Discover 8 Animals That Love Hunting and Eating Mice

Cat hunting to mouse at home, Burmese cat face before attack close-up
© scaliger/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Erica Scassellati

Updated: January 18, 2024

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Mice are some of the smallest mammals around, making them easy prey for a number of predators. Many animals love hunting and eating mice, and these little creatures make up an important part of their diet. Additionally, the animals on this list serve an important purpose by helping control mice populations. Let’s dive in!

1. Owl

Ural owl with a hunted mouse in beak sitting on a tree stump. Oral owls are adept hunters.

Owls are nocturnal and can eat up to 12 mice on an average night.

©iStock.com/sduben

Several types of large birds love to hunt and eat mice. Owls are perhaps the birds of prey most famous for their mice-killing abilities. Owls can eat up to 12 mice a night. In one season, a group of owls can eliminate several hundred mice.

Owls are nocturnal carnivores that feast on invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, other birds, and small mammals. Attracting these raptors to your yard or farm is a great natural pest control method, as they prey on many pesky species.

Owls typically begin their hunting at dusk because they are adapted to hunt mice and small mammals that are active at night, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. An owl’s huge eyes allow them to let in a lot of light.

Although owl eyes are fixed in their socket, they can swivel their heads about 270 degrees. Owls also have incredible hearing and some species, such as barn owls, can locate prey in total darkness.

An owl locates its prey while flying silently or while perched nearby. They then fly quickly, talons first, to grab and kill their prey. Owls often eat small animals, such as mice, by swallowing them whole. They later cough up indigestible items such as bones and fur into small pellets.

2. Hawk

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) sitting on a stick

Hawks hunt during the day to catch mice and other prey.

©iStock.com/Donyanedomam

Hawks are another bird of prey that commonly feeds on mice. Unlike owls, hawks are diurnal, meaning they hunt during the day. In fact, one of the reasons owls prefer to hunt at night is so they don’t have to compete with other raptors such as hawks.

Hawks are typically sit-and-wait predators who grab prey with their large talons. Like owls, hawks serve as an important form of pest control, keeping mice and other pest populations at a manageable number.

According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, hawks consume the equivalent of 6-8 mice per day on average. Some outlets recommend avoiding using poison to control mice populations, as it can inadvertently poison and kill hawks and other helpful birds of prey.

3. Eagle

An African fish eagle with a fish in its talons skimming the surface of a lake

Eagles primarily hunt fish, but they also enjoy eating small mammals such as mice.

©Tomas Drahos/Shutterstock.com

Eagles have some of the most incredible hunting abilities of any bird of prey. Their size, strength, and sharp talons give eagles an advantage over most birds, and the ability to take down a variety of types of prey.

Bald eagles eat fish as their primary food but also enjoy small mammals such as squirrels, rabbits, and mice. Eagles also have incredible eyesight and can spot and focus on objects from around two miles away. This feature helps eagles see even small prey like mice from a distance.

4. Snake

A yellow eye lash viper striking a mouse. The snake has large needle-like fangs that fold onto the roof of their mouth when they are not going after prey.

Some venomous snakes such as yellow eyelash vipers feed on mice.

©worldswildlifewonders/Shutterstock.com

All snakes are carnivores and many species feed on small mammals such as mice. Gopher snakes and garter snakes are sometimes known as a gardener’s best friend, thanks to their propensity for eating small rodents and pesky insects. These snakes are also harmless to humans.

Venomous snakes eat mice as well. Northern copperheads in particular feed on numerous mice and small rodents. This species of snake can be found from northern Georgia and Alabama to Massachusetts in the north and Illinois in the west. While northern copperheads aren’t particularly aggressive toward humans, they may bite if startled or threatened.

Many pet snake owners are familiar with the practice of feeding their animals live mice. Depending on the species, most pet snakes eat one mouse every seven to fourteen days. In the wild, many snake species can comfortably go several weeks without eating.

5. Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragon at the Cincinnati Zoo

Komodo dragons are large, carnivorous lizards that attack prey by waiting in ambush.

©Mark Dumont / CC BY 2.0 - Original / License

Monitor lizards are large lizards that grow as long as 10 feet in length and can weigh up to 300 pounds. Most monitor lizards are entirely carnivorous, feeding on insects, fish, amphibians, other reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Komodo dragons are one of the most well-known types of monitor lizards. These creatures are native to a few islands in Indonesia.

Komodo dragons typically hunt by waiting in ambush and attacking prey with their sharp teeth. Most monitor lizards are not picky eaters and will consume anything they can find, including carrion. Komodo dragons are no exception. While they are capable of taking down prey as large as deer, they have no objection to eating small rodents such as mice.

6. Fox

Red fox pouncing on prey in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Red foxes hunt by stalking their prey and pouncing at just the right moment.

©Michelle Holihan/Shutterstock.com

Foxes are opportunistic, omnivorous predators. In simple terms, this means that they will eat just about anything, including mice. Some omnivores will only eat rodents as a last resort. However, foxes often incorporate mice into their diet and sometimes even store them for leftovers.

Foxes are quick and skillful hunters. They stalk live animals by creeping up on their prey slowly and pouncing at just the right moment. Foxes are so skilled at this method of hunting that they can even snatch birds from the ground.

According to the Nature Conservancy, species such as the red fox have a characteristic manner of hunting mice. The fox stands motionless, listening and watching to detect a mouse. They then leap high and bring their forelimbs straight down to pin the mouse to the ground before killing it.

7. Weasel

Weasel or Least weasel (mustela nivalis)

Although they are small, weasels hunt and kill mice, birds, young rabbits, and even ducks.

©Stephan Morris/Shutterstock.com

Weasels are the smallest carnivores in the world. These long slender mammals love to eat voles and mice in particular. Mice are the perfect prey for weasels, who are small enough to follow the rodents into their underground burrows, writes the Woodland Trust.

Weasels are also capable of taking down larger prey. They have been known to hunt and kill birds, young rabbits, and even ducks. Weasels need to consume roughly a third of their body weight each day, thanks to their incredibly high metabolism.

Cat

Cat with dead mouse

Cats may leave gifts of dead mice on their owner’s front porch.

©Astrid Gast/Shutterstock.com

It should come as no surprise that cats are on this list. These furry felines love to hunt and kill mice. You might have seen or heard of cats playing with house mice by bopping them on the head. Your pet cat may even bring you “gifts” of dead mice to your front door.

Additionally, cats do actually eat mice! According to University College London, the act of “playing” with their food helps cats hone their hunting skills. “Playing” is more common in domestic indoor cats who did not learn to hunt from their mothers.

Wild cats would typically learn hunting skills from their mother as early as six weeks old. If your pet cat brings you “presents” in the form of dead mice or other animals, it’s likely a sign that they see you as family and are trying to teach you how to hunt!

Farm cats, or barn cats, are domestic cats that live primarily outdoors on agricultural properties. They often shelter in outbuildings such as barns and eat vermin such as mice which can cause problems for farmers.

Summary of 8 Animals That Love Hunting and Eating Mice

NumberAnimal
1Owl
2Hawk
3Eagle
4Snake
5Monitor lizard
6Fox
7Weasel
8Cat


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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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