Mice have a reputation for eating everything in their path. And they really don’t have that reputation entirely without reason. But do mice have a feeling of satiety? Can mice overeat?
Mice do not normally overeat. They have certain nerve cells in their brain that give them the signal to stop when they have eaten enough. However, this does not mean that mice cannot become overweight. For that, it depends on what they eat. A balanced diet is therefore also important for pet mice.
According to the latest scientific findings, the eating behavior of mice is controlled by certain brain cells. These brain cells prevent them from overeating.
Let’s take a closer look at why mice cannot overeat. We will also address the question of whether you can overfeed your mice.
Then we explain how much and how often mice eat. And finally, we tell you which foods you should avoid feeding your mice.
Can Pet Mice Overeat?
It is very unlikely that mice overeat. They have special brain cells that control their food intake. As soon as a mouse has taken in enough food, these brain cells fire and the mouse stops eating a short time later.
This finding is relatively new and comes from a 2016 study in which an enzyme called OGT was removed from part of the neurons in laboratory mice.
This caused the mice to eat uncontrollably and gain weight rapidly. The enzyme thus ensures that mice feel full when they have eaten enough food.
It may seem unusual for mouse owners that mice can become full. You see them eating all the time, so it sounds weird that they could be full at times.
But it is actually the case. Mice do eat very often, but they only take in as much food as they need. It does not happen with mice that they still empty the plate, although they do not want to eat anything more.
Can I Overfeed a Pet Mouse?
Since mice have a sense of satiety and eat only what they need, you can’t actually overfeed your mice. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to give only as much food as the mice need.
The leftover food will otherwise lie around in the cage and may spoil or even go moldy over time. It would be unhealthy for the mice to eat this spoiled food.
Therefore, you should give your mice only the food they need. It is best to change the food and water daily to keep it fresh and healthy.
In addition, mice also need varied food. If they always get the same food, this can lead to a deficiency of certain nutrients, if not all necessary nutrients are contained in this food.
But as far as quantity is concerned, you can’t go wrong with mice. Mice know when they should stop eating. They don’t gain excess weight just by the amount of food they eat. Being overweight in mice is rather caused by wrong food.
How Much Should Pet Mice Eat?
Mice do not need much food. Throughout the day they eat about 10-15% of their body weight. Depending on the size and age of the mouse, this is about 4-8 grams per day.
So if you keep 5 mice as pets in a cage, it is enough to give them 40 grams of food per day. Of course, in general, you should rather give a little more than a little too little.
If you are away for the weekend, you can feed the mice for several days. Since the mice do not eat more than they need, the food will be enough for days.
In such a case, however, you should actually leave more food and also offer it in different places in the mouse cage. In the event that food is spilled or soiled, your mice will still have an alternative.
How Often Do Pet Mice Eat?
We now know that mice don’t eat that much at all. It is usually not more than 8 grams per mouse per day.
But for this small amount, mice eat very often. They are busy nibbling and snacking all day. So mice can come to 15 to 20 meals per day.
However, mice still have two main meals a day. They usually eat these right before sunrise and sunset.
If it is possible for you, you can change the food before these main feeding times and offer your mice fresh food.
What Food Should I Avoid to Prevent Obesity in Pet Mice?
As mentioned at the beginning, mice do not become overweight because they eat too much food, but because they eat bad food. So it’s less about quantity and more about quality.
There are some foods that are not good for mice because they can lead to obesity. you should not give these foods to your mice or give them only rarely.
The following list includes foods that can lead to obesity in mice:
- Bread: Bread is difficult for mice to digest because of the starch and salt it contains. Too much bread can lead to obesity in mice. In addition, stale bread can mold quickly. And bread usually contains preservatives, which are also not healthy for mice. It is best not to give mice bread at all.
- Nuts: Nuts contain a lot of fat, so nuts can also cause obesity if fed often. Only rarely give your mice nuts as a treat. A quarter of a nut per day is more than enough.
- Sunflower and pumpkin seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other oily seeds are also only suitable for mice in moderation. Just like nuts, they contain a lot of fat, which can lead to obesity. However, you can give your mice one sunflower seed per day instead of the quarter nut.
- Fat larvae: Mice are not vegetarians, they certainly appreciate animal food. They even need it occasionally because of the nutrients it contains. However, do not give mice fat larvae, as they are too fatty. Smaller larvae such as mealworms are fine a maximum of 2 to 3 per week. Even more suitable as mouse food are grasshoppers, crickets, house crickets and wood cockroaches.
- Fruits: Most fruits contain more or less sugar. Sugar can not only lead to obesity in your mice, but also has other negative effects such as diabetes. Exotic fruits like papaya, mango or bananas can cause severe stomach and intestinal irritation in mice. It is therefore better to avoid them. However, you can give other fruits in small quantity and in dried form once a week.
Overall, make sure that you offer your mice a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients, but not too fatty. They will care for the right amount, but will not be able to judge the nutrient content of the food themselves.
Conclusion: Can Pet Mice Overeat?
Mice cannot overeat. They have a natural food stopper in their brain. When they have eaten enough, special nerve cells make them stop eating.
However, you still have to make sure that your mice do not become overweight. If possible, avoid foods that are too fatty in your mice’s diet.
Mice eat relatively often, up to 20 times per day. However, they only eat a total of 4 to 8 grams of food per day, depending on the size of the mouse.
If you provide them with good, healthy food, your mice will stay healthy longer and will certainly enjoy their food more.