There may be a longstanding relationship between humans and house mice that dates back to our ancestors who walked the Earth around 15,000 years ago. Such an idea lays to rest the common theory that house mice came about when humans learned how to grow vegetation, and suggests their booming populations occurs many years prior to it.
While wild mice weren’t as prevalent as common house mice are today, it may have been the act of demobilization on our ancestors’ part that gave rise to the house mice populations we have today in the first place.
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay
The story of how house mice were able to thrive appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
As we started to settle and build structures to live in permanently, we also needed a way to store all the food that hunter-gatherers would collect. As a result, wild mice started to break into our homes and mooch off of us. Like parasites, they would find shelter in our ancestors’ homes and snack on their stored food.
Safely hidden in our ancestors’ homes, these wild mice became domesticated house mice. Our ancestors may have been blissfully unaware that mice were mooching off of their homes and the mice were safe from predation and had a seemingly unlimited food source to munch on when people weren’t looking.
Back in the day, our ancestors didn’t live in luxurious homes with asphalt streets interconnecting them to one another; instead, they lived in hut-like homes that were made out of hardened mud or rocks. Because they weren’t weather-tight like houses are today, mice found it very easy to slip in through the cracks to get what they were looking for.
It is worth noting that the 15,000-year figure is the earliest one every estimated for the conception of the house mouse, so this study offers some significant critical thought into just how the creature came to be.
Today, house mice have a harder time thriving because of the domestication of pets like cats and dogs, which tend to chase the little critters. On the other hand, even today, house mice are a problem in modern homes that aren’t well cared for.
It would seem that humans and house mice have bonds through time, and it just might have been our ancestors that allowed them to thrive by starting the trend of living in permanent settlements rather than hoofing it.
In other words, we and our habits are to blame for the existence of these common household pests.
Source: National Geographic