Mouse-Infest Destiny: Most of our homes are soaked in mouse urine. It’s at the core of our asthma epidemic—but it helps ro
UNTIL A FEW WEEKS AGO I didn’t have the slightest interest in mouse urine. But after some study I’ve concluded that it is covertly running and ruining the world, strangling small children, and driving the profits of Big Pharma.
I came to know mouse urine, the molecules of which are known as MUPs (Major Urinary Proteins), and specifically as Mus m 1, because the molecules were stubbornly clinging to the studs of a cabin that I recently bought. Though I didn’t yet know the molecular names or weights of my MUPs, I knew they were there. Mice had burrowed through the cabin’s fiberglass insulation, and it looked like a splendid and huge pink ant farm.
Mice sort their food; there were larders of pasta, lentils, acorns, and blue poison crystals in my walls. Looking at the elaborate networks in the walls, it’s easy to imagine that my new-old (built in 1939) cabin’s erstwhile owner was a rustic prisoner who suffered respiratory ailments. The mice operated a space-age metropolitan economy in the walls around him, communicating through sophisticated molecular signaling.
Once the mice and the insulation were gone, a ghastly smell remained. So I set to googling the hows and whys, until the basic crystalline structure of our problem (specifically) and the scourge of mouse urine (generally) became clear: field mice, especially males, secrete proteins in their urine to signal to other mice their sex, degree of male dominance, age, and genetic makeup.