Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by UNEEBA REHMAN from Chatham. UNEEBA REHMAN Wonders, “Why do mice like cheese?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, UNEEBA REHMAN!

There are certain “facts” that people think they know about animals. For example, everyone knows that a rabbit’s favorite food is…what? Carrots, of course! Dogs chew on… bones, obviously! And mice love…what? If you said “cheese,” you’re right on track.

But do mice really love cheese? And, if they do, why? To answer this question, we tried to ask the first mouse we came across. Unfortunately, he just squeaked loudly and ran away.

The “mice love cheese” belief has been around a long time. If you like cartoons, you may have seen an old Tom and Jerry cartoon that shows Tom trying to lure Jerry out of his hole with a piece of cheese. You might also remember Cinderella’s friend, Gus, munching on a chunk of cheese.

However, most mice aren’t cute cartoon characters. Instead, they’re cute real-life animals. Specifically, mice are rodents. Like most rodents, mice usually eat a diet of fruits, vegetables and grains. Where mice tend to live, these are the foods that are usually easiest to find. However, like other rodents, mice can and will eat just about anything. That includes insects, other animals and…yes…even cheese!

But do mice LOVE cheese? Would they prefer to have cheese over other available foods? According to some scientists, the answer is probably “no.”

First, cheese isn’t the type of food readily available in areas where mice usually live. Thus, they wouldn’t be exposed to cheese all that often — at least not often enough to develop a special love for cheese.

Furthermore, mice have very sensitive noses. The sharp, pungent smells of most cheeses would likely tend to drive mice away rather than draw them near.

Finally, scientific studies have shown that mice tend to prefer foods with lots of sugar. Cheese consists of proteins that aren’t usually sweet. That’s why you’re more likely to catch a mouse in a trap baited with a small piece of chocolate rather than a hunk of cheese.

Okay, so mice don’t love cheese. Then where did this myth come from? There’s no one answer for this question. However, many think it goes back to how people used to store their food. Years ago, people stored grains in glass jars and meats hanging high up. Cheese, on the other hand, was laid on the shelf. That made it an easy target for unwelcome pantry visitors, including mice.

So mice ate cheese because it was convenient, not because they liked it. Today, more foods are easily accessible. That means mice are much more likely to go after things they like, such as sugar and grains. You know what that means. More cheese for us!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.W.8, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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