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IT’S OUR FAULT THAT THE HOUSE MOUSE EXISTS!

By Chris Williams on May 4, 2017.

Do you feel sorry for that scared little mouse in your house? Do you think that it got inside by mistake and now can’t get out? Hah! Mice need us and seek out our company. House mice have evolved alongside man ever since their first known appearance about 15,000 years ago. According to researcher Fiona Marshall, the relationship between man (or woman) and the house mouse is a perfect example of animal-human commensalism. In science terms, that means a relationship in which the mouse gains certain benefits from being around people without directly affecting them. Some of us, though, would argue that we definitely are affected by the presence of mice.

MANKIND CREATED THE PROBLEM

Here’s how it all happened, according to the researchers. Apparently, at the end of the Ice Age, ancient people called the Natufians settled in the eastern Mediterranean region and constructed what would be the world’s first semi-permanent stone dwellings. It wasn’t long before a new rodent species, Mus musculus domesticus, evolved to take advantage of this newly created and protective niche. The house mouse discovered that hanging with the Natufians provided food scraps and protection from predators. Marshall says that this cohabitation is one of the earliest examples of animals evolving to take advantage of an environment created by humans.

How do we know that this is what really happened? Lior Weissbrod is a zooarchaeologist who studies animal bones for clues about the lives of early humans. For this study, he examined 200,000 years worth of mouse fossils from the eastern Mediterranean region. Two species of mice were present, but one (the house mouse) was the most abundant of the two during periods when humans were living in dwellings in the region. When the nomadic humans abandoned their dwellings and moved on, house mouse numbers decreased and the other non-domestic mouse species became dominant.

NOW WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

So we humans created the problem way back when. From the exerminator’s view, it often seems that some of us are still attached to the house mouse and are unconsciously encouraging it to share our homes. All Mus musculus wants from us is a little food and shelter from the cruel world. If we provide it, they will come.

If you’d rather not live like a Natufian, take steps to keep mice out of your house. If mice are already present, give Colonial Pest a call.

[Source: Study: Human homes created the house mouse. Sarah Kaplan. The Washington Post, Mar. 29, 2017]


Photo Credit : public domain photo

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