Fear of Mice or Rats, Musophobia My Extreme Animal Phobia

posted: 05/15/12
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Fear of Mice or Rats, aka Musophobia
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Plague Pests?

To some, mice are cute. Reactions to the mouse's larger cousin, the rat, are more mixed. That's probably due to its long, wormlike tail, or perhaps it's the fact that they're known to carry diseases (a flea common to rats has often been blamed for the plagues of the Middle Ages). However, there is a flip side — both mice and rats are commonly domesticated and kept as household pets. They're easy to train and very intelligent.

Rodent Reactions

But you may identify more with the old Tom and Jerry cartoon character Mrs. Two Shoes, who would scream and leap up onto a chair every time Jerry (the mouse) appeared. A fear of mice is a stereotypical female trait, but both men and women suffer from musophobia, which also covers the fear of rats.

There's also the myth that elephants have musophobia — which seems to have started with Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder — although with their poor eyesight and large size, they're probably just bothered by anything quick scurrying around that they can't identify.

Is it just a fear of disease that plagues people with this phobia? Not necessarily. Some people are grossed out by how mice and rats feel, while others are afraid of being nibbled on. For musophobes, just the hint that a rat or mouse might be around can be terrifying.

Wisdom From Dr. Zasio: Extreme Cases

People who are afraid of animals can run the gamut from mild to extreme phobias. Dr. Zasio shared this story: "I don't ever remember seeing a centipede before, but the other day I was sitting in my home office and there was a centipede walking across my desk. I jumped back because it threw me, but I didn't run screaming out of the house and call maintenance to come to remove it. I lifted up the paper and I threw it outside. Am I afraid of them? No, but I'm certainly not going to pick it up. It doesn't run my life. I'm not going to move. I know a woman who, if she sees a lizard, she will sell her house and move to another location. She has the financial means to have done that a few times."

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