As Experimental Animals
Mice are common experimental animals in laboratory research of biology and psychology fields primarily because they are mammals, and also because they share a high degree of homology with humans. They are the most commonly used mammalian model organism, more common than rats. The mouse genome has been sequenced, and virtually all mouse genes have human homologs. The mouse has approximately 2.7 billion base pairs and 20 pairs of chromosomes. They can also be manipulated in ways that are illegal with humans, although animal rights activists often object. A knockout mouse is a genetically modified mouse that has had one or more of its genes made inoperable through a gene knockout.
Reasons for common selection of mice are that they are small and inexpensive, have a widely varied diet, are easily maintained, and can reproduce quickly. Several generations of mice can be observed in a relatively short time. Mice are generally very docile if raised from birth and given sufficient human contact. However, certain strains have been known to be quite temperamental.
Many people buy mice as companion pets. They can be playful, loving and can grow used to being handled. Like pet rats, pet mice should not be left unsupervised outside as they have many natural predators, including (but not limited to) birds, snakes, lizards, cats, and dogs. Male mice tend to have a stronger odor than the females. However, mice are careful groomers and as pets they never need bathing. Well looked-after mice can make ideal pets. Some common mouse care products are:
Cage – Usually a hamster or gerbil cage, but a variety of special mouse cages are now available. Most should have a secure door.
Food – Special pelleted and seed-based food is available. Mice can generally eat most rodent food (for rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, etc.)
Bedding – Usually made of hardwood pulp, such as aspen, sometimes from shredded, uninked paper or recycled virgin wood pulp. Using corn husk bedding is avoided because it promotes Aspergillus fungus, and can grow mold once it gets wet, which is rough on their feet.
Mice are a staple in the diet of many small carnivores. In various countries mice are used as feed for pets such as snakes, lizards, frogs, tarantulas, and birds of prey, and many pet stores carry mice for this purpose.
Common terms used to refer to different ages/sizes of mice when sold for pet food are "pinkies", "fuzzies", "crawlers", "hoppers", and "adults". Pinkies are newborn mice that have not yet grown fur; fuzzies have some fur but are not very mobile; and hoppers have a full coat of hair and are fully mobile but are smaller than adult mice. Mice without fur are easier for the animal to consume; however, mice with fur may be more convincing as animal feed. These terms are also used to refer to the various growth stages of rats (see Fancy rat).
Humans have eaten mice since prehistoric times. In Victorian Britain, fried mice were still given to children as a folk remedy for bed-wetting; while Jared Diamond reports creamed mice being used in England as a dietary supplement during WW II rationing. Mice are a delicacy throughout eastern Zambia and northern Malawi, where they are a seasonal source of protein. Field rat is a popular food in Vietnam and neighboring countries. In many countries, however, mouse is no longer a food item.
Prescribed cures in Ancient Egypt included mice as medicine. In Ancient Egypt, when infants were ill, mice were eaten as treatment by their mothers. It was believed that mouse eating by the mother would help heal the baby who was ill.