If you’ve ever been to Asia, you’ve probably encountered alfalfa. In some regions, alfalfa is considered a superfood because it is said to have valuable ingredients. You might want to offer something healthy like this to your mice. But can mice eat alfalfa at all?
Mice can eat alfalfa. However, only certain parts of it. The seeds of alfalfa contain the amino acid canavanine, which can trigger autoimmune reactions. Mice can tolerate alfalfa herbs, roots, flowers, and sprouts without any problems. You can give them to your mice as fresh food or dried.
Let’s look in a little more detail at whether and why mice eat alfalfa and what parts of it they may eat. After that, we will also discuss why alfalfa is considered a healthy food.
We will also clarify the question of whether alfalfa is healthy for mice. And finally, we’ll tell you whether mice can eat other legumes as well.
Do Mice Eat Alfalfa?
Mice can eat most parts of alfalfa. The only exception is the alfalfa seeds.
Alfalfa seeds contain a toxic amino acid called canavanine.Canavanine serves as an antifeedant for alfalfa. Canavanine resembles the essential amino acid arginine. Metabolism then confuses the two amino acids.
Arginine plays an important role in the immune system and nervous system. Canavanine, which takes the role of arginine, inhibits the processes that arginine is supposed to support.
However, all other components of alfalfa are completely harmless. Even the sprouts are suitable for mice. The canavanine is no longer present once the seeds have begun to germinate.
So, you can give your mice the herbs, swirls, flowers, and sprouts of alfalfa without hesitation.
It is best to mix alfalfa into your mice’s fresh food. However, it is also possible to dry alfalfa and then offer it as dry food.
Why Is Alfalfa Considered Healthy?
Alfalfa contains many valuable nutrients. It is an exceptionally protein-rich plant that helps meet the protein needs of your mice.
However, you need to know that plant protein cannot replace animal protein. Your mice will still need animal protein for their well-being.
Alfalfa also contains a lot of calcium. However, the protein makes it harder for the mouse to absorb the calcium. This puts the high calcium content back into perspective a bit.
In addition, alfalfa also contains some vitamins. Especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K can be emphasized. So you should also offer a fat source in the meals so that the organism of the mice can absorb the vitamins more easily.
If you want to be even more specific, the following list will show you the nutrients per 100g (3.5 oz) of alfalfa sprouts:
- Carbohydrates: 2.3 g
- Ice white: 4.0 g
- Fat: 0,7 g
- Dietary fiber: 1.8 g
- Water content: 93
- Vitamin B1: 0.1 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.1 mg
- Vitamin C: 8mg
- Vitamin E: 0.1 mg
- Potassium: 78 mg
- Calcium: 29 mg
- Phosphorus: 74 mg
- Magnesium: 26 mg
- Iron: 1 mg
- Zinc: 0,9 mg
- Copper: 0,2 mg
- Chloride: 9mg
With alfalfa herbs, the nutritional values per 100g (3.5 oz) look a little different, but still very good:
- Carbohydrates: 12.2 g
- Ice white: 6,9 g
- Fat: 0,13 g
- Water content: 79.5g
- Carotene: 28.1 mg
- Potassium: 137 mg
- Calcium: 16,6 mg
- Sodium: 1,2 mg
- Iron: 0.34 mg
So you can see that alfalfa can provide your mice with some important nutrients. And even in different dosage forms.
You can feed your mice the herbs, or you can feed them sprouts – or both to offer them even more nutrients.
Alfalfa also contains large amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus and the essential amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan. All these nutrients are good for the health of your mice.
Saponins are also present in alfalfa. These surface-active compounds are considered anti-inflammatory and are especially useful in the intestines.
Is Alfalfa Healthy for Mice?
Alfalfa is definitely a healthy addition to your mice’s diet for the reasons mentioned above.
Especially the high content of proteins and calcium will be good for your mice.
But also the above-mentioned vitamins A, D, E, and K are healthy for your mice. However, remember to add some fatty ingredients to the diet. This will make it easier for the mice to process the vitamins.
Alfalfa contains a lot of chlorophyll, which positively influences the acid-base balance of your mice. Especially their liver can benefit from this.
Besides that, alfalfa also has a blood purifying effect and can protect against fungal infections. It cleanses the body of heavy metals and detoxifies it.
But the range of applications of this superfood is far from exhausted. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), alfalfa seeds are used to treat kidney stones, water retention and swelling.
They are also said to be anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, hemostatic and appetizing, as well as regulating cholesterol levels.
In addition, the plant has many antioxidants that can bind free radicals in the body. These are released mainly by stress.
A study by the National Taiwan University in 2009 also shows that the ethyl acetate in the shoots of alfalfa can help against autoimmune diseases in mice. Ethyl acetate is also the active ingredient responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect of alfalfa.
Can Mice Eat Other Legumes?
Alfalfa is an exception among legumes.
Mice do not tolerate other legumes such as peas, lentils, or beans so well. Legumes are often offered as rodent food in the pet store, but you should give them a wide berth.
If these are fed raw to mice, they can cause flatulence. So actually just like with us humans.
However, if you want and the mice like it, you can feed them fresh, raw sweet pea pods. Mice can tolerate these quite well.
There are also some other foods that mice cannot tolerate.
Besides legumes, these are mainly onion crops, potatoes, cabbage, radish, rhubarb, and eggplant. Radish and rhubarb are even slightly poisonous for mice.
So there are some things that do not belong in a mice diet.
What Plants Are Toxic to Mice?
There are some plants that are really toxic for mice. These you must not use as food in any case.
The problem is that some of these poisonous plants are also popular houseplants. In many households, they are popular and stand around as decoration.
If you have any of these plants and your mice get exercise, you should make sure that they do not get to the plants. You may even want to put the plants in another room.
Don’t be alarmed, it’s quite a long list. And the list is also not complete, of course, there are many more poisonous plants. But in this list you will find at least the most important plants:
- Aloe vera
- Autumn crocus
- Bingel weed
- Bittersweet nightshade
- Blue vine
- Cherry laurel
- Christmas rose
- Christ’s thorn
- Corn Vetch
- Cypress spurge
- Ground ivy
- Jacob’s wort
- Lily of the valley
- Mountain laurel
- Potato weed
- Sade tree
- Summer lilac
- Tree of life
- Vine umbel
- Vinegar tree
- Wild garlic
- Window leaf
- Wonder shrub
- Wood anemone
- Wood sorrel
- Yew tree
Conclusion: Can Mice Eat Alfalfa?
So mice can eat alfalfa and they should eat it. Alfalfa contains many healthy nutrients such as calcium and vitamins.
However, it is important to know that you should not feed the seeds of alfalfa. They contain an amino acid that can trigger autoimmune reactions.
Alfalfa is an exception among legumes with sweet pea pods. Normally, legumes are taboo for mice because they can trigger flatulence.
With alfalfa, however, things are different. Mice tolerate alfalfa very well and benefit from it in terms of health.
So always mix some alfalfa into your fresh food mix to do something good for your mice. It will not harm their health.