Fear of Mice

The fear of mice (musophobia) affects 20 percent of adults according to a Gallup™ poll and has the widest spread of all fears between the sexes.  An incredible 5.5 times more women than men are afraid of mice.  This is consistent with the fact that mice are far more scared of men than women.  Men are more likely to hurt them.

Compared to all other fears, this one is difficult to explain or classify.  

A. Primordial Fear of Mice.

The fear of mice may have roots in the primordial sections of the brain.  Most of these primitive fears arise from life-or-death situations, such as an animal will kill you, jumping off a cliff will kill you, trying to cross a river when you can’t swim will kill you; a stranger entering your home will kill you, etc.  That does not appear to be a reason for fear of mice.

The possible perception of starvation may be a connection, as discussed in the Read More Link below.

Perception of Starvation. The mice population is one of the most significant threats to human food supplies. Taking away the food causes starvation, a life, and death scenario.  Every mouse will produce 3 to 14 babies with each birth cycle, and each mouse can reproduce 5 to 10 times yearly.  This means that one mouse can theoretically produce up to 289 billion, yes billion, duplicates each year.  This could wipe out the food supply very quickly.  In this regard, reducing the mouse population would be essential and support a strong dislike of the furry animal.  Since the females in ancient times were in charge of the food storage, this would be consistent with women being 5.5 times more fearful than men.

But hate and fear are different emotions.   Being afraid of the mouse and running away does the opposite in protecting the food supply.  Emotions are complicated matters.  For example, some people say that one cannot hate until one first experienced love.

B. Learned Fear of Mice

a. Traumatic Event. Most websites suggest that the fear of mice arises from a traumatic experience.  This seems inconsistent since a tiny mouse cannot inflict significant physical injury to a human.  Mouse’s physical appearance is not scary as a spider.  The mouse’s features are cute — large eyes, ears, button nose, small hands, and soft hair. 

But there are indirect connections to physical Injury, as discussed in the Read More link below.

b. Perception of Catching a Disease. The general perception is that the mouse is a carrier of many diseases.  This may be the result of social pressures.  

“Real” and “perceived” are the same electrical signals in the brain.  Therefore, whatever a person believes to be true is true regardless of the facts.

The CDC reflects this social pressure.  It states that mice (and rats) spread over 35 diseases by direct contact.  This is disclosed on the front page.  But the pages that list the disorders show that the conditions are extremely rare and primarily encountered in remote jungle environments. 

One way to reduce your fear of mice is to think of some benefits from mice.  Here are four things that mice do for us:

  1. Mice are responsible for advancing almost all medical science, including bacteriology, virology, genetics, molecular biology, immunology, hematology, genetics, oncology, etc.  Our life expectancy has been extended because of the sacrifices of these tiny animals.
  2. Mice play a significant role in the terrestrial ecosystem creating one of the primary food balances between plants and animals.
  3. Mice distribute plant seeds to create biodiversity.
  4. Mice aerate hard soil, providing improved moisture distribution.

3. Parent Connection to Fear of Mice. 

a. Over-Protective Parents.  Was either of your parents afraid of mice? Did they jump up on a chair when a mouse appeared?  Perhaps they screamed when the little creature ran across the room?   Did you have an over-protective parent that wouldn’t let you return to a room where a mouse was observed? 

Over-protection fears usually develop between the ages of 5 and 11.  This is the period where the parents have the most significant influence.

Click on the Read More Link for other Connections from Parents.

b. Chemical/Hormone Connection to Parents.  Most people do not realize there may be a chemical/hormone/biology connection.  In a study of mice, a chemist introduced the odor of acetophenone (orange blossom) to a parent mouse and trained them to fear that odor.  The first-generation offspring had a startled reaction to the smell.  The second generation had the same startled reaction.  They did the same test except for using male mice as the first parent.  The subsequent generations had the same startled reaction.  There were no DNA changes between the parents and the offspring.

In New York, a dozen women who were pregnant on 9/11 and developed PTSD.  A study showed these women exhibited a lower cortisol hormone level than those not exposed to the 9/11 attack.  The babies of the PTSD group also had a lower cortisol level.  Some people opine that perhaps the odor molecules were carried from parent to baby in the womb.  That theory is unlikely since a person’s blood changes every 120 days.  All organ cells are replaced over various times except the visual cortex, which does not change.  

These observations are intriguing.  It means that every piece of food eaten, every visual observation, every smell, every taste, everything you hear, and every emotional experience has the potential to be passed to the next generation.  This supports the view that feelings may be passed between generations in addition to DNA. 

Folklore from Older Generations. There are many folklore reasons given why people are afraid of mice.

  • Mice will crawl in bed with you.   There is no evidence that mice crawl in bed with humans.  It is counter-intuitive to think that a mouse will crawl in bed with a giant moving animal. 
  • Mice will run up a woman’s dress. Another example of a lack of evidence.  This is in the manipulation category of boys scaring girls.
  • Elephants are afraid of mice.    The reasoning is that if a two-ton Elephant is scared of mice, then I should be too.  The problem is –it’s not true.  Elephants have poor eyesight but a great smell.   They smell things long before they see them.  Smelling something unusual will get their attention, and if they cannot see the threat, it compounds the problem.  Bringing a mouse close to the eye of the elephant produces no effect. 
  • Mice are not afraid of dogs. Again, not valid.  Mice are afraid of all household pets.  The fact that mice eat dog food means only that those mice will eat almost anything.  We all put cheese in mouse traps.  Strangely, cheese is one of their least liked foods.  The mouse’s favorite food is –chocolate, followed by peanut butter.

C. Fear of Mice Caused by Manipulation.

There are enormous manipulation efforts conducted by the movie industry, the news media industry, the agriculture industry, and the exterminator business.   It suggests that a mouse problem has political and economic ramifications to justify pushing a particular agenda.   There is an entire section directed to Manipulation.

D. Personality Trait Connection.

The personality trait most applicable would be the B and D Types.    People afraid of mice include Tinie Tempah, Walt Disney, Will Smith, etc.