Do Mice Eat Dead Mice? 9 Weird Facts


So, the question I’m about to answer here is whether or not mice are going to eat dead mice. To be honest, this doesn’t sound all that pleasant, and it’s easy to understand why. After all, the very idea of a mouse being a cannibal is not something most people want to think about.

So, will a mouse eat a dead mouse? The answer is a resounding yes.

Mice will eat dead mice. Mice are primarily scavengers, and look for any opportunity to eat. Particularly when in a state of desperation, mice will eat dead family members to stay alive.

There is a huge amount going on when we talk about mice eating mice. We need to explore a series of facts in order to really determine what is going on, and also why they do it in the first place.

When you actually look into it, this act makes more sense than you would have initially thought, even though it’s still tough for us to get our head around.

brown mouse in straw

Fact 1 – A Mouse is a Scavenger

The first fact is focused all on their natural instinct, as a mouse is a real scavenger when it comes to their food.

They will try to eat almost anything if they feel that it is going to contain some energy that will then help them to survive.

Sadly, this also equates to them eating a dead mouse. Let’s face it, a scavenger is going to turn their attention to anything they think looks attractive when it comes to food.

They do not regard it as a dead mouse, as their concept of things will be completely different to how we would view all of this. Instead, they see the opportunity to eat something that will provide them with what they need in order to survive. 

The very idea of it being a mouse before them is something that is just not going to resonate.

A mouse is going to eat both plants and meat in the wild, so them doing this is less of a leap in the imagination than you would expect. 

Fact 2 – They Will Eat Anything When Food is Scarce

This fact is also tied in with the idea of the survival instinct.

A mouse will eat anything when food is scarce, and that also includes a dead mouse. [Source]

If we as humans were starving, we would try to eat things that we would not really want to consume in any other situation. Now, I’m not talking about us eating other humans, but you would eat strange and peculiar things if it was the choice between that, or you perhaps not surviving.

A mouse is going to act in the same way, but they don’t have the same concerns about eating one of their own species as we do.

It’s important to stress that this act of eating another mouse is not going to be their first port of call.

They would prefer to eat other things instead of a mouse, but when faced with very real difficulties, then they are not going to hesitate when it comes to indulging in a bit of cannibalism.

Fact 3 – They Will Eat Them Off a Mousetrap

This fact is slightly surprising to people, but a mouse is going to be more than willing to eat a dead mouse off a mousetrap.

You see, the mouse is going to understand that the danger has gone, as the mousetrap has already claimed its victim, but it also means they have a meal all ready for them.

Once again, this goes into the entire idea of them merely seeing a meal in front of them instead of it being a mouse. That bond doesn’t exist, even though a mouse does often operate in family groups.

With a mousetrap, the healthy one is going to simply see that energy source.

They don’t sense the same danger, so that survival instinct has the space to kick in without the same anxiety. 

However, it’s still going to come as a shock to any of us that comes across a dead mouse in this situation where they have been partly eaten. If you do see that, then at least you now know what is behind this exact action.

Fact 4 – They Will Eat Dead Family

If a mouse within a family group dies of natural causes, then the rest of the mice in that group will get to work with eating the dead mouse.

As we have said before, this ties into the concept of it being linked to getting the energy that is lying there rather than anything else.

You need to remember that a mouse is only too aware of the need to survive.

They have no idea when their next meal is going to be, or even where it will come from. Seeing that source of energy in front of them is the most important thing they have to deal with at that time. 

It’s impossible for us to really understand the bond that goes on between mice that are related. Every mouse is out there for its own self, as they are just acutely aware of what they need to do in order to survive. 

Let’s face it, other animals are also going to think along the same lines. It’s hardly unique to the mouse.

Fact 5 – There is a Safety Element

So far, we have been talking about it from an energy perspective, but there’s more to it than that. Instead, there’s also a safety element that’s worth considering when talking about wild mice.

A dead body that is busy decomposing will attract a predator.

A mouse is not going to want to send out any signals to passing predators that would then put their own safety at risk.

The problem here is that they will not want to leave their nest, and they have no other way of effectively disposing of the body. The only outcome is to then go ahead and consume the body in order to basically remove the smell.

So, when they are carrying out this act, they are doing so in order to protect themselves from harm. A predator will often find it relatively easy to sniff out an easy meal, and then the mice that are still alive are in trouble.

When you think about it from that perspective, it kind of makes more sense as to why they will then go ahead and eat a dead mouse.

If they don’t, then there’s every chance that they too could become a meal, and not for another mouse.

White mouse in flowers on stone

Fact 6 – They Don’t Like the Tail

This fact makes it sound as if the mouse has a preference for certain parts of another mouse, but it’s not meant to come across like that. 

However, when consuming a dead mouse, there appears to be an issue with the tail.

They just don’t like it, and it’s presumed that it’s because the tail is pretty inedible.

Now, the reason why it’s presumed to be the case is that a mouse that is starving will try to eat its own tail, so that’s where the confusion comes into play.

But things seem to change when you are dealing with another mouse. 

In general, they will be happy to eat almost any part of the body of the mouse, aside from the tail. So, if you come across just the tail, then you have a good idea as to what has been going on.

Fact 7 – A Mother Mouse Will Eat Their Dead Baby

A mother mouse is going to have no problem in eating their dead baby, even when they are merely a day or two old.

However, they also take things to another level by the simple fact that they will also eat them while they are still alive if they are feeling overwhelmed by having to look after too many babies. [Source]

Once again, you have to think of the way in which they view this as being a source of food and energy for them. A mother is well aware of the need to have the energy to look after their young, so they will try to get this energy from anywhere they possibly can.

If that means eating a baby mouse that has died of natural causes, then that is what they are going to do.

When you think about it from that angle, the mother is using the dead baby to hopefully preserve the health of the rest of her babies.

There is something different about the feelings that this then produces when you consider the fact she is taking the survival of her other babies into account, even though she has just lost one.

Fact 8 – They Can Break Through the Bones

If you thought that the mouse would only eat the fleshy parts of a dead mouse, then you need to keep in mind that the mouse has the ability to break through bones when chewing.

Their jaws, and teeth, are exceptionally sharp, and this can be seen in the way that they will even chew through their own leg to get away from trouble.

Now, that is an extreme example to mention, but it does happen and it shows how their teeth can indeed work their way through various parts of the body of a dead mouse.

In saying that, they will clearly go for the more edible parts first, so the flesh and internal organs will be important to them.

It wouldn’t be unusual for you to come across a dead mouse that has been basically disemboweled and the carcass is left. 

Also, keep in mind the other things that a mouse can chew through. It shows how their teeth are sharper than we realize, so dealing with the dead body of a mouse is going to be very easy.

Now, we aren’t saying they will smash through the bones in some sort of gruesome way.

Fact 9 – Desperation is Key

The one thing that comes across quite clearly with all of these facts is the way in which a mouse is going to carry out this act of eating a dead mouse when they find themselves in a relatively poor situation.

Desperation is something that will drive them to eating their dead, and that does make it a bit easier to understand from our own perspective.

Whether it be due to starvation, stress, or the fear that a predator will come across their nest, the mouse will turn to cannibalism if the need arises. 

So, we have 9 different facts about mice and how they go about eating another dead mouse. This isn’t an easy thing to think about, but it does play an integral role in their society and shows perfectly the way that natural survival instincts can really take over. 

It’s best to not view it from our own perspective. That just puts a different slant on the entire thing, and it’s harder to then comprehend what is going on.

After all, we are often guilty of putting human attributes onto animals when they don’t actually have them.

If you see your pet mouse eating another pet mouse after it has died, then try not to freak out over that idea. Just keep in mind they are doing something that comes naturally to them, even if the entire thing is completely alien to us. 

Barry Gray

Barry is a freelance writer from Scotland. He has written about pets for over a decade, and his work has been turned into a range of ebooks, courses, and material for diplomas. Barry is passionate about all animals, but particularly dogs, fish, rabbits, birds and spiders. You can find out more about Barry at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/

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