If you own a pet mouse or several mice, you may have some questions around their diet. What about fruits? More specifically, what about bananas. Is this a safe fruit to offer, will your mouse even care to eat them and are there any benefits in doing so? With these questions in mind I decided to do some research. Here is what I have been able to find.
So can mice eat bananas? Mice can and generally enjoy eating bananas. In fact, bananas are one of a number of safe fruits a mouse can eat and they provide many nutrients and vitamins. Mice are not typically fussy eaters and often eat anything they can get there hands on. However mice should only be fed bananas in moderation to prevent preferences from developing and it should never become their primary food source.
When it comes to owning a pet mouse, it’s not so much what will they eat but more so what should you offer.
Even though this fruit is a good treat, you have to be careful with how much you feed your mouse/mice.
Any sudden change to a diet can cause issues, so whenever you are looking to introduce a new food you should do so slowly and carefully, with managed portion and serving sizes.
Let us now take a closer look at the dietary behaviors of mice and if, why and how bananas can be a potential food source.
Do Mice Eat Bananas?
Mice can be described as ‘opportunistic eaters’. Meaning that they’ll eat pretty much anything that they can get their hands on and that is provided to them.
This can range from seeds and plants to grains, insects to protein sources like mealworms.
Mice are omnivores, so do best with a diet that varied to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients that they need.
In the wild, mice spend a lot of their time searching for food. Of course, bananas are not easily accessible to pretty much any mouse in the wild, but this does not mean that they wouldn’t eat it if given the chance.
In fact, pretty much all mice will eat bananas when presented. While mice do have their own unique preferences and tastes, generally speaking mice enjoy this fruit.
When feeding bananas you should look to offer a small amount a time. Make it easy for your mouse to consume it by cutting it into small and manageable chunks.
Some owners even offer dried banana, and the added crunch is mostly enjoyed by mice.
Along with bananas, you can look to other the other following fruits in moderation:
- Apple (seeds removed)
Its ideal to offer your mice a range and variety of these different fruits. This will prevent your mouse from developing preferences, expecting specific food over others and not ignoring their regular diet in the hope that it will be provided.
You must also ensure that any uneaten fruit, such as banana, is removed and discarded from the cage each day. This will prevent the food from rotting and your mouse then eating it spoiled (which is likely carrying bacteria and can lead to digestive distress).
While most fruits are safe and enjoyed, one particular type and sub-category you must avoid are all citrus fruits.
The acids in these fruits can cause a lot of digestive issues, diarrhea and distress as mice are not able to effectively process them. For this reason never offer your mouse fruits including oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit.
Health Benefits of Bananas
Bananas are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals which support our health as humans, but what about for mice?
First and foremost, you should consider what mice actually need in their diets. We know they like to eat most things, and that they are omnivores (eats both plants and animal matter) by nature. But what are their actual nutritional needs and requirements.
Research has suggested that mice should consume a diet that consists of at least:
- 2 grams of Potassium
- 3 grams of Phosphorus
- 5 grams of Calcium
- 0.5 grams of Sodium
- 35 milligrams of Iron
- 10 milligrams Manganese
Equally, the fat content of the diet should never exceed 5%.
When we look at the nutritional profile of bananas, we can soon see that they provide a lot of these nutrients and therefore can be an extremely healthy addition.
The average banana weighs around 120 grams (4 ounces).
Yet, a tenth of a banana (10 grams) provides:
- 358 milligrams of Potassium
- 22 milligrams of Phosphorous
- 5 milligrams of Calcium
- 1 milligram of Sodium
- 0.3 milligrams of Iron
- 0.3 milligrams of Manganese.
So as you can see, a very small portion of banana can go a long way to helping your mouse meet their needs and requirements.
Around a fifth of a banana is a good serving size, provided in small chunks across the course of the day. Its simple and easy to offer.
Bananas are also a low-calorie treat. A typical adult mouse requires around 100 calories a day (this amount varies per age, activity of the mouse e.g. young mice may require more).
Therefore, offering a small amount of banana ensures that your mouse does not consume too many calories which can lead to weight gain and subsequent health issues.
Bananas are also low in fat content, cholesterol and sodium. All things you want to avoid giving in excess to your mouse.
Lastly, bananas are also a source of fiber. Mice need a minimum level of fiber (18%) for a healthy digestive system, so banana can also support this need and requirement.
What To Watch Out For
There are two main reasons why you should feed bananas to mice in moderation; sugar and fiber.
Bananas are naturally high in sugar (fructose). While some carbohydrate is necessary for energy, consuming it in excess is not good for your mouse and can lead to potential weight and organ issues.
For example, Herzberg and Rogerson noted in 1982 that diets with high concentrations of fructose and sucrose increased liver fatty acid synthesis.
Due to the amount of sugar that are naturally present in them, they should not make up a large portion of your mouses diet. They should be a treat, not a meal.
Another potential risk with feeding your mouse too much banana, especially in one sitting, is due to the fiber content of banana. Like mentioned earlier, fiber is good for mice and they do need some, but if they get too much it can become an issue. Too much can cause constipation and other bowel issues.
Its also recommended that you refrain from offering the peel. The peel is essentially just fiber and is difficult for mice to break down and digest – it can lead to blockage issues. So, if you are going to feed your mice banana, peel it first.
Lastly, as mentioned previously, mice can develop preferences to certain foods if they are fed to often. Be sure to rotate the fruits and vegetables you offer to prevent them from displacing their regular diet with other foods.
Ways To Feed Bananas To Your Pet Mouse
If you want to provide some banana to your mouse, there are several different ways to offer it. Its actually quite a versatile food that you can do quite a few different things with.
When feeding your mouse bananas, its important first begin by measuring out a suitable amount and cutting it off first.
Start with a small amount 5 grams the first time you offer it and increase this to 10-15 grams over multiple sittings if your mouse does not suffer any adverse side effects or reactions to it (and they actually go ahead and eat it!)
The most simple way to feed your mouse banana is to simply peel it, cutoff about a tenth and then offer it to your mouse. You may even want to break this piece down further.
Thankfully, bananas are soft so your mouse will not have a problem chewing or breaking it down.
Riper bananas are actually preferable here.
Mashed Up With Their Regular Food
You can mix some banana with the rest of your mouses food. This is a great and practical way to add nutrients with their diet without them developing preferences.
Mix it With Other Fruits and Vegetables
Equally, you can look to mix it in with some other fruits. Just be careful of serving sizes here.
You can look to mix it in with some of the safe fruits and vegetables including: apples, pears, bananas, melons, peaches, plums, oranges, berries, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, parsley, corn, beans, peas, and tomatoes.
Pet mice can eat bananas; in fact, there are some distinct benefits in doing so.
Just like most foods, mice will eat bananas if given the opportunity and the chance. In fact, you’ll likely need to be careful with serving sizes as they will not instinctively eat them in healthy amounts. This is especially true if other foods are not available.
Remember, like when introducing any new foods – start slow with a small amount at a time. Observe your mouse for any behavioral changes, and signs of disinterest or discomfort. These can give you pointers as to whether or not to continue offering it in the future.
Ultimately, so long as you are providing a wholesome and varied diet of pellets, safe fruits and vegetables in moderation, then your mouse should live a long and healthy life. They’ll be able to consume bananas as a treat from time to time.