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Do Mice Like Cheese: Fact or Fiction?

By : Rita Stadler

Growing up on a farm, there were always mouse traps lying around waiting patiently, filled with a nice slice of cheese. Some days the mice would fall for our trickery and sometimes they wouldn’t. I always wondered if they were getting smart and catching on to our traps.

Then it caused me to ask the question, do mice even like cheese?

Life is full of mysteries — but recent studies have shown that the Tom and Jerry cartoons weren’t as accurate as we once believed; mice aren’t always attracted to cheese, and sometimes avoid it completely. Rodents have a very strong sense of smell, and the strong smell of stinky cheese is typically an odor that will cause them to turn around, rather than lure them toward a trap. 

However, other research has shown that mice will eat pretty much anything that has minor nutritional value if they are hungry and on the hunt for food, so yes, it is possible that hungry mice may eat cheese, but it’s likely not a food source they will seek out.

a mouse with triangular block of cheese

Do Mice Like Cheese banner imageWhat do mice eat? If mice don’t love cheese, then what do they like?

Given a choice, they prefer sweet foods, such as fruits or grains. Setting a mousetrap with cheese is not the most likely bait to succeed, especially if the rodents have been raiding your cereal cupboard for any amount of time. Also, as many cat owners can tell you, house cats love cheese, so you definitely do not want to leave some out on a snap trap or sticky trap that could get Mr. Whiskers!

Another study by Dr. David Holmes, of Manchester Metropolitan University, found that mice don’t like cheese at all. As mentioned before, you may have noticed that cheese has a rather strong odor. Mice notice this too, and their little noses are much more fine-tuned than ours. If a rodent is hungry enough, it may nibble on cheese, but the scent would not lure them to a trap.  Alarmingly, Dr. Holms even said that mice would turn to humans and other animals as a food source over the dairy option. Just one more reason we need to keep these critters out!

And in case you’re wondering, rats don’t like cheese either. But like mice, they may eat it if it’s all they can find. 

Can Mice Eat Cheese?

If you keep a mouse or a rat as a pet, you may be wondering if it’s safe for them to eat cheese as a snack. You already know by now that most rodents don’t like this food option, but that doesn’t mean all of them don’t like it. They prefer to eat less pungent foods, so if you do want to try and feed your pet mouse or rat cheese, you should go with a milder option like cheddar, gouda, or colby.

However, soft cheese can actually be quite dangerous to them. Mice don’t have molars that allow them to break down foods so there’s a higher chance of them choking on a soft and gooey hunk of cheese. And because they don’t have a gag-reflex, soft and chewy foods are even more dangerous for them to eat. They are much safer eating harder cheeses.

It’s also a commonly held belief that mice and rats are lactose intolerant. In general, they aren’t, but just like humans, individuals can be. If you feed your pet mouse a piece of cheese and it gets diarrhea, it may have a dairy sensitivity. That’s also something you definitely don’t want to deal with if you have a house mouse infestation, so that’s another reason to avoid cheese when trying to lure these pests.

Generally, cheese isn’t good for mice or rats. So if you’re looking for a snack to give your pet, consider some of their favorite foods like seeds, grains, meats, and fruits.

Know Their Weaknesses…

Do mice really like cheese?

Knowing that mice are choosy, not cheesy, will spare you from wasting the good stuff on a dirty, old mousetrap. It’s easy to get rid of mice when you know what they like and what they don’t; their strengths and weaknesses. Their sense of smell is very strong, but can be a weakness when you use something they don’t like–like Fresh Cab® botanical rodent repellent — guaranteed to be effective and safe to use around children and pets when used as directed. This plant-based repellent is made to have a natural, fresh scent that people will enjoy, while rodents will not.

Put a pouch in your mousetrap and you won’t catch any more mice, because there’ll be none!