Mice are known to be scrappy scavengers, but what happens to them when their food sources run dry?
Whether you are a pet mouse owner or are a homeowner dealing with a mouse infestation, you will want to know how long your mice can survive without food and water.
Keep reading below to learn all of the facts.
How long can mice go without food?
Mice are no different from any other animals…they need food to survive. But, unlike larger animals who carry larger stomachs and fat tissues for food storage, mice have small stomachs, small fat storing tissues, and very fast digestive systems.
This means that mice need food daily to function efficiently. But how long can mice go without any food at all? If food is completely unavailable in any shape or form, mice can live no longer than four days.
This is critical information for many reasons. For starters, if you own pet mice, this information can save your little friends’ lives. You should be feeding your pet mice every day, but if for some reason you forget to one day or are unable to, it’s reassuring to know that they can go a few days without food.
On the other hand, if have an infestation and are trying to get rid of your mice, look no further. If you completely cut out all food sources that your mice have access to, they will have no choice to but to exit your dwelling to find food. Keeping your home clean and tidy, free from any easily accessible food sources, is the best pest control method you can implement to get rid of mice and keep them away for good. Without crumbs and scraps to munch on every day, they must move on to a new location to survive.
Will they leave your home if there is no food?
Mice can leave your home if there is no food AND if you consistently keep it that way.
Consistency is key. Mice spend almost every living second of the night scanning its surroundings for food. Even the smallest of crumbs hidden below your refrigerator can attract a mouse. Therefore, it’s not enough to do a thorough kitchen and house clean one day and then forget to put your dog’s food away the next. This specific pest control method will only work on its own (i.e. without the help of traps, poisons, etc) if have an orderly system that keeps all food and garbage stored away securely at all times for weeks and months on end.
Furthermore, keeping your home free of food is basically a prerequisite if you want to implement any other pest control method. Think about it. If you want to put out a bunch of snap traps, yes, they will snap a few mice, and you may think you have the situation under control. But if you fail to address their food sources, they will always be attracted to your home and enter at will. Traps, poisons, noise repellents, and other pest control efforts are never enough on their own to fully deter mice from your home. You must address the reason why they are in your home in the first place: food.
How long can mice go without water?
Like food, mice need water to survive, too (although they don’t need much).
There are two primary ways they get their water: directly and indirectly. They get water directly through primary water sources both in the wild and in your home. In the wild, theses sources include ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, puddles, and other natural sources. In your home, these sources include sinks, condensation, drains, pipes, and spills.
Mice also get their water indirectly through their food. If fact, this is their most used source of water. Because they require a very little amount of water to survive, the small amounts of water that they can extract from their food is enough for them to survive off of for a long time. How long? Mice can live months living off of indirect water.
It’s important to note that if your mice (pets or invaders) are not fed, they will seek out and drink from direct water sources. But, as mentioned earlier, they will die much faster from starvation than from dehydration because mice go without food no longer than four days. Therefore, it’s not intuitive to think about a mouse’s longevity without water in its own respect because food equals water for them. Without food, they will seek out water, but also without food, they will die in a matter of days. And they can survive without a direct water source for months on end as long as they still have access to food.
What do mice eat?
Mice will eat anything. They are opportunistic eaters (omnivores) and scavengers. However, like all animals, they do prefer some foods more than others.
Mice prefer sweets and plant-based foods over insects and meats. Their favorite foods are fruits, nuts, seeds, and snacks and treats high in sugar and fat. Foods that they go especially crazy for—and therefore work well as bait for mouse traps—are peanut butter, milk chocolate, marshmallows, and gumdrops.
Mice will also eat insects, but usually only when none of the previous other options (fruits, nuts, snacks, etc.) are available. Also, many insects are difficult for mice to catch. Therefore, it can be much easier for mice to crawl into your garbage, compost, or dumpster, than it is to chase a bug all day.
At the end of the day, mice will eat anything they can get their little hands on. When it comes to their survival, they aren’t picky eaters. But, if you have pet mice, you should hold of on the snacks and sweets for special occasions and feed them a balanced diet of plant-based foods.
How long do mice live?
The average mouse lives for about 12-18 months. However, this is not a set and stone range, and there are many factors that play a role in a mouse’s lifespan.
A mouse living in your home (either a house or deer mouse) also typically lives longer on average than a mouse living in their natural environment. This is primarily due to the fact that a mouse in the wild faces more predators. Therefore, a house mouse actually has a longer average lifespan. The average lifespan of a house mouse is about 2 years. This is because house mice have adapted over time to thrive in home environments. And who could blame them? They face less predators (although us humans can be quite efficient rodent killers), have access to safe and cozy housing, and can have access to plenty of food scraps.
On the contrary, a mouse living in his natural environment (i.e. not in your home) lives a shorter life. On average, a mouse living outdoors lives less than 1 full year. Everywhere he looks for food, he is a juicy prey for snakes, rats, owls, and other birds of prey.
Lastly, it’s important to note that just because a mouse doesn’t necessarily live that long, you should not think that your mouse infestation will subside given enough time. This is because mice are prolific breeders. A single female mouse can give birth to 25-60 mice in a year, and it’s not uncommon to have multiple breeding females in an infestation. So, do not count on mice simply dying in your home without causing any damage. A couple of mice entering your home can quickly turn into hundreds if you do not deal with them properly.
What if they die in your house from starvation?
It is very unlikely that a mouse will die in your home from starvation. This is because he simply does not have to. He will leave your premises and search for food elsewhere instead of giving up and dying behind your walls.
Because a mouse generally can’t live more than four days without food and water, he is constantly very wary of his food supplies and current situation. If a mouse goes a day without finding any food at all in your home, he will likely starting searching for food in nearby places outside. It is very, very unlikely for a mouse to put himself in a situation where he does not at least give himself a chance to find food in order to survive.
If, however, for some strange reason, a mouse dies in your house from starvation, there is no need to panic. If you are able to get to the dead body, throw it away safely and promptly. If you cannot access it, there is still no need to panic. The body will decompose on its own, although there may be a rotten smell in your home for a few days.