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Two Separate Views of Mice: Pets and Pests

The similarity of how pets and pests are spelled out is very cunning, especially when the pest or pet in question are mice. While in many parts of the world mice are considered to be one of the most dreaded pests capable of causing damages that can amount to millions of dollars, in some households, mice are also considered as lovable pets, equal to dogs and cats, and even to little children. It is quite difficult to imagine how the liking of these people towards mice has come to being, but the fact alone that most pet shops all around the world already include pet mice in their display means that many pet lovers are not considering mice as animals worthy of love and care.

White Mice Popularity

By examining the mice displayed in most pet shops, one would quickly realize that the mice sold are mostly white. Of course, there are other rodents sold in these pet shops too (hamsters and guinea pigs are popular examples) and these rodents come in different colors: white, brown, gray, or a combination thereof. However, in the case of pet mice, pet shops only sell white ones. Why is this so?

According to a research conducted to examine the behaviour of pet lovers towards mice, it was found out that black mice (or gray mice) are mostly related to the idea of being a "pest", thus, pet shops selling black or gray mice are most likely to end up not attracting buyers into their store. On top of this, many people have the tendency to appreciate white mice because of their "cotton ball" appearance. As a conclusion, pet mice sold in pet shops are mostly white because of the buyers' tendency to discriminate black or gray mice.

Laboratory mice are also mostly white. While the same reason still holds, researchers also realize that while mice are easier to work on with because of their almost translucent fur color. Since laboratory mice are usually used for testing drugs that are intended for human consumption, it is always better if the change in the physical appearance of the mouse being tested can easily be detected. Gray and black mice are not popular choices because their physical appearance hinders experts to easily study them.

Pet Mouse's Pest Tendencies

In general, even though pet mice are treated as "pets" and are given food for nourishment instead of bait, these rodents are still very much alike house pest mice. They also nibble around, that is why it is almost impossible to keep a pet mouse and not cage it (Stuart Little is of course an exception to this). Like pest mice, pet mice also scurry here and there that's why their cages are supposed to be always equipped with wheels which they can use to run endlessly. These wheels are also used in cages where hamsters and guinea pigs are kept. Moreover, like pests, pet mice also do not consume their food right away. They like to nibble every now and then too, that's why pet mice cages are supposed to have a food container inside it where pet food is supposed to be constantly present.

In the event that pet mice are taken out of their cages, they will always have the tendency to nibble on almost anything, just like a plain pest mouse. They would still bite electrical wires, nibble socks and documents. In short, pet mice and pest mice are similar; the only clear difference between them is how they are viewed by the people who live with them under the same roof.

Having said so, this means that even the litters of pest mice found in your house can also be taken cared of like pets, although this idea is not really very palatable to most people. The simple rationale is: if the supposed "pet mouse lover" is perfectly fine to treat a mouse nicely, then definitely, he or she should be able to do the same to a mouse that happens to be not tagged with a price by some random pet shop. Nonetheless, it has been found out that most of these pet owners would not equate themselves to people who tolerate the presence of pest mice in their house. Simply put that although most of these pet owners are well aware about the lack of difference between a pet mouse and a pest mouse, they still do not look at pest mouse as an equal to a pet mouse.

Why Mice Become Pests?

If the place in question is a farm or a barn, there is no question why mice become pests. For obvious reasons, field mice feed on farm produce and of course, no farmer can perfectly enclose a farm so as not to permit the entry of at least a couple of mice. By definition, the term pest is referred to insects or animals that jeopardise the overall economic gain of certain individuals or groups. For example, ants are considered pests if have become too many that a sugar factory has to dispose of some products because the damage they have done. Termites are also considered as pests when they are already compromising the structure of a certain building or establishment. In the case of field mice, they have been classified as the "super pests" because of their tendency to come in a huge group. As an example, there was a very popular photo taken in Argentina in 1970s of a "mouse hunt" conducted for three days where farmers are able to kill 70,000 adult mice!

Bringing the subject into the very boundaries of our home, mice are considered pests mostly because of their capability to transmit diseases and their endless need to nibble around. Many homeowners have awoken into the nightmare of seeing their cereal boxes and other food stuff nibbled and contaminated by mice. Some homeowners have also faced terrible accidents like electrical malfunctions due to electrical wires cut and nibbled by mice. Moreover, the long list of diseases that mice carry in their bodies have been the main reason why many people panic at the very thought that mice are already infesting in their homes.

The End of Pestering

However, if homeowners only realize that pest mice are so much like pet mice, they would realize that these mice will not be able to do them any harm if in the first place they will not allow them to enter their houses, in the same way that pet owner are so careful about keeping their pet mice inside their cages. Pet mice will become "pest mice" the moment they get out of their cages, in the same way; house mice only become pests in your house if you allow them to get inside.

There are so many ways to mouse proof a house. In fact, there are so many books and blogs too that are written to help homeowners do this on their own. In the end, no matter how you view mice, whether as pets or pests, some things remain the same: (1) mice are very inquisitive in nature, this often always make them exposed to different disease-causing viruses and germs and (2) mice will always like to nibble, their front teeth are designed for that purpose and (3) if you let a mouse free to roam around your house, whether they are pets or pests, you will definitely put yourself into the same trouble.

All the best,
Sergiu Zburatoru
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