Do Mice Eat Human Semen?
January 13, 2017 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Thanks to some crummy apartments I've lived in over the past few years, I've had some experiences that have led me to believe mice are attracted to/trying to eat my semen, thankfully when I am far away from it and them. Is this remotely plausible or am I galloping headlong into some weird combination of projection, pattern-matching, and narcissism?

I was awakened a few nights ago by a mouse rooting around the trashcan in my bedroom. I'm dealing with the infestation separately, but it struck me as a little curious that a mouse would be in there at all. I'm virtually certain there wasn't anything food or food-like in there (other than maybe an old teabag). It was mostly old mail, a couple of paper towels, and tissues I had expelled various bodily fluids into. Not 15 feet away there's a whole box of carbohydrates sitting right on the floor, and when I checked, it had been briefly nibbled on, but for some reason this mouse left that bounty to root around in my soiled tissues.

This isn't the first time this has happened, although I admit that I haven't always been this diligent about keeping food out of my bedroom trash when I've lived with mice. I've never carefully inspected what's been chewed on after discovering a mouse in there, so I guess I don't know they're going straight for the tissues I've used to clean myself up with, but they have historically loved getting into my trash as much if not more than they've loved going after my nearby food. There was also an incident from a long time ago when I was a younger and much grosser person where I ejaculated into a sock, dropped it on the floor, and forgot about it for weeks, but when I finally cleaned that up, the sock had clearly been chewed on, while another clean sock nearby hadn't.

I suppose it's also possible that the same items that make for good semen collectors are also the sort of things that mice might want to chew unrelated to what substances have been sprayed onto them. I'm mostly just wondering if there's any chance this is an actual thing instead of something I 100% made up. I guess it seems plausible to me right now that the mice are seeking out semen since there is some protein content there, and it does have a relatively distinctive smell that I can imagine attracting a mouse, but I (clearly) know nothing of rodent biology, and this is something that I am, for reasons that are hopefully obvious, unwilling to seriously delve into Google results for.
posted by anonymous to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

I had a mouse chew the nosepads off my glasses (when they were on the shelf by my bed!) in a rustic cabin, and I assumed that it was for the salt. Considering what dogs think of, say, human underwear (known to chew it), it seems pretty plausible to me that mice would also got after trash that contained bodily fluids that might be salty/stinky.
posted by ldthomps at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2017

Mice commonly make their nests out of soft things, and that has, in my experience, often meant they take toilet paper and kleenexes. My guess is they were going after the tissues to make their nests.
posted by brainmouse at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2017 [11 favorites]

This is so horribly gross that I'm slightly questioning whether to even put it out there on the internet, but...

When I had a really bad mouse infestation about a year ago, I (female) was putting away the laundry I'd just washed and noticed something odd - the inner linings on the crotches of most of my underwear had a ton of holes in them. At first I thought it was normal wear and tear, but it really didn't look like it. With a crowing sense of creeping dread I started googling around, and... yep. This was a Thing that has happened to a lot of other people. Mice ate the crotches out of all my dirty underwear. Only the crotches. Because of the... crotch... stuff.

Awful as it is to contemplate, various human effluvia has a lot of protein and various other nutrients in it.

Get a trash can with a lid.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2017 [45 favorites]

Yeah, mice like tissues and fabrics for nest building, but I think they also may be attracted to scents from various bodily fluids, including semen, but also e.g. snot. In addition to protein, that stuff is packed with SALT, which I think pretty much all mammals naturally crave.

Anecdotally I've known of dogs and cats also getting in to bedroom trash, which indeed normally does contain some human juices and not much in the way of human food.

Anyway, I'd pick snot as the culprit and mouse attractant, just as much as, if not moreso than semen.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

ants and dogs eat it, so with some relatively simple animal math we can deduce that mice do too
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:35 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Many dogs will happily chew on human underpants, I can't imagine why mice would be any different.

We have a small SimpleHuman garbage can in the bedroom that keeps our dog out, so that would probably work with the mice.
posted by radioamy at 12:50 PM on January 13, 2017

Mice got into our garage. There was nothing resembling food there for them. They did, however, eat a bunch of bone-meal plant food and a substantial portion of a bar of scented soap. So TL;dr: mice will eat things that are not food.

(Also, if this question doesn't end up on Best of MetaFilter, our unseen overlords are just wasting everyone's time.)
posted by sourcequench at 1:30 PM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Some dogs definitely go, er, nuts when semen infused tissues are around.

It's a bit inconvenient, but throw use tissues in the toilet. Flush immediately or flush later, no biggie. Helps with the "musty man smell," too, especially during winter when your abode doesn't get as much fresh air.
posted by porpoise at 1:40 PM on January 13, 2017

It's a bit inconvenient, but throw use tissues in the toilet.

Do not do this, unless you are using toilet paper as your tissues. Kleenex-type tissues are not meant to flush, they don't break down nicely, and can cause clogs, either at your end or, more likely, farther down the system when they meet up with other people's junk. Get a trash can that seals or put them in a plastic bag before you toss them, but do not flush them.
posted by brainmouse at 1:47 PM on January 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

We had a mouse at the office that went to town on the used earplugs I had in the cabinet over my desk.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

So.... oh, christ, someone linked me this with the tagline "bodily fluids and mouse behavior! This sounds like a job for sciatrix!"'re all welcome. (I work on sexual behavior and study wild rodents, although I don't work with any mouse species likely to be found in your house.)

That said, yes, I would not be at all surprised to find mice that think your jizz tissues are tasty. The nesting material thing is 100% true--in fact, when we raise domestic mice or the species of wild mice I work with*, it's standard practice to toss a couple of cotton squares so mice can shred them for bedding, just like the Kleenex in your bin. And mice in particular like protein, which is high-value, and as has been said upthread salt. Those might or might not be things that are easy for them to find as they hunt through your house.

Aside from the dogs and ants things, there are quite a few cases of rodents eating, uh, less savory human... excretions out in the wild. For example, porcupines are well known to be drawn to outhouses and will often actually eat the wood in their quest for salt. Rats and mice will consume human feces, again for the protein content; incidentally, if any of you have a dog who is particularly drawn to eating cat poop, that's because cats aren't great at getting all the nutrients out of their poop so theirs is also relatively high protein. I'm not actually aware of rodents consuming human menses, but I'd be frankly startled if rats in particular (being more carnivorous than mice) wouldn't opportunistically sample them, given the opportunity; bloody stuff tends to be tasty to most omnivores. And I'm... gonna stop now before I start trying to hunt down case files of rodents finding enough human snot to consume for it to have generated a linkworthy article.

*not likely to be living in your house; your house mice are probably either Peromyscus or Mus
posted by sciatrix at 3:24 PM on January 13, 2017 [36 favorites]

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