Do Mice Eat Acorns? Find Out the Truth from Expert Vets
According to the National Research Council (Subcommittee on Laboratory Animal Nutrition) mice, like all other mammals, need a balanced diet containing adequate amounts of sugar, protein, fat, and minerals to thrive. And what could be more healthy, nutritious, and delicious than nuts?
Do mice eat acorns? Mice eat acorns. They like any type of nuts, but acorns are particularly attractive to them because they are abundant in nature, high in nutritional values, and have the right consistency for mice to wear their teeth down and relax themselves.
When it comes to food, mice can be quite opportunistic. However, they do have a preference for nuts. This is due to at least two reasons. As for the first, nature spontaneously offers a bountiful supply of nuts. Therefore, in certain seasons—mainly during the fall—acorns constitute a large part of a mouse’s diet.
Secondly, nuts in general and acorns in particular are high in calories and contain a balanced amount of carbs, protein, and fat. As mice are great at selecting what is good for them, they are naturally prone to recognize acorns as having a good taste as a consequence of their optimal nutritional values.
In addition to that acorns, with their chewy consistency, serve the purpose of keeping mice teeth sawed down, exercised, and razor-sharp. As their teeth are continuously growing, the act of chewing is of paramount importance to avoid the risk that they might grow to the point of hurting them.
Finally, chewing on acorns helps mice relax. It is not a well-known fact, but mice tend to be anxious. In fact, 2009 research in the field of neuroscience has shown that mice experience anxiety and even depression in a way that is comparable to that of humans. Thus, the act of chewing—with the constant moving and agitation it brings about—can act as a relaxant.
What Animal Collects Acorns? The Secrets of Small Rodents
In one year, an oak tree can produce up to 10,000 acorns. As such, this species of tree is a fundamental source of food for many animals. All in all, in the United States alone more than 100 vertebrate species eat acorns.
The first consumers of acorns are small rodents. Deer mice and white-footed mice are particularly keen on this type of dried fruit, and they tend to stash acorns when there is abundance for later consumption. Gray squirrels adopt a similar behavior, piling up acorns for winter. Oddly, they cannot remember where their stash is placed, and they are often victims of theft by other animals.
Voles, also known as field mice, often transport acorns in their underground dens, where they scatter them on the ground for consuming them at their best convenience. Chipmunks too include acorns in their varied diet made up of seeds, berries, fruit, corn and, occasionally, small bird eggs. During hibernation, they like to wake up periodically to snack on their stashes of food.
Larger mammals also consume great amounts of acorns, along with other types of nuts. These species include wild boars, deers, and pigs. One single pig can eat up to 8 kg of acorns every day. Finally, numerous winged animals include acorns in their diets. Among them are blue jays, woodpeckers, crows, quails, wild turkeys, and wood ducks.
What Do Mice Eat? Professionals Say Why They Like Acorns
If you have ever watched a Tom and Jerry episode, you might be of the idea that mice have a weakness for cheese. Curiously enough, this common belief is nothing more than a myth, probably resulting from the fact that in the past cheese was stored less carefully than more expensive food items, like grains or meat.
In reality, mice tend to prefer foods that are high in sugar. Cheese, with its high protein content, would not be their preferred choice. Furthermore, mice have a very sensitive nose, so that the pungent smell of certain varieties of cheese might actually repel rather than attract them. This further explains why mice have a taste for acorns.
At any rate, mice are not exactly picky when it comes to their diet. On the contrary, they are omnivores, meaning that they can eat almost anything: grains and seeds, fruits and vegetables, pet food, and whatever leftovers they might be able to find. In the absence of anything more nutritious, they will even nibble at wood, paper, or candle wax.
Depending on the species and on opportunity, mice will have varying percentages of meat in their diet. For example, wild mice regularly eat insects, spiders, and larvae. In general, though, meat is not among mice’s favorite foods, and raw meat could also be problematic to digest for them.
Of course, although almost any type of food (and even wood or paper) can be good enough for mice, they still have preferences. Some of them may be surprising for most. In fact, mice love chocolate, peanut butter, and even hazelnut spread. The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends luring them with a small piece of bacon. In short, small rodents are veritable gourmets!
Do Mice Bring in Acorns? Explaining this Bizarre Behavior
There is one unmistakable sign that mice have been in your barn or garage: piles of acorns laying in the corners, carefully piled up. Deer mice and white-footed mice are particularly fond of stashing acorns along with beech nuts and pine cone scales, but virtually any species of mice has a tendency to store their food.
Although quiet parts of the house are the favorite spots for mice to nest, people have found acorns under the sink, in cubby holes, laundry rooms, and washing machines. Sometimes, mice pile their acorns even in cars’ engine intakes, according to Consumer Reports.
When explaining this bizarre behavior, it is important to take into account that small rodents are constantly looking for three things: food, water, and shelter. If your house provides the shelter that they crave for and they can access water—an hidden leak from the pipes is all they need—they might decide to bring in their own stash of food.
Do Mice Hoard Nuts in Your Garage? This Might Be the Reason
As winter approaches, mice’s quest for food, water, and shelter becomes all the more important. This might bring into your house even rodents that are usually found outside, like deer mice. The cold weather is the main reason why the winter months are the busiest when it comes to wildlife control and disinfestations.
It is well-known that squirrels hoard acorns ahead of winter, but mice share this type of behavior. In addition to that, mice do not hibernate, so their supply of food needs to be quite substantial. An average adult male mouse eats 0.13 ounces (3.6 grams) of food a day: that is, 10-15% of their body weight.
Although the cold weather is the main cause of mice infestations during winter, two other factors play an important role. The first is the fact that mice breeding peaks during the fall. As a mouse is considered an adult when it reaches one month of age, by wintertime there will be an entirely new generation of mice ready to make a nest out of your house.
Secondly, the cold can cause building materials to contract, creating cracks and holes that serve as passageways for rodents. A hole the diameter of a pencil is all it takes for mice to get inside a building.
Can Mice Carry Nuts? The Insane Strength of Small Rodents
It may seem astonishing that animals as small as mice might be able to carry acorns and nuts. In reality, mice are agile, resilient, and strong animals. Evolution has gifted them with a number of “superpowers” to make up for their reduced size.
For example, mice can gnaw through hard materials (including wood, plastic, vinyl, aluminum, and improperly cured concrete) to create passageways, exploiting existing cracks that are too small for them. Plus, an adult male mouse—whose length is just 7 ½ inches (19 cm)—can jump as high as 13 inches (33 cm).
That said, it shouldn’t be surprising that mice can carry acorns all the way to your attic or garage. After all, it is not a case that house mice’s scientific name is Mus Musculus. They have a higher strength/weight ratio than that of rats and are able to lift 1 to 3 the equivalent of their body weight just using their forepaws.
To conclude, mice are also extremely dexterous and can walk on any type of wire, cable, or rope. They are capable of swimming and climbing and are not stopped by vertical surfaces. For all these reasons, infestations might be tricky to tackle.
Below Is an Analysis of What Mice Most Frequently Eat In the Wild Based on What Posters Are Posting on Rodent Forums:
|What do mice eat outside||Percentage of total results|
|Indiscriminately eat whatever they can put their hands-on||18.75%|
|Acorns & Seeds||25%|
|Fruits & Vegetables||31.25%|
|Other mice in cases of desperation||6.25%|
How Do I Keep Mice From Eating My Acorns? 10 Fail-Proof Ways
If you have noticed mice gnawing at your acorn stash or roam around the house, you might be looking for ways to keep them at bay. This would in fact be a wise choice. Despite the fact that some people find them cute, they can bring in serious illnesses such as leptospirosis, salmonellosis, hantavirus, or even plague.
Look at this video below for more information in regards to the dangers rodents pose to your household.
It’s important to know that mice never come alone. They are very sociable animals that move in packs and breed fast. Thus, when you spot one, you can be sure that more have elected your house as their den. Furthermore, mice have a mind like a steel trap, especially when it comes to food.
So, the only options when it comes to mice are preventing infestation, or getting rid of them once they enter the house. Let’s take a look at the possibilities, from prevention measures to methods for countering an infestation.
- Finding and Closing Any Openings. A thorough inspection of the house will reveal any cracks or holes that mice could use to get inside. Once a building is sealed, infestations are unlikely to occur.
- Spray Acorns with Pesticides or Allow Other Animals Close to the Stash. This very creative solution is designed to change the smell of the acorn pile so that mice will be wary of coming back to eat them.
- Clean Out Weeds and Debris Around the House. Although mice only eat grass when nothing else is available, they can use it as shelter or as a cover for their movements when entering the house. Having a clear space around the building will help prevent them from entering.
- Taking Away the Garbage Regularly. This is especially important if the garbage contains food remains. Pet food in particular is attractive to mice. As a corollary, always seal food leftovers and avoid keeping them on kitchen counters or other places that can be accessed easily.
- Peppermint Oil. The strong smell of peppermint oil is great at repelling mice. However, it must be noted that while it keeps mice at bay, it is not a mice intoxicant, so it won’t be of help once mice are inside the house. With that being said, if you need to flush them out or away from a specific place you cannot go wrong with the gallon peppermint oil spray by Mighty Mint. Learn more about this product from Amazon, here!
- Rat Poison. This kind of trap is the most used for countering infestations and contains strong anticoagulants that cause internal bleeding in mice. It is effective, but the risk is poisoning children or house animals. Furthermore, poison does not kill instantly, so the animal might die where the carcass is unreachable.
- Glue Traps. This alternative is widespread, but can hardly be recommended as mice can easily gnaw off their own body parts to escape. This makes them even more inhumane than poison, and less effective.
- Peanut Butter, Chocolate, and Bacon Traps. As mice are naturally prone to sweet, sugary treats, luring them with tasty food is a valid solution.
- Electric box traps. These traps are covered in plastic. A tiny hole allows mice in but keeps other pets away. Once the mouse has entered the trap, a small charge will electrocute it instantly. It is both more humane and more effective than poison and glue traps. A reliable brand of this type of mouse trap is Victor. With their traps capable of eliminating 100 mice before discharging. Be sure to take a closer look at it’s Amazon listing, here!
- Nesting Materials Traps. Mice get into the house to look for shelter. Thus, making them feel welcome with inviting materials such as shredded paper, cotton, or feathers might make it easier to lure them into the trap.