chocolate
  • Pet food
  • Fruits 
  • Meats 

If these creatures come across any type of food in your home that smells good to them, they will likely give it a try. 

On the other hand, wild mice will primarily feast on dead plant, animal matter, and scraps, including: 

  • Rotting fruit
  • Veggies
  • Dead animals
  • Most any item found in a garbage can is fair game

This is a big reason why mice that live outdoors appear in urban neighborhoods — there are plenty of trash cans filled with yummy food scraps for them to enjoy. This makes urban environments the perfect habitat for hungry mice.

Farms also need to be mindful of keeping these critters at bay because rodents love eating fruits, oats, and grains. Your harvest can be drastically reduced if a lot of them infiltrate your property, so preventing infestations is especially important in agricultural settings.

Some mice have even been known to resort to cannibalistic behavior under extreme conditions. For example, it is not unheard of for a mother to eat one of her babies if no food can be found. Sometimes, they will even chew on their tails out of desperation. This behavior is fairly uncommon though, and they will only resort to it under duress.

Diet of a Newborn 

A newborn mouse will not be able to gather food for itself. Babies typically get milk from their mothers, and then their moms must go hunt for food on their own and bring it back to the nest. 

Before giving birth, the mother will look for a nesting spot that is near a reliable food source so her babies can remain close by while she scavenges. While in the womb, a baby will even adapt, or localize its tastes based on what the mother eats. This is why a family of mice may decide to turn your home into their home: There’s plenty of good food to go around for the babies.

What Else Do These Pests Like to Do?

Beyond eating, there are other habits these pests have that are good to know about. It can help homeowners learn where to locate them and better understand how to get rid of mice

Chewing & Gnawing

Similar to eating, these pests are also known to chew and gnaw on many household objects that are not food. Rodent teeth never stop growing, so they need to chew all the time to file down their incisors. 

Bite marks on furniture, walls, cardboard boxes, and sometimes even electrical wiring are often the first signs of mice that people notice. They also chew up various things to make soft bedding for their nests. Just like with food, they use whatever nesting materials they can find.

Close-up of rodent teeth

Gettin’ Busy

A female mouse can have her first litter at just 6-8 weeks old and reproduce about every two months after that. Needless to say, there is no such thing as ‘just one mouse’ and you can go from one sighting to an infestation in the blink of an eye.

Baby mouse sitting in a hand

Sneaking Around

Nighttime is the right time for these creatures. Since visual acuity is not a strong suit for them, evening hours and dim lighting are not a setback. And since you’re sound asleep, they can have the run of the house.

Mouse looking through a hole at a cat

Athletic Training

You might not believe it, but rodents can jump more than three times their height; they are capable swimmers and even better climbers. All of that means that the best way to keep them out is to make sure they don’t want to come in in the first place.

Rodent popping through a hole in the wall

Staying Close to Home

Even though mice can be found all over the world, they prefer to spend most of their time less than 20 feet away from their nest or burrow. This means that when you see signs of them, they didn’t just ‘eat and run;’ their home is likely nearby.

Mouse coming out of the baseboards in a home


Rodents don’t mind eating Fido or Fluffy’s sloppy seconds. If you leave a dish of pet food out 24/7, rats and mice will come and grab the nutritious morsels up to 20X daily, then ‘cache’ (stockpile) for later consumption! Be sure to keep the food dishes empty until meal time so you know you’re only feeding your fur-family members and no one else.

Rodent sitting in a pet food bowl with dogs looking at it

Keeping Them Away

Despite our common interests, these pests are not people. Rodents can carry many diseases like salmonella and Hantavirus, and are a health risk for people – their hair can even aggravate asthma. So what do you do?

For starters, do not leave food out in the open. Leaving a box of treats on the countertop is practically an open invitation for mice. If you have flour or grains in your kitchen, it’s a good idea to keep them in glass jars. They cannot chew through glass, so putting these items in jars or other tough, airtight containers will keep your food safe. This can help with other types of pest control as well.

Avoid leaving dishes in the sink, and wash them promptly after use instead. Dishes with food residue are easy for pests to reach and can lead to disaster in the kitchen. Rinse everything off thoroughly and put the dishes away when you’re done — otherwise, they may end up leaving droppings on dishes left out in the open.

Finally, seal or block potential entry points like dryer vents and use a botanical repellent such as Stay Away® Rodent to make sure mice stay outside where they belong.


12 thoughts on “What Do Mice Like to Eat & Other Habits

  1. tv schedule says:

    I love reading about what mice like to eat and other things they love!

  2. iptvnow says:

    I love reading about what mice like to eat and other things they love!

  3. Bob says:

    Ammonia, dryer sheets, and peppermint oil all worked 100%!! No more mice!! The ammonia did the trick. You can buy a jug of straight ammonia at Walmart for only a buck!! Simply pour some in some cups and place them behind your fridge, next to doors, in closets, etc. The mice mistake the smell of ammonia as a predator’s urine, so they steer clear from it. Dryer sheets also work well. Simply place them in cracks or points of entry. Same with peppermint oil. Apply many drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and then place the cotton balls at places where mice would enter. All these things would need to be redone monthly, so keep checking on things. I have no more mice at all!!

    1. Rita Stadler says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for sharing what worked for you! The methods you describe work with a similar principle as our products, by repelling the mice instead of killing them to prevent property damage and protect your family. There may some risks associated with using ammonia around the home as you describe, especially if pets or young children are in the home. I’m happy to hear dryer sheets and peppermint oil have helped you get rid of mice, but as you point out, these measures require frequent maintenance and the results are not always reliable. For proven protection from mice, we recommend choosing an EPA Registered rodent repellent like Fresh Cab.
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kathleen Briseno says:

    Is this safe for babies and pets?
    Do you use inside and outside?
    Thank you.

    1. Rita Stadler says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      All of our products are made from ingredients that are generally recognized as safe, specifically meaning plant fiber and botanical oils. There is no known risk when our products are used around babies and pets.

      Our repellent pouches are designed for indoor use. They can be used in other areas, but increased air flow (like you would experience outdoors) will cause the scent to dissipate more quickly. If you have any more questions about how or where to use EarthKind products, please give us a call at (800) 583-2921.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. anonymous says:

    i have a mouse problem in my home and we have tried peanut butter and traps. that worked for a while. we didnt actually see them anywhere at first besides the garage where we were keeping our dog food container. but soon started seeing them in my room after leaving out dog food from not knowing mice were attracted to it. I soon found out that he had been taking 1 piece of dog food into my closet a night and stashing it in there. ive tried a trap in my closet and caught a mouse but didnt know i caught it and it stunk up my whole closet. i saw another one tonight INSIDE MY DRESSER and im freaked out. what is the most effective way i can deal with getting them out of my room and out of my house?

    1. Rita Stadler says:

      Hi there!

      I am so sorry to hear about your situation, a mouse in the house can be very upsetting! Since you’ve already identified what was attracting the mice, it will be easier to get rid of them. Start by storing the dog food in a sealed, air-tight container, and only feeding your pets at mealtimes instead of leaving food out at all times. Next, you’ll need to tidy up around the house to get rid of hiding spots mice may be using to store food or build nests. Keep an eye out for any small holes, cracks, or gaps around pipes, cables, electric outlets and around doors and windows – mice can use these as entry points, so you’ll want to seal them with steel wool and silicone caulk. For proven protection and peace of mind, keep a few pouches of our botanical rodent repellent anywhere you’ve seen signs of mice. The fragrance will repel mice and leave a fresh scent behind for you to enjoy.

      Thanks for reading!

  6. Rusty says:

    What i have found to work the best is peanutbutter and dog food…like kibbles n bits

    1. Mildred Montalvo says:

      Thanks for sharing, Rusty! Pet food is actually one of the most common attractants for mice in the home, so you are spot on with that one. For that very reason, we recommend keeping pet food sealed in an airtight container to keep out pests like mice and pantry moths. By removing the things they like, sealing up potential entry points, and using Stay Away® rodent repellent, you can make sure those mice stay outside where they belong. Thanks for reading!


    I am trying to catch some rodents, I have baught a rat trap thats costing me hundreds of pounds to catch these rats and have only caught one baby rat.

    I am going to use rat traps, and and feed them cheese with bread and fruits to attract them in the rat traps.

    Please send so please send some rat poison to exterminate dead wax and had eliminate dead rats odors from the reception.

    The rats stink when they die in the house. They have a bad odour that remains in the living room.

    Please send me some information to my email to , [email protected]

    Many thanks and I look forward to your reply.

    Kind regards
    Bilal saloom

    1. Rita Stadler says:


      Sorry to hear about your rat problem! Unfortunately, we are not able to sell our product internationally at this time. Hopefully you will find some helpful information in our blog about getting rid of dead rat smell.

      Thanks for commenting!

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